Wednesday, February 16, 2011

War on war

I've lived through the War on Poverty (poverty won), the Vietnam War (the Vietnamese kicked us out of their country), the War on Drugs (drugs prevailed), the Gulf War (Iraqis will eventually get us all out of their country), the War on Terror (up for grabs but the first side to choose nonviolence will win and right now it looks good for the Arab street as they figure out how to outfox all sides in this inane war). While my father's generation virtually worshiped war as the way to manage all conflict, it has been decidedly unimpressive to my generation. Perhaps there are legions of glorious victors of the Great War to Liberate Grenada drinking together across the land, but I haven't heard reports. So I hesitate to call for a declaration of war, but I am just an old fogy who can't help but want to defeat my enemy. We need a War on War.

War already declared that it targets everything we love. War targets our children and our ability to make a living. War targets our families and our very homes. War targets nature and nature will strike back with a fury that will turn humankind into collateral damage. The question is not whether this war should be declared, but whether we should notice that war is waging it and that we are losing.

Listening to the most liberal of national news sources, National Public Radio, is like listening to reports from the campaigns. The European Union, for all its glitches and personality disorders (France on the couch, Italy in the bordello, Greece in anger management therapy), is edging ahead of war in this battle. Africa is gaining. The Arab countries have found a path to defeat the worst of war as they learn to separate the armed forces from the dictators and join them with the people. The US lags.

Republicans and Democrats discuss the budget and the 1,800-pound gorilla squats in the living room, eating off of everyone else's plate, and no one from either party or the mainstream media seems to notice. NPR goes over the painful details of cutting non-defense discretionary spending, which is already losing bone--fat was gone back in the time of the Clintstones, and all muscle was excised in the Bush Junior years. Nothing is left of that budget but pain management and we are watching war strip away that.

From the discussion about non-defense discretionary, the discussion quickly leaps to "entitlements." These are trust funds that are being raided by the most untrustworthy of all humans, the war promoters. Social Security fixed an age old problem of old age and we are now fixing to sacrifice more and more elders to the needs of war. Health care is also being fed to the maw of war and neither party can do much besides cluck their tongues. The Republicans from Richistan are grinning and the Ds are wringing their hands impotently.

At some point, just to show us that they know it is in the room, the NPR interviewers mention the gorilla in passing, calling it politically unfeasible. They may claim, in accordance with the gorilla's rhetoric, that the military gorilla will also be cut. The gorilla smiles and grabs more from other people's plates. He can live with that lie.

So, out of sheer desperation, I am calling for war on war. No one will notice, but I will have the personal satisfaction of making that call. And I know that, as my friend George Crocker once said, "We are going to win, and if we don't, it won't matter, since no one will be around to worry about it." Humankind and war are like host and parasite, host and disease. War has seemed to be like the common cold or a leech to many--a temporary problem that we overcome and get back to good health. But it is actually more like cancer. It will destroy us if we don't race for the cure.

The cure for war is a world of structural nonviolence, from the family to the schools to religion to politics to law enforcement to the economy to all security apparatuses and all social institutions. Like fighting cancer, prevention is key and the cures are many for different types of war. We just need to decide to engage. The rest of the world seems to be ahead of us, and our fate is unclear. Our choice right now is war and that hurts us every day, every month, every year. These choices produced our Great Recession and are fueling the erosion of our base of natural resources. These choices drop us farther behind in the race every time we make them, and the budget reflects yet another year of making exactly the wrong choices.

So I shout this call into the wilderness: time to wage war on war and race for the cure.

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