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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Beating Weapons Into Plowshares

Some of my readers should be familiar with the Ploughshares Foundation, this group has been around for decades and has been instrumental in pushing international conversations about the immorality of war, especially using nuclear and inhumane means of killing more people faster and with less discrimination. The recent Obama Administration's release of kill numbers for drone strikes pointing out the fallacy of a "just" war. The lives of thousands of non-combatants don't matter one whit to the war machine. When you reclassify young men as "enemy", simply for reaching the arbitrary age at which you expect them to be able to carry a weapon, the demonization of people whose eyes you never need to ponder, is complete. There was a great rallying cry for the Revolutionary war propagandists that supposedly dates back to the Battle of Bunker Hill. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." This was to conserve powder and increase the kill rate with their notoriously inaccurate weaponry. Today, we use such overpowering force as to make even a heat signature on infra-red sensor a "target". Can our animosity extend even into the realm of hating someone simply because they have body heat? The thought of getting to know that we are all people, with hopes, dreams and aspirations, people who love their children and hope for them to have better lives than we have had seems so alien in acceptable political discussion as to be lost amongst the calls for "extermination", "nuclear war" and deportation or putting up walls around the people of this world that are one giant human family.

A woman, proudly displaying a placard that said: "You can keep your science." is far more willing to follow along flights of fancy, in which 1/3 of the world population is demonized, and "eliminated", than to understand fact. The vast majority understand that the likelihood of the other 2/3 settling for what would be left, after another World War, rather than finding some other division to exploit, is almost as silly as the initial prospect of killing off 1/3 of the Earth's inhabitants simply for their beliefs. A well-meaning and sincere man said to me just the other day that, "Anyone who reads the Quran needs to be deported. They are all terrorists" Little did he know, the same day, I had read a story about a Muslim, from Syria, he is a devout follower of his "God" Allah. As a recent refugee, he received a piece of furniture to start his new life in this country. His reading of the Quran spoke to him in a different way. When he opened a drawer and found fifty-five thousand dollars, and the personal information of 1500 private citizens, he turned it over to police, saying that: "Allah would not want me to profit from the labor of someone else. If we could only convince our oligarchs of such truth! The ignorant are not the ones who need to be condemned, but those who see their profit flowing from uneducated folks just falling into the line of stupid stretching to the horizon.

I would like to explain the reasons that understanding and being educated about history is such an important starting point in moving forward. My young neighbor girl looked at me very coldly when I spoke of important lessons in history (herstory). "I hate history." she said. If we imagine the current time as a lens, future can and will only be an upside down and backward representation of the past. Only things that are in the consciousness of people living right now, today are based on their beliefs of the past, their knowledge of what is real and possible that gets passed down effortlessly through generations. The uberwealthy have expunged virtually all stories about self-determination or fulfillment, any inkling of satisfaction and abundance, except in the peculiar stories about "crazy artists", "mad scientists", "inventors" (who are often said to have to forego satisfaction or acceptance in their lifetimes) or lottery winners (beneficiaries of the nanny state). There is a similarity of understanding here to things they teach in military academy, CIA training and diplomacy. Every story we tell about the past, expands our possibilities for tackling the future.

Before my time, there was a strong socialist tendency amongst my ancestors. Public Service, the local electric company used to use their extra electricity to power an electric trolley, transporting people from their residential areas to the commercial areas. This was a true public service. most people from my generation don't even know that in Old Green Bay, you didn't even need a car. Another socialist plan was scrapped because of the "conservative" ideas of our fore-bearers, One of the major paper companies knew that as part of their processing, massive amounts of waste heat (in the form of hot water) would be generated and they wanted to run a cooling loop under downtown sidewalks and roadways, so the city, and residents, would have never needed to shovel snow in the downtown area. The cost of fifty to a hundred years of snow shoveling was hundreds of times more expensive than just installing the pipes to allow the heat to become useful.

Knowing that, in the old days, large corporate entities had a conscience and worked diligently for the good of all, rather than just the tiny slice of the public deemed "stockholders" changed the way we see the oligarchs. From these facts alone, we can see that at least two corporations were ethical once upon a time. Knowing that there were better ways...(I could ride the train, leaving from Green Bay, Wisconsin as recently as April 30, 1971) The train that used to run from Chicago all the way to Ashland, Wisconsin (on the shore of Lake Superior) we need to understand that the costs of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of car trips back and forth to the Northwoods could have been eliminated, just by continuing the line. Instead, the corporate climate has changed, to one of heavily subsidizing the benefits that are realized by the fossil fuel industry and requiring the rest of us to pick up the costs. The weapons corporations use to eviscerate communities are many and understanding the long-term effects of cutting services, increasing dangers and risks and the inevitable ecologic destruction of making the wrong choices have impacts that will last hundreds of generations.

The forge upon which we create the new future is fired by the longing in our hearts and souls for our progeny to have at least as much as we were granted. The materials we have available are the massive military industrial wasteland, rife with attendant bust communities, our own intellect and creativity and the sense of community that has reclaimed some of the areas in our nation that have been reduced to rubble by time and neglect, and the knowledge that there have been ways for everyone to live a better life at far less cost, to our families, our communities and to our own health and welfare as well. The anvil, far too often, is the hardheaded people who do not care to hear the truth, no matter what words we use to speak it.

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