If For No Other Reason

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

Maybe it was the recent mailing that shows Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes,

FY2015 Pie Chart Flyer

or maybe it was a the gift of a little book, War No More: The Case for Abolition at last week’s Peace Education Center board meeting,

or maybe it was reading a short piece on the Israeli prime minister’s recent statement that it was the Palestinian Authority’s decision to seek involvement in various UN activities including the Geneva Conventions that was undermining peace discussions, or maybe it was the shooting at Ft. Hood. I don’t know what specifically triggered this blog today, but surely all these things contributed. As author David Swanson makes so clear, the possibility of abolishing war begins with believing it is possible. It was the same necessary first step in ridding the world of slavery.

Or maybe it was Rebecca Solnit’s piece in Today’s Guardian, Call Climate Change What It Is: Violence.

Yes as the War Resisters’ League pie chart above makes abundantly clear, the forces for war and violence are aligned against those who believe in its abolition. President Eisenhower’s parting alarm about the military-industrial-complex has come to pass. Forty-five percent of our taxes are spent for military efforts. We have bases and soldiers, and increasingly private profit contractors housed all over the world.

Abolishing war and violence is possible, if we think it is possible. David Swanson clearly thinks it is and marshalls a strong case for its abolition. Like slavery, those of us in the senior age category are not likely to see its complete abolition in our remaining years, but how can we not work with everything we have to make it more likely that our children or grandchildren will know it and enjoy it?

Cynicism and pragmatism are convenient and lazy barriers to change. Like the battle we have with growing greenhouse gas releases we know the first step is halting investments in fossil fuel companies. A similar approach is called for divesting from military investments. If we were to reduce our investments in militarism, we could reinvest in peacebuilding as evidenced in this legislation before Congress. Let’s push forward the possibility, using Milton Friedman’s sage advice…


Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.
Milton Friedman. Capitalism and Freedom, p.2 (cited in Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, Enough is Enough, 2013).

Our children and grandchildren deserve our best efforts….

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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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