Monday, April 12, 2010

Divisions & Phantasms

Over the last eight and a half years, all my long held views of justice and human rights have been completely transformed. Twice.

From 9/11 until about the middle of 2005, I went from being shocked and horrified, and supporting military attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq to being completely disillusioned about the lies and sociopathic opportunism that we endured from the various tragi-comic actors of the Bush administration, and completely opposed to both wars.

A little less than a year after that, I became a full-time peace activist, and a member of Veterans For Peace. At that point I thought that I was fully awake, and that I had a clear grasp of what the issues were, and a pretty good idea about a plan of action, and how to apply my efforts through the organization that I felt, and still feel, is the best place for my energy.

I had a lot to learn, a lot to unlearn, and still believed that traditional politics were ultimately the way to restore what I thought had been destroyed by Bush.

I lobbied congress. I marched on Washington and in my local community. I wrote letters. I blogged. I stood at vigils. I learned to be an organizer, and a nonviolence trainer. I talked and worked with a whole range of people: Educators, gay rights activists, labor organizers, traditional groups like Democratic party clubs, nontraditional party groups like PDA, real leftists like Socialists and Communists, and immigrant rights groups. I talked with nonviolent anarchists, Republicans, Ron Paul people, Libertarians, and people who were disillusioned with politics completely.

I saw a lot of people get outraged, finally, and organize themselves around the Obama campaign. I felt hope. I wept on election night, and again during the inauguration speech.

As I write this, it's April of 2010.

Our empire is at war in six countries: Bush's war in Iraq continues, and though there has been some force drawdown. we are nowhere near the end of the occupation. Obama's war in Afghanistan worsens daily. Our unofficial war by robot drone continues in Pakistan, and has widened to include Yemen and Somalia. Our proxy war and occupation in Palestine by our ally (vassal?) Israel continues to wag the dog. Tensions flare with Iran.

Our journalists, with a few notable exceptions (thank you Amy & Rachel), do not do real journalism anymore. Climate change is still treated as if it is debatable, prisoners are still held without charge in Gitmo, the imperial presidency still reigns without check.

A false division has been imposed on the American people that label us artificially as 'Liberal' or 'Conservative'.

Many of the people who identify with social or economic conservative ideas have been sold on the concept that 'the Liberals' are out to to sell our freedoms, to spread socialism throughout the land, and to take away rights that they hold dear. They are Destroying America.

Many of those that identify with social or economic liberal ideas have been convinced that 'the Conservatives' have degenerated into a dangerous scary ignorant racist movement that either is laughable, or is irrelevant, or should be feared, depending on the pundit, but regardless, 'they' threaten to Destroy America.

The thing is, if you ask members of either group "Are you mad at the banks?" or "Do you think that your government is doing its job correctly" or "are you concerned about our Armed Forces?" you are likely to get the same answer. There are real policy differences, but angry reactionary outbursts and arrogant condescension solves nothing for anybody. I don't say that there are no wing-nuts, but realistically, they come in two flavors.

Liberal ideologues ARE arrogant and dismissive, and stop listening when they hear the words 'Tea Party'. Conservative ideologues ARE angry and reactionary, and sometimes buy into the "Ends justify the means" argument. So lets acknowledge that and work together. Can we channel the anger towards the banks, and force the politicians to give us real reform? Can we organize 21st Century style, with Twitter, Facebook, Virtual Worlds, and other emerging technologies to struggle for peace, and justice, and human rights, and against environmental catastrophe?

We the People can. Yes we can.