The people in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere have achieved more in a few weeks than twenty years of mass murder, torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, white phosphorous, drones and night raids as delivered by our warfare state. Exactly what have we accomplished in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan other than blotting out millions of innocent lives, including the lives and families of our troops and creating endless enemies as we recklessly endanger the lives of our own citizens? The wasted lives and trillions spent in bankrupting the United States stand as a witness to international criminality.
At the same time we have people of peace in the Arab world who are giving us an example of how to change the world without the mass murder of illegal and immoral wars.
Here at home we also have a host of peace makers who have been jailed for their nonviolent and spirited opposition to the merchants of death.
Those responsible for unnecessary, illegal and immoral wars should rightfully be detained together with the war profiteers, not those who work for peace and justice.
I was in Baghdad in January of 1991, just before a holocaust of 88 thousand tons of bombs reigned on that sacred land. That massacre was only the beginning, and the killing has not stopped for twenty years. Yes, it continued throughout eight years of the Clinton Administration. After I returned from Baghdad we had major demonstrations and civil disobedience in opposition to the upcoming war with Iraq. Theresa and I and our son together with scores of non-violent protesters were handcuffed and prostrate on the marble floor of the Los Angeles Federal Building and later detained in large holding cells in the basement of the Los Angeles Federal Building. While incarcerated we heard that the bombing of Iraq had begun. Yes, January of 1991. We reflected on how meaningful it was to be to be locked up in protest when this holocaust began. We have now witnessed a score of years of utter devastation.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING
This leads us to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s words at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. After he became conscious of the massive daily violence of the Vietnam War he said: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in ghettos without having spoken first to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”
(Beyond Vietnam Speech at Riverside Church in New York City, April 4, 1967.
Our nation has not changed since Dr. King’s death, we are still the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Dr. King called for a moral revolution and we echo that call today. What is holding us back? What is hindering the spirit of international peace making? Every time we reflect on our policy of endless war we can say correctly, ”Our people are better than that. Our family, friends and associates would not support that kind of behavior.”
To understand this problem we must examine how we have been socialized as citizens. In the 19th century it was called “manifest destiny.” It is basically the religiosity of patriotism. Clear heads have referred to militaristic patriotism as, “The last refuge of scoundrels,” And closely related to this scam is the trap of American exceptionalism.
Because of a “might makes right” position we can brandish thousands of nuclear weapons and threaten other nations like Iran because they might possibly be doing research on such weapons. We can practice preventative and aggressive war but other nations cannot.
We can intervene militarily anywhere on earth on behalf of our “national interests”, which have nothing to do with the common good of our citizens and at root are simply the interests of corporate capital.
It takes that new consciousness as mentioned by Einstein if we are going to change our way of thinking. We have been socialized into cult-like, irrational approach to 96% of the world’s people who do not live within our boundaries.
And why does the vast majority of our population enter into the silence of complicity during a policy of perpetual war which is recklessly endangering our people?
First there is the manipulation of fear which is the daily work of corrupt politics. Fear is the glue that keeps us silent and fear flows from the threat of punishment. Actually much of our lives have been ruled by such fear. Unfortunately manipulative fear is the byproduct of a great fallacy. In the field of Logic it is known as the fallacy “ad baculum.” This classic fallacy is identified as the implication that authority implies truth. However, philosophers have demonstrated for centuries that the argument from authority has absolutely no bearing on the truth of a statement. Certainly authority may speak what is true, but the possession of authority gives no logical force to what is said. Why then does the argument from authority rule our lives? Because authority can instill fear. Authority can flunk you, can fire you, can jail you or can kill you. If we do not change our way of thinking the manipulation of fear proceeding from authority will dominate our lives.
And this is why when we look at the Scriptures we see, “Don’t be afraid,” as a constant motif.
“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear,” says St. John.
In Liberation Square in Cairo we hear, “Fear has been defeated, there is no turning back.” When Dr. King was questioned about how it was possible for him to accept his role of the leadership of a vast movement, he responded, “When I put aside my fear of death.”
Our operatives control our drones from Arizona and Nevada and indiscriminately kill non-combatants every day. They are allegedly killing suspects. There is no national or international law that gives us a right to kill suspects. The people we are killing have no less a right to live than our citizens do. And what aberration of morality ever told us that they were of lesser value?
The moral revolution is based on truth telling which is a revolutionary act in a time of rampant militarism. We simply have to give up the idol worship of militaristic patriotism which is also known as jingoism. We shall not have strange gods before us.
One of the last great lectures of Howard Zinn who I always called the Dean of American historians was titled: “Three Holy Wars; The Revolution, The Civil War and World War II.” Zinn demonstrated clearly that these wars were neither holy nor necessary. And we find that this is true of all wars. The objective of the moral revolution is to abolish war. If we were here 200 years ago and brought up the idea of abolishing slavery, I think we would have had mild approval with so-called realists sadly responding, “Yes, slavery is just terrible, but that is our economic system you know and we simply cannot exist without it. We must be realistic.”
And today we join the thinking of 200 chapters of Veterans for Peace who clearly state their objective of ending war. We will hear the same refrain from the so-called realists saying, “Oh, yes, war is just terrible but it is human nature you know and there is nothing we can do about it.” It is time to stop the charade, this planet is not sustainable with the continuation of the war system. It is not simply nuclear weapons, it is war itself. And here is the rub, the environmental movement correctly proceeds with the denunciation of global warming, and that is the correct thing to do. But environmentalists are prone to ignore the catastrophe of militarism in their agenda. Why? Because in the playbook of our militaristic socialization it is unpatriotic to oppose our holy wars.
The moral revolution requires a marriage, a marriage of the environmental movement and the peace movement. The military of the world at peace is the biggest polluter on earth. The military of the world at war means that life on this tiny grain of sand in the universe called planet Earth will no longer have a human population.
When we enter into rational thought processes rather than the ad baculum logic of power which has marked much of our lives, we will recognize the realists as those who know that war is no longer acceptable, that there is but one race on the planet and it is the human race and that the archaic thuggery of militarism which simplistically declares others to be “bad guys cannot stand.
Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of a moral revolution as he created a moral revolution. The most morally desired events in history have been made by such actions of audacity.
“Don’t mourn, organize,” said Joe Hill, the labor leader who was executed on a trumped up murder charge in Utah in 1910. And that is our task as we face so much bad news. The response must not be, “Isn’t it awful?” but rather, “How can we turn it around?” The Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) insisted on facing reality and rejecting any form of denial. As we look at the world honestly we are correct to have a pessimism of the intellect. And at the same time we must have an optimism of the will. This is where the moral revolution begins. We observe and acknowledge the negative elements in the world and at the same time we believe that change is possible and we dedicate ourselves to be part of that moral revolution. “Thy will be done on earth…”
As we look at scriptural literature we see that faith is what we are willing to do, and not a formulation of dogmas. Yes, the moral revolution requires faith. And how is it organized? It is organized from the base. Take the Office of the Americas for example. We started with a few people sitting around our dining room table and discussing how we could move our activities from our home to an office. We had all experienced the profound negativity of US foreign policy throughout the world. The warfare state had taken millions of innocent lives. We had all seen the power of base communities in Latin America and how the formation of tens of thousands of such groups had transformed Brazil, Central and South America, and ultimately created a moral revolution in the Americas.
How is policy made in base communities? First the group intensely observes the reality in which they are living as they identify areas that require change.
Next a judgment is made on how that change can be effected. After reflection including prayer by those who pray, a praxis is selected. Praxis is reflective action.
Everyone in the base community participates in this base community determination. Then what happens? Once the general policy has been agreed upon qualified individuals form a like-minded team to take the responsibility for specific actions.
This does not include promoting a static political ideology. Personally I cannot distinguish between religious and political ideologies. In both cases the ideologues presume that they will work to fit the world into their mind set. This is futile and divisive position.
We determined that our objective is to change the foreign policy of the United States which has become an international empire of military bases.
Some people are comfortable working in electoral politics and we respect them. Personally I consider lobbying for change to be the most painful kind of work. Each visit to Washington, D.C. is a visit to, “Talk to the wall.” We get the message that our tripartite system now primarily represents the banks, the insurance companies and the military industrial, congressional, prison and gun complex.
The matter of mass mobilization requires a coming together of hundreds of base communities and that is what occurred after 9/11. It was the largest mass mobilization in the history of the world. Tens of millions of people came out internationally to oppose a war that had not yet begun.
The message of government was clear, “We don’t care what you want, we are going to have an unnecessary, illegal and immoral massacre.” Yes, pessimism of the intellect but optimism of the will. Since that time, those who get their information solely from corporate sources are saying, “There is no peace movement.” The fact is that the peace movement is in every city town and rural area of this country and represents the hopes of the rest of the world as well.
Ethics and Logic are an important part of the base community. In ethics we see war as a clear and present danger fostered by lies, ignorance and malice. It must be abolished if the planet is to have a future.
And what is the logic of government? Most government and all military continues to be governed by the fallacy of the baculum, that is the club, the stick, the threat. The beginning of critical thought is the understanding that the Official Story of both Church and State is based on this ancient fallacy.
“I’m in charge here,” does not mean I am correct about anything. Throughout history many generals have clearly been out of their minds and that holds true for the present as well. The cult of militaristic patriotism is the delight of war profiteers. Actually most of us have been governed by the fallacy of the baculum at school, in the workplace and most of all in the military.
There are some occupational hazards in forming base communities. For example what can be called “super democracy.” On this matter let me offer a parable: 300 people are flying on a large jet aircraft and one of the passengers says, “I have just as much a right to fly this plane as the pilot does, I demand my democratic rights.” OK so far? And here is where authentic authority comes in. This is not the fallacy of authority this is the fact of having a specific competence. This is the respect required for actual expertise. No, you are not going to fly the plane without certification of competence. No, you are not going to keep the books of this organization if you have no background in bookkeeping. No, you are not going to plan an action in a war zone if you are not thoroughly informed about the situation.
Risk. yes, there are risks. Nothing can be accomplished without courage. All of the “experts” told us we could not have a march from Panama to Mexico in the midst the Central American Wars. They were wrong. And there is also financial risk. We were constantly told that we should not deal with anything negative about Israel or we would lose support. We refused to comply with these “experts” as well. “Cancel my membership,” was a frequent message. There are no moral restrictions on denouncing brutality by any government including our own.
The moral revolution requires an unwillingness to accept the “official story.” The more powerful the polity, the more ridiculous is the official story. No, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No, Iraq did not attack the Twin Towers. No, Afghanistan did not attack the United States. No, the Mavi Marmara did not attack Israel. Lies are the essence of official stories.
NATION STATE AS IDOL
The moral revolution requires an understanding that the nation state as the terminus of sovereignty is as outdated as the city states of old. U.S. laws cannot stop global warming. U.S. laws cannot stop war. International law must be respected by the singular great power. We have trashed the entire international legal system by our “might makes right” policies.
The moral revolution requires a denunciation of conventional wisdom. The ways of the rich and famous do not represent a model for us. On the contrary, we accept a preferential option for the poor of the earth. The current economic system is a failure for the majority of the people on the globe.
War making is a great business opportunity and at the same time a morally bankrupt choice.
Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi gave the model for contemporary moral revolution by wayof satyagraha, mass civil disobedience; ahimsa, nonviolence. He insisted on truth force in contrast to the imperial lies of the British. His weapons included non-cooperation, general strike and boycott.
I am proud to say that Gandhian methods are the contemporary tools of the peace movement internationally. The British Empire responded to Gandhi with ongoing bloodshed. We must demand that the Egyptian government not respond in a similar manner.
The commercial press frequently compares the reactionary governmental, armed and dangerous messengers of hate, racism and war to the peace movement as if they were two similar aberrations. They are not. They have nothing in common. This is true in Egypt and in the United States. One side represents oppression and the other side represents the oppressed. They are not the same. The moral revolution can easily make this distinction.
And the prophecy of the Messianic Era states:
You have shown might with your arm;
you have scattered the proud in their conceit;
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things,
while you have sent the rich away empty.
— Luke, 1
Our technology is centuries ahead of our humanity. If this were not true, there would be no nuclear weapons. The president calls for more education in technology and that is good but over half of the federal research funds in the United States today are for the military.
The focus on technology, however, is at the expense of the humanities. We desperately need the art of being human. Training has replaced education. Training is not education. Training is how to drive an automobile or how to operate a machine gun.
Education is the beauty that can come out of a humanized soul. Michelangelo would look at a piece of marble and say, “There is an angel in that marble and I think I can get it out. I can educe it, I can educate it.
Yes, we need training to fly the aircraft, but we also need education so the well trained pilot would never accept an order to eliminate fellow human beings.