Peaceworks invites and encourages your active participation in our work for peace, sustainability and a just, workable future.
One year after Barack Obama’s election we find ourselves in new terrain, and this speaks to a more nuanced approach to our work. When George Bush was in the White House, almost reflexively, we opposed virtually everything his administration did, and for good reason. As we stated immediately after the 2008 election, we look forward to supporting Barack Obama’s positions whenever we can, but we will oppose his administration’s actions when we must.
This is still our philosophy.
Yes, we have a president who has called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, but this same president has submitted the largest military budget in our history, escalated the war in Afghanistan, increased the number of troops in uniform, and stated that, while he wants to abolish nukes, he thinks it will likely not happen in his lifetime.
Yes, we have a president who speaks eloquently about the need to address climate change. Mr. Obama has also directed more resources into efficiency and renewables than his predecessor. On the other hand, he has also backed flawed climate legislation that provides hundreds of billions in subsidies and giveaways to the polluters, the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industries, big agribusiness and the utilities.
Yes, we have a president who speaks with compassion for the least among us, yet the people appointed to administer economic policy are the same cast of characters who got us into this mess and the policies coming out of Washington often seem more focused on the welfare of the big banks and investment houses than that of the average Jane or Joe and their households.
Some things have changed, for sure, but what hasn’t changed is the need for an active, engaged progressive movement to push for peace, for sustainability and for social justice.
Sadly, however, there are many who were aroused to protest the actions of the Bush administration who are not similarly engaged at the moment. Many are sitting back, seemingly content to know that we have a Democrat in the White House; one whose intentions they trust.
The reality however is that without our active mobilization, the needed changes will not be realized. The stakes are very high. Our very future hangs in the balance, and this has not changed, even though Barack Obama is in the White House.
Likewise, the powerful corporate interests that profit from war, from retrograde energy policies, from healthcare that puts patients last or from bank bailouts all are working overtime to influence the direction of public policy. Their lobbyists and their cash speak loudly.
Needless to say, their interests are not peace, sustainability, social or economic justice.
We must take it upon ourselves, therefore, to redouble our efforts.
We need more community members to participate in visible public actions, like our weekly Rush Hour Peace Demonstrations. We also are certainly in need of folks willing to work behind the scenes, coming to meetings, joining committees, helping with planning events and much more. This applies to every aspect of our work, from peace advocacy to sustainability education to safe energy promotion. It includes everything from Earth Day organizing, to arranging film screenings and speaking engagements, to petitioning, canvassing, helping with fundraising and much more.
We each need to reevaluate our commitments. We each need to decide what we can do to move things forward. We face serious, even existential, threats, like climate change and nuclear war. We face many smaller, yet quite consequential, battles over everything from human rights to specific local environmental threats.
We each would do well to take stock and see if, perhaps, we can up the level of our activism. No one can do everything, but each of us can do something. And most all of us can do a bit more than we’re doing today.