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Robin Williams, Dead, Suicide? Depression? So What?

“Can we turn the loss of this artist we loved so much into something that pushes back against the ravages of despair” Alan Alda

Sometimes, I just can’t understand the rationale that we stand on when a celebrity dies. It’s as if they have some sort of super power, some beyond human experience, existence that makes them more of an IDOL, than a real living breathing human.
The adoration and adulation is so displaced. A great attention given to a person who barely knows who he/she is outside of the admiration thrust upon them by their audience. In real life, beyond the big scream, they cry, they fart, they throw up and catch the flu. But on screen they are more than human, they are more than super human, they are GODS.
Somewhere in the human psyche we need to have these GODS, these DEITIES, who seem to give us this false sense of hope and a false sense of reality. We never see them sweat except as part of the act. We don’t see what it takes to get one scene together to fit the big screen. But alas, we are manipulated and mezmorized by their “bigger than life” persona.
Yet, by the same token we will walk over a homeless person lying in the gutter. Some of us will actually bring harm to them, as if they are not human and deserving of being treated as a living, breathing human manifestation of the Divine. We are also the same ones who will vote for the killing of thousands of children in other people’s homes. How is that possible? How do these two opposing beliefs come from the same species. Even in the animal kingdom you see a compassion that far outweighs what we tend to portray for one another, particularly in the more privileged side of the human family.
Robin Williams, brought us all a taste of a world beyond our own abilities to manifest in the sense that he could be all of us and none of us at the same time. He could be almost any character and make it so real, we really believed it. Yet who was he, and did he hurt every time he heard that another Palestinian home had been bombed and another 50 children killed in an areal assault? Did he pay attention to what was happening in the world outside of his fame? I tend to believe he did, but that could simply be a personal bias.
My point is this… Here we are mourning the likes of a ROBIN WILLIAMS, another human being who had the opportunity to make us laugh so hard, we’d better stop before we damage our hearts, yet, we are divorced from the sadness, the grief, the despair, the depression of others who are not on the Big Screen.
What gives them carte-blanche to our sympathies? What makes their pain bigger than any one else’s and what makes them so important, even more important than the thousands of Yazidi fleeing into war torn Syria. What kind of world is this? Imagine just for a moment what that must feel like, when 20 members of your immediate family is killed in an instance and you are the only one who survives. Would you consider the fact that this lone survivor could give into the deepest darkest despair and kill himself or become a suicide bomber? Would his suicide make headline news??

Why are we so divorced from the chemical, electro-magnetic impact that death and destruction has on all of us, in every single corner of this globe. Is one death and its reason more significant than the death of an old man who gave up after being shut away in an old folks’ home for 20 years where no one came to visit him? How is it, that Robin’s depression is a clarion call for folks to focus on remedies for it, and questions about it and how can we avoid it in others….?? How is that possible when we are constantly bombarded with all types of violence against one another and others we don’t even know? How in the same breath, we weep and cry and wish we knew before it was too late, and then say that Israel’s disproportionate force against Gaza is justifiable? How do we support the arming of rebels around the globe who have no compassion at all for their victims and their families as they slaughter, maimed and behead them. What type of mind do we as a human family have that we can go so deep into the mirror over a superficial SUPER STARwho told us himself that“NO MOVIES ARE REAL!” yet we are lacking in our ability to comprehend, respond or change the conditions of our world where distress, pain and misery lie.
Seriously, is the fact that Robin Williams was depressed more of a headline than the deep despair that Liberian Mother feels whose child succumbed to Ebola? Or the Ferguson’s mother whose son was shot several times and killing all his chances to go to college this coming September? How displaced is our attention, concern and adulations when it comes to a so-called Hollywood Celebrity than for our family and neighbors who live in our midst? How displaced is our concern when we spend ours and dollars on Pop Culture and ignore the pain of those who are on the other side of the globe, who are awakened from their sleep in the middle of the night to the rhythmic sequence of bombs falling on their neighborhood, a neighborhood they could not escape. What about their despair, what about their depression, grief and feelings of loss?
And finally, how can we avoid it? Sometimes, I think the Universe let’s it happen to us so we can see what it feels like and maybe, just maybe we will have more empathy for others. I wonder how effective that method is however. It seems we get more self gratification weighing in on our favorite celeb, sports start or politician than we do on the real issues. We are all one human family sharing one home, Earth, and surely, whatever is happening anywhere in the world is happening everywhere. 
We hear so much about honoring the dead, honoring their families, giving the families of these famous deceased folks their privacy, etc., etc. ad infanitum, yet, who honors those that are killed by our tax dollars and warmongering Politicians? Who stops and places a yellow ribbon on their hearts for them. Who refuses to participate in their annihilation? If it meant that the way we could save Robin from his ill fated demise meant that we stop supporting the industry that killed him, would we do it. Would we release ourselves from the joys of his mania and allow him, the artist to live in peace?  Would we rally around programs that brought peace into his life if it meant he would make no more movies for our gawking eyes and selfish idol worship to enjoy? Would we stop if it meant that we would have to find something else to entertain us or find a way to entertain ourselves without destroying the idol of our worship? Would we? Could we? Are we all crying out loud because we cannot live without Robin Williams, our major distraction from what is really happening in the real world????
Yes, another IDOL  has succumbed to the ravishes of an industry that kills it. And to what does that mean? Save we shall simply find another distraction and move ever more from reality and deeper into the matrix of mind control.

I hope that Robin is doing well, wherever he is. I hope he realizes that our worshipping of him was a sickness as much as his desire to be worshipped and that if he comes back he will love himself, more than any mass of emotionally starved and derranged human beings could ever love him. Rest In Power, Robin Williams, and all those who preceeded you and all those who follow and particularly the forgotten ones whose physical bodies are wasting away under the rubble of human ignorance and cruelty. 

Opinion

Alan Alda: A Niagaraof Wit Falls Silent
Aug. 12, 2014Can we turn the loss of this artist we loved so much into something that pushes back against the ravages of despair?

Within minutes we were telling one another he was gone. His genius, that had burned so hot, was cold, and the whole country felt the chill at once.
For years, we had watched with awe as a Niagara of wit poured from his unconscious. Where did that manic waterfall of funny have its source?
And where did his fearlessness come from? The night that he and Jane Fonda and I hosted the Academy Awards show together, he kept coming up with outrageous jokes in the wings. But before he went out on stage, he seemed to be using me as his taste monitor. He would think of a line and say, “Is that too tasteless?” Invariably, I’d say, “Yes, it’s too tasteless,” and invariably he’d go on stage, say the line and kill with it.
Unfortunately, sometimes the mind that runs so fast it can’t keep up with itself also has its down time. I didn’t know he suffered from depression, although it doesn’t surprise me. But it makes me want to dosomething.
I hope it makes us all want to do something.
While the whole country, and much of the world, feels this moment of sadness at his death, can we turn the loss of this artist we loved so much into something that pushes back against the ravages of despair?
Can we educate one another to recognize the early signs of depression? Can we make it clear to one another how dangerous it is? We all know now that drunk driving kills. But, when I looked up the numbers, I was astonished. Each year there are more than twice as many suicides attributed to depression as deaths on the road due to alcohol.
Maybe our grief can be transformed into an awakening. The man who enriched our lives could be the focus of saving countless other lives. Robin Williams could be with us a little longer.

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STOP THE KILLING TRAIN!

STOP THE KILLING TRAIN

author unknown

Published 8 August 2014

The killing train transcends each separate war, inequity, and injustice, and ultimately, and this is, of course, the point – so must our opposition. The killing train is fueled by poverty, disease, starvation, indignity, death squads, racism, sexism, class division, bombs, and more bombs.

Many years back, moved by the first Gulf War, I wrote a piece with the above title, Stop the Killing Train. I am revisiting the same subject because, regrettably, the topic remains at the forefront even if the precipitating violence is different.

For the purpose of the exercise, please use your imagination.

Suppose a hypothetical god got tired of what we humans do to one another and decided that from January 1, 1991 onward all corpses unnaturally created anywhere in or by the hand of the “free world” would cease to decompose. Anyone dying for want of food or medicine, anyone hung or garroted to death, shot or beaten to death, raped or bombed to death, anyone dying unjustly and inhumanely for want of clean air or water or other necessities of life, would, as a corpse, persist without decomposing. The permanent corpse would then automatically enter a glass-walled cattle car attached to an ethereal train traveling monotonously across the U.S., state by state, never stopping. The hypothetical God would tirelessly display our achievements for us all to see.

One by one the corpses would divinely load onto the cattle cars. After every thousand corpses piled in a car, a new car would hitch up and begin filling in turn. Mile after mile the killing train would roll along, each corpse visible through the train’s transparent walls. We can suppose it fills at the rate of 200 new corpses a minute, or one new car every five minutes, day and night, without pause.

By the end of 1991, on its first birthday, the killing train would easily measure over 2,500 miles long. Traveling at 20 miles an hour it would take about five days to pass any intersection across the U.S. Imagine you are sitting at a railroad crossing. You watch this horror go past, 24 hours a day, for five full days. Every car contains 1,000 corpses, all clearly visible. This hypothetical God knows how to communicate so we can’t ignore reality.

By the year 2000, assuming no dramatic change in institutions and behavior, the train would stretch from coast to coast about seven times. It would take about six weeks from the time its engine passed the Statue of Liberty to when its caboose would go by. Would the God still wonder when pitiful, aspiring humanity would get the message?

By 2014 – you can safely just double the ugly statistics. Deaths accelerate, unless, of course, we had gotten the message. So, coast to coast it would stretch, about 14 times. Every corpse an indictment.

Think how a young child sometimes points to a picture in a book or magazine and asks for an explanation, “Tell me about a tree?” A car? A boat? Or a train? A big train? The killing train? Go ahead, try to answer that one. Perhaps that explains why this image isn’t, in fact, a common one on our TVs and in our never-ending streams of information.

Bad enough, way worse than bad enough, it could even get worse. Consider that climate change will before long start to wrack up even larger kill lists. But, of course, those dead would pile into the killing train too, since with only modest exceptions they too are preventable.

The killing train, in any event, no matter how each moribund commuter who need not have been on board got his or her ticket, is horrendous.

Imagine the lost opportunity and lost love. Imagine as well the network of negative influences that radiate from the unnecessary deaths displayed by the killing train stretching from coast to coast and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Consider the horrendous impact, not only on those on board, but on every person that any of those corpses ever loved or would have loved, fed or would have fed, taught or would have taught.

Who rides the killing train? 
Certainly citizens of the “Third World,” selling their organs for food, selling their babies to save their families, suffering disappearances and starvation. They live in Brazil, the Philippines, El Salvador, but also New York. They enter the killing train, every day. It isn’t a peace train. It isn’t a justice train. It isn’t a love train. It is a killing train. Its current most bloody loading platform: Gaza. But don’t forget those who starve and die of preventable diseases in the Third World and in the first world too. All are onboard.

Is the gigantic sprawling disgusting image exaggerated? 10 million kids die yearly for lack of basic medical aid that the U.S. could provide at almost no cost in countries whose economies Exxon and the Bank of America have looted. Preventable death fills the killing train. To the sane, it is mass murder. The grotesque image I offer is actually understated.

Bloated diseased bodies are victims of murder just as surely as bullet-riddled bodies tossed into rivers by death squads, or shrapnel shredded bodies prone in the piles of blasted hospitals and homes. Denying medicine by out of reach pricing or preventable shortages is no less criminal than denying medicine by blowing up pharmacies and demolishing hospitals is no less criminal than supplying torture racks, stealing resources, and paving roads with bomblets. Bombing electric power stations and pulverizing hospitals enlarges the train. Deaths by starvation and disease are no less unnatural than those by bomblet and bullet, and enlarge the train.   

Evolution has given humans the capacity to perceive, think, feel, and imagine. During war time—as now exists in so many places —if we get aroused to action we begin to see the whole train as it persists day in and day out. When this happens, what do we do about it? Do we become depressed? Cynical? Anguished? Cry? Daydream of Armageddon? Daydream of justice? Or do we hand out a leaflet?

Once we begin to see the killing train, how do we face the killing train? Part of me says these crimes are so grotesque, so inhumane, that the perpetrators deserve to die, now. A little tiny killing train for the killers and no more big killing train for everyone else. An eye for a million eyes. What other step makes more sense? Was this the hypothetical God’s plan?

But, of course, that’s not the way the world works. Yes, people give the orders. People wield the axes, withhold the food, pay the pitiful salaries, blow up the power stations, spew the garbage, lie, steal, cheat, obey – and produce corpses. But institutions create the pressures that mold the people.

When an institutional cancer spreads through the human patient, what kind of surgeon can cut it away? Is the imprint of accumulated repression so deep it can never be excised.

At first, becoming attuned to our country’s responsibility for the corpses stacked behind transparent cattle-car walls makes handing out leaflets, or writing essays, or arguing for peace with a co-worker, or urging a relative to think twice about paying taxes, or going to a demonstration, or sitting in, or doing civil disobedience, or even taking over a workplace, seem insignificant. But the fact is, these are the acts that the hypothetical God, tired of our behavior, would be calling for if she were to actually parade the “free world’s” corpses down our main streets in killing trains. These are the acts that can accumulate into a firestorm of informed protest that raises the cost of profiteering and domination, of war making and pollution so high that the institutions breeding such behavior start to buckle.   

The fact is, when fighting a behemoth, “You lose, you lose, you lose, and then you win.” Every loss, understood properly to learn its lessons, is part of the process that leads to transforming institutions so that there can be no people as vile as Hussein or Bush, as Netanyahu or Obama. No more “Good Germans” or “Good Americans.” No more incinerated Jews or decapitated, starved, poisoned, starved, bulleted Palestinians.   

War is invariably unjustly motivated. War is always horrendously harmful. War is an orchestrated atrocity that mandates our militant, unswerving opposition. But so too does exploitation, racism, sexism, the systematic deprivation of any one community at the hands of any other.

But even after the Gaza crimes of the little thug Israel and of its guardian angel the big thug, America, ends, the on-going U.S. war against “free world” people who it has consigned to ride the killing train will, if it continues, remain a enormous crime against humanity. The killing train transcends each separate war, inequity, and injustice, and ultimately, and this is, of course, the point – so must our opposition. The killing train is fueled by poverty, disease, starvation, indignity, death squads, racism, sexism, class division, bombs, and more bombs. The power plant of the death, destruction, and generalized deprivation is our basic institutions.

The institutions must become our target.

War in Our Collective Imagination

By David Swanson
Remarks at Veterans For Peace Convention, Asheville, NC, July 27, 2014.

I started seeing graphics pop up on social media sites this past week that said about Gaza: “It’s not war. It’s murder.”  So I started asking people what exactly they think war is if it’s distinct from murder.  Well, war, some of them told me, takes place between armies.  So I asked for anyone to name a war during the past century (that is, after World War I) where all or even most or even a majority of the dying was done by members of armies.  There may have been such a war.  There are enough scholars here today that somebody probably knows of one.  But if so, it isn’t the norm, and these people I was chatting with through social media couldn’t think of any such war and yet insisted that that’s just what war is.  So, is war then over and nobody told us?

For whatever reasons, I then very soon began seeing a graphic sent around that said about Gaza: “It’s not war. It’s genocide.”  And the typical explanation I got when I questioned this one was that the wagers of war and the wagers of genocide have different attitudes.  Are we sure about that? I’ve spoken to advocates for recent U.S. wars who wanted all or part of a population wiped out.  Plenty of supporters of the latest attacks on Gaza see them as counter-terrorism.  In wars between advanced militaries and poor peoples most of the death and injury is on one side and most of it — by anyone’s definition — civilian.  This is as true in Afghanistan, where war rolls on largely unchallenged, as in Gaza, about which we are newly outraged.
Well, what’s wrong with outrage? Who cares what people call it? Why not criticize the war advocates rather than nitpicking the war opponents’ choice of words?  When people are outraged they will reach for whatever word their culture tells them is most powerful, be it murder or genocide or whatever.  Why not encourage that and worry a little more about the lunatics who are calling it defense or policing or terrorist removal?  (Eight-year-old terrorists!)

Yes, of course.  I’ve been going after CNN news readers for claiming Palestinians want to die and NBC for yanking its best reporter and ABC for claiming scenes of destruction in Gaza that just don’t exist in Israel are in fact in Israel — and the U.S. government for providing the weapons and the criminal immunity.  I’ve been promoting rallies and events aimed at swaying public opinion against what Israel has been doing, and against the sadistic bloodthirsty culture of those standing on hills cheering for the death and destruction below, quite regardless of what they call it.  But, as you’re probably aware, only the very most open-minded war advocates attend conventions of Veterans For Peace.  So, I’m speaking here backstage, as it were, at the peace movement.  Among those of us who want to stop the killing, are there better and worse ways to talk about it?  And is anything revealed by the ways in which we tend to talk about it when we aren’t hyper-focused on our language?

I think so.  I think it’s telling that the worst word anyone can think of isn’t war.  I think it’s even more telling that we condemn things by contrasting them with war, framing war as relatively acceptable.  I think this fact ought to be unsettling because a very good case can be made that war, in fact, is the worst thing we do, and that the distinctions between war and such evils as murder or genocide can require squinting very hard to discern.

We’ve all heard that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  There is a parallel belief that wars don’t kill people, people who misuse wars, who fight bad wars, who fight wars improperly, kill people.  This is a big contrast with many other evil institutions.  We don’t oppose child abuse selectively, holding out the possibility of just and good incidents of child abuse while opposing the bad or dumb or non-strategic or excessive cases of child abuse. We don’t have Geneva Conventions for proper conduct while abusing children.  We don’t have human rights groups writing reports on atrocities and possible law violations committed in the course of abusing children.  We don’t distinguish UN-sanctioned child abuse.  The same goes for numerous behaviors generally understood as always evil: slavery or rape or blood feuds or duelling or dog fighting or sexual harassment or bullying or human experimentation or — I don’t know — producing piles of I’m-Ready-for-Hillary posters.  We don’t imagine there are good, just, and defensible cases of such actions.

And this is the core problem: not support for bombing Gaza or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq or anywhere else that actually gets bombed, but support for an imaginary war in the near future between two armies with different colored jerseys and sponsors, competing on an isolated battlefield apart from any villages or towns, and suffering bravely and heroically for their non-murderous non-genocidal cause while complying with the whistles blown by the referees in the human rights organizations whenever any of the proper killing drifts into lawless imprisonment or torture or the use of improper weaponry.  Support for specific possible wars in the United States right now is generally under 10 percent.  More people believe in ghosts, angels, and the integrity of our electoral system than want a new U.S. war in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, or Iraq. The Washington Post found a little over 10 percent want a war in Ukraine but that the people who held that view were the people who placed Ukraine on the world map the furthest from its actual location, including people who placed it in the United States.  These are the idiots who favor specific wars.  Even Congress, speaking of idiots, on Friday told Obama no new war on Iraq.

The problem is the people, ranging across the population from morons right up to geniuses, who favor imaginary wars.  Millions of people will tell you we need to be prepared for more wars in case there’s another Adolf Hitler, failing to understand that the wars and militarism and weapons sales and weapons gifts — the whole U.S. role as the arsenal of democracies and dictatorships alike — increase rather than decrease dangers, that other wealthy countries spend less than 10 percent what the U.S. does on their militaries, and that 10 percent of what the U.S. spends on its military could end global starvation, provide the globe with clean water, and fund sustainable energy and agriculture programs that would go further toward preventing mass violence than any stockpiles of weaponry.  Millions will tell you that the world needs a global policeman, even though polls of the world find the widespread belief that the United States is currently the greatest threat to peace on earth.  In fact if you start asking people who have opposed every war in our lifetimes or in the past decade to work on opposing the entire institution of war, you’ll be surprised by many of the people who say no.

I’m a big fan of a book called Addicted to War.  I think it will probably be a powerful tool for war abolition right up until war is abolished.  But its author told me this week that he can’t work to oppose all wars because he favors some of them.  Specifically, he said, he doesn’t want to ask Palestinians to not defend themselves.  Now, there’s a really vicious cycle.  If we can’t shut down the institution of war because Palestinians need to use it, then it’s harder to go after U.S. military spending, which is of course what funds much of the weaponry being used against Palestinians.  I think we should get a little clarity about what a war abolition movement does and does not do.  It does not tell people what they must do when attacked.  It is not focused on advising, much less instructing, the victims of war, but on preventing their victimization.  It does not advise the individual victim of a mugging to turn the other cheek.  But it also does not accept the disproven notion that violence is a defensive strategy for a population.  Nonviolence has proven far more effective and its victories longer lasting.  If people in Gaza have done anything at all to assist in their own destruction, it is not the supposed offenses of staying in their homes or visiting hospitals or playing on beaches; it is the ridiculously counterproductive firing of rockets that only encourages and provides political cover for war/ genocide/ mass murder.

I’m a huge fan of Chris Hedges and find him one of the most useful and inspiring writers we have.  But he thought attacking Libya was a good idea up until it quite predictably and obviously turned out not to be.  He still thinks Bosnia was a just war.  I could go on through dozens of names of people who contribute mightily to an anti-war movement who oppose abolishing war.  The point is not that anyone who believes in 1 good war out of 100 is to blame for the trillion dollar U.S. military budget and all the destruction it brings.  The point is that they are wrong about that 1 war out of 100, and that even if they were right, the side-effects of maintaining a culture accepting of war preparations would outweigh the benefits of getting 1 war right.  The lives lost by not spending $1 trillion a year in the U.S. and another $1 trillion in the rest of the world on useful projects like environmental protection, sustainable agriculture, medicine and hygiene absolutely dwarf the number of lives that would be saved by halting our routine level of war making.

If you talk about abolishing war entirely, as many of us have begun focusing on through a new project called World Beyond War, you’ll also find people who want to abolish war but believe it’s impossible. War is natural, they say, inevitable, in our genes, decreed by our economy, the unavoidable result of racism or consumerism or capitalism or exceptionalism or carnivorism or nationalism.  And of course many cultural patterns interact with and facilitate war, but the idea that it’s in our genes is absurd, given how many cultures in our species have done and do without it.  I don’t know what — if anything — people usually mean when they call something “natural” but presumably it’s not the provocation of suicide, which is such a common result of participating in war, while the first case of PTSD due to war deprivation has yet to be discovered.  Most of our species’ existence, as hunter-gatherers, did not know war, and only the last century — a split-second in evolutionary terms — has known war that at all resembles war today.  War didn’t used to kill like this.  Soldiers weren’t conditioned to kill.  Most guns picked up at Gettysburg had been loaded more than once.  The big killers were diseases, even in the U.S. Civil War, the war that the U.S. media calls the most deadly because Filipinos and Koreans and Vietnamese and Iraqis don’t count.  Now the big killer is a disease in our thinking, a combination of what Dr. King called self-guided missiles and misguided men.
Another hurdle for abolishing war is that the idea rose to popularity in the West in the 1920s and 1930s and then sank into a category of thought that is vaguely treasonous.  War abolition was tried and failed, the thinking goes, like communism or labor unions and now we know better.  While abolishing war is popular in much of the world, that fact is easily ignored by the 1% who misrepresent the 10% or 15% who live in the places that constitute the so-called International Community.  Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come or weaker than an idea whose time has come and gone.  Or so we think.  But the Renaissance was, as its name suggests, an idea whose time came again, new and improved and victorious.  The 1920s and 1930s are a resource for us.  We have stockpiles of wisdom to draw upon.  We have example of where things were headed and how they went of track.

Andrew Carnegie took war profits and set up an endowment with the mandate to eliminate war and then to hold a board meeting, determine the second worst thing in the world, and begin eliminating that.  This sounds unique or eccentric, but is I believe a basic understanding of ethics that ought to be understood and acted upon by all of us.  When someone asks me why I’m a peace activist I ask them why in the hell anyone isn’t.  So, reminding the Carnegie Endowment for Peace what it’s legally obligated to do, and dozens of other organizations along with it, may be part of the process of drawing inspiration from the past.  And of course insisting that the Nobel Committee not bestow another peace prize on a war-thirsty presidential candidate or any other advocate of war is part of that.
World Beyond War
The case against war that is laid out at WorldBeyondWar.org includes these topics:
War is immoral.
War endangers us.
War threatens our environment.
War erodes our liberties.
War impoverishes us.
We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

I find the case to be overwhelming and suspect many of you would agree.  In fact Veterans For Peace and numerous chapters and members of Veterans For Peace have been among the first to sign on and participate.  And we’ve begun finding that thousands of people and organizations from around the world agree as people and groups from 68 countries and rising have added their names on the website in support of ending all war.  And many of these people and organizations are not peace groups.  These are environmental and civic groups of all sorts and people never involved in a peace movement before.  Our hope is of course to greatly enlarge the peace movement by making war abolition as mainstream as cancer abolition.  But we think enlargement is not the only alteration that could benefit the peace movement.  We think a focus on each antiwar project as part of a broader campaign to end the whole institution of war will significantly change how specific wars and weapons and tactics are opposed.

How many of you have heard appeals to oppose Pentagon waste? I’m in favor of Pentagon waste and opposed to Pentagon efficiency.  How can we not be, when what the Pentagon does is evil?  How many of you have heard of opposition to unnecessary wars that leave the military ill-prepared?  I’m in favor of leaving the military ill-prepared, but not of distinguishing unnecessary from supposedly necessary wars. Which are the necessary ones?  When sending missiles into Syria is stopped, in large part by public pressure, war as last resort is replaced by all sorts of other options that were always available.  That would be the case anytime any war is stopped.  War is never a last resort any more than rape or child abuse is a last resort.  How many of you have seen opposition to U.S. wars that focuses almost exclusively on the financial cost and the suffering endured by Americans?  Did you know polls find Americans believing that Iraq benefited and the United States suffered from the war that destroyed Iraq?  What if the financial costs and the costs to the aggressor nation were in addition to moral objections to mass-slaughter rather than instead of?  How many of you have seen antiwar organizations trumpet their love for troops and veterans and war holidays, or groups like the AARP that advocate for benefits for the elderly by focusing on elderly veterans, as though veterans are the most deserving?  Is that good activism?

I want to celebrate those who resist and oppose war, not those who engage in it.  I love Veterans For Peace because it’s for peace.  It’s for peace in a certain powerful way, but it’s the being for peace that I value.  And being for peace in the straightforward meaning of being against war.  Most organizations are afraid of being for peace; it always has to be peace and justice or peace and something else.  Or it’s peace in our hearts and peace in our homes and the world will take care of itself.  Well, as Veterans For Peace know, the world doesn’t take care of itself.  The world is driving itself off a cliff.  As Woody Allen said, I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen, I want to live on in my apartment.  Well, I don’t want to find peace in my heart or my garden, I want to find peace in the elimination of war.  At WorldBeyondWar.org is a list of projects we think may help advance that, including, among others:

  • Creating an easily recognizable and joinable mainstream international movement to end all war.
  • Education about war, peace, and nonviolent action — including all that is to be gained by ending war.
  • Improving access to accurate information about wars. Exposing falsehoods.
  • Improving access to information about successful steps away from war in other parts of the world.
  • Increased understanding of partial steps as movement in the direction of eliminating, not reforming, war.
  • Partial and full disarmament.
  • Conversion or transition to peaceful industries.
  • Closing, converting or donating foreign military bases.
  • Democratizing militaries while they exist and making them truly volunteer.
  • Banning foreign weapons sales and gifts.
  • Outlawing profiteering from war.
  • Banning the use of mercenaries and private contractors.
  • Abolishing the CIA and other secret agencies.
  • Promoting diplomacy and international law, and consistent enforcement of laws against war, including prosecution of violators.
  • Reforming or replacing the U.N. and the ICC.
  • Expansion of peace teams and human shields.
  • Promotion of nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention.
  • Placing restrictions on military recruitment and providing potential soldiers with alternatives.
  • Thanking resisters for their service.
  • Encouraging cultural exchange.
  • Discouraging racism and nationalism.
  • Developing less destructive and exploitative lifestyles.
  • Expanding the use of public demonstrations and nonviolent civil resistance to enact all of these changes.

I would add learning from and working with organizations that have been, like Veterans For Peace, working toward war abolition for years now and inspiring others to do the same.  And I would invite you all to work with WorldBeyondWartoward our common goal.

David Swanson is Director of World Beyond War, host of Talk Nation Radio, author of books including War No More: The Case for Abolition, War Is A Lie, and When the World Outlawed War.

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