Written by: Terry Link
Primary Source : Possibilitator, November 25, 2015
Today is three years to the day I decided to try and blog about “possibilities”. While they have been rather sparse over the past couple of months, in total this is number 197 that I’ve published along with another dozen started but left dangling. The purpose for me was to share inspiration that we might find better ways to live on a finite planet as a single family. Hopefully a few folks have found something worthwhile.
Some 26,000 plus views of pages over that time plus an occasional comment let me know that every once in awhile something I’ve shared has been well received. So, we’ll continue for a while longer.
Although, on the eve of Thanksgiving, it is hard to find hope and possibility in our current time, even as I write this in comfortable shelter, with the steady supply of heat and electricity, and food only feet away. Yes, I am personally very lucky, privileged, and thankful for what I have been blessed with.
But the world has never seen so many refugees, fleeing war and disaster, and with the bellicose statements coming from our prospective leaders, many of whom are climate change deniers, the prospects for us (the human family) don’t look to promising. The leaders of the military-industrial-complex, that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about 55 years ago, are rubbing their hands with anticipation of even more profits as they arm all sides with the latest technical means of obliterating others.
I made the mistake recently of picking up the award winning, veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges, War Is the Force That Gives Us Meaning. I say a mistake because it is painful to read of the war experiences he has viewed in El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Guatemala, Nicaragua,Sudan, Yemen, West bank, Gaza, Punjab, Romania, and Algeria and the lessons he has taken from those experiences.
The cultivation of victimhood is essential fodder for any conflict. It is studiously crafted by the state. All cultural life is directed to broadcast the injustices carried out against us. Cultural life soon becomes little more than the drivel of agitprop. The message that the nation is good, the cause just, and the war noble is pounded into the heads of citizens in everything from late-night talk shows to morning news programs to films to popular novels. The nation is soon thrown into a trance from which it does not awake until the conflict ends. In parts of the world where the conflict remains unresolved, this trance can last for generations. (p.64)
This trance is most dramatically depicted in Mark Twain’s satirical short story, published after his death. You can read the full story here. I remember being compelled to read “The War Prayer” at a meeting of the university’s Academic Council the day before our invasion of Iraq. I have the same compelling force today to share it with you.
“Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
The compelling force arises in response to the supposedly Christians calling for slamming our doors in the faces of Syrians and others fleeing war and destitution. The same who are sabre rattling that we should destroy everything and everyone in our wake to get at the evil incarnate, ISIS. As if, centuries of war have taught us nothing. The escalation of fear-mongering and the corresponding call for yet more military spending are yet more fuel for the fire.
I took note yesterday of the celebratory report that a huge convoy of ISIS fuel trucks had been hit by air strikes. As the sale of those fuels helps fund ISIS it seems a good tactic. Yet, the amount of carbon released into an already overloaded carbon atmosphere is creating yet more refugees, including those same Syrians who are now running for cover. As Rebecca Solnit wrote recently, Climate Change is Violence, too.
So in this dark time, where are the Possibilities?
I saw them last weekend at the Peace Education Center’s Annual Alternative Gift Sale. I see them in the folks who attend the weekly peace vigil at the capitol. I see them with the groups of people volunteering to take in refugees even as their governors try to shut the door. I see the young people heading to Paris this weekend to push for global action to slow climate change. I see it in physicians and others who work in refugee camps.
This is a time to step up. If you’ve never written your elected leaders, if you’ve never joined a peace vigil, if you’ve never donated to a relief agency, and even if you have before. NOW IS THE TIME.
UM Prof of Public Policy and refugee and human rights expert, Dr. Susan Waltz has recommended the following groups working with refugees that could use your support. If you are like me, have much to be thankful for, let’s help those who are desperate.
UNHCR http://donate.unhcr.org (will redirect to UNHCR-USA for US tax-exempt donations) — is the central coordinating UN agency for Syrian relief
Mercy Corps http://mercycorps.org (active throughout the region)
International Rescue Committee http://rescue.org (particularly active in Iraq)
Recommended by a local Syrian-American surgeon who volunteers in the refugee camps
Syrian American Medical Society http://www.sams-usa.net/foundation
As international legal scholar Richard Falk notes in this piece published this week, [ a modified version of the Morton-Kenney annual public lecture given at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale on November 18, 2015 under the joint sponsorship of the Department of Political Science and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute]that “not one of the candidates of either party has any understanding of the questionable role of military power in addressing characteristic 21st century conflicts.”
We must do better in whom we elect in the new year. Let’s make what seems impossible, more possible in the coming year.
Blessings to everyone.