Discussing politics in the United States is becoming a continuous boxing match with shadows of half-truths, distortions, misperceptions and wildly differing information streams. People meet in the street like aliens arriving from strange worlds that bear no resemblance to one another. Then they proceed to fight each other over whether the planets circle moons … or whether suns circle planets. It does not matter that they are discussing astronomical apples and oranges. Tensions escalate over who is right or wrong. Someone throws a punch. The fight is on.
The tools of nonviolent action and the skills of struggle are as vital to these times as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Training to use them is as essential as learning how to use a computer. The ability to boycott and strike is as important as the ability to drive a car. Every citizen who knows how to use email should also know how to protest, walk-out, shut-down, occupy, blockade, and more. This is the only way the power of the people can hold the power of oligarchs in check.
C.J. Hinke has produced probably the best collection I’ve read of writings by and about conscientious objectors and war refusers behind bars. It’s called Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison.
If you like being a peon, a serf, or a slave, by all means, continue on with business-as-usual. Your corporate overlords are delighted to exploit you. They’re thrilled at the prospect of profiting off your descendants for all eternity. But their hourglass is running out of sand. The planet’s ecosystems are collapsing. We will not last long as underlings. This is a paltry comfort as we slide toward mass extinction.
Gossip is the opium of the American public. We lie back, close our eyes and happily inhale the stories about Roosevelt’s and Kennedy’s affairs, Lyndon Johnson’s nude swims with unnamed partners and, now, Nixon’s pathetic “final days” in office.
“This notion that the Pentagon is a humanitarian rescue organization that goes around the world saving people is a fiction. And how many more times are we going to fall for this?”
There are those who would have us fold up our banners and take down our protest signs. They urge us to be reasonable and polite. They expect us to cram our dissent into narrow boxes of occasional grumbling comments and take our frustration out at the election box once every few years. These people write letters to the editor of small town newspapers claiming that the visible signs of dissatisfaction – pickets, protesters, political signs – are bad for business and distasteful.
Wishful thinking and random action will not topple the corrupt and powerful collusion of extreme capitalism, the wealthy elite, and military force. For all the courage shown thus far by people across the country in demonstrating, petitioning, even throwing their bodies in the line of danger, I call upon an even greater courage now …
You must believe that pockets of resistance exist. As America plunges into darkness, some people burn with resistance like fires in the night, aglow with respect for the civil liberties that define the modern ideal of freedom. The quiet murmur of their impassioned voices will call to you as they discuss nonviolent strategy and struggle, but you will not be asked to join them until you strike the matchstick of your heart, build a fire of your determination, ignite the blaze of your courage, and reach out to others.
Curse the war culture! It leaves us at a loss for words, bereft of metaphors to describe our situation. Our minds become blank slates, unable to recognize dangers at the door unless they carry assault weapons or drop bombs on our heads.
In modern times it may not even seem like an issue if a Christian can or cannot serve in the military, clearly Christians today and for many centuries do, so what would the issue be? On the other hand, anyone who has honestly read the gospels must recognize that the issue of violence is at the very least problematic in Jesus’s teachings. One would simply have to point to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38–47) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:27–31), or his teaching on the one taking the sword dying by the sword (Matthew 26:52), to recognize that Jesus tended to reject violence.
For too long, the women of this nation have been complacent while our brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers are sent to kill, maim, brutalize, destroy and even die in defense of our alleged liberty.
It is not enough to hurl your rage at tyranny . . . every bully knows how to dodge a hothead. Anger is the alcohol of emotions. We flush, courageous in its drunken heat, but our blows miss, we flail, and our opponent easily dispatches us.