The "War on Terror" is also a war on us
I must confess, my brain, my heart, and my conscience are on ‘overload.’ Every day I am bombarded with the latest outrage, the latest sad and sick news, the latest abomination created, controlled, manufactured, and contributed for and by the Bush regime.
My levels of anger, frustration, anxiety, fear and worry are at an all time high. My sense of injustice is so raw at this point that the daily trip into this zone is a painful adrenaline ride. Many days I feel as if I am in a battle zone, the Bush regime’s war on terror is also waging a war on my sanity and on my life, but then I see the pictures and read the stories of the suffering of the Iraqi people at the hands of the U.S. military and their own people and this sobers me up from that self absorbed thought, so do the stories of the vets from Winter Soldier testimonies, as if I have anything to complain about, as if almost anything in my life I am experiencing could quantify as terror.
It is not as if I am a hapless victim of this overwhelming amount of ‘terrifying’ information. I choose to listen daily to AirAmerica radio, I choose to rent and watch documentaries sure to make my blood pressure rise, and I choose to go to my computer as much as I can throughout the day, read vast amounts of articles and commentaries, and then double check the information when I have time, and even when I don’t have the time, (which tends to create conflicts in other facets of my life). No one is forcing me to do these things. I do them all under the power of my own free will.
I frequently and daily pass on the information that I think worthy, often to the annoyance of those on my email lists. I also watch mainstream media just to see what it misses instead of what it informs me of. I get my cynical rocks off watching the inane, redundant, stupefying junk that the news media passes off as ‘information’. It is fully within my own personal power to ‘turn off’ and turn away from the reality we all face.
Many people I know choose to turn off, they adhere to Thomas Gray’s advice, “Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise,” after all every one of us has a lot to deal with just living our regular lives. A lot of people I know feel that any feelings of responsibility for what our government is doing is just too much of an added burden, and they wonder why I bother, that just the fact that they are going to vote in this election is enough: they’ll have done their civic duty, and that’s all that’s required. Unfortunately the reality we face requires much, much more than passively casting a vote, or voicing our dissent at next weekend’s dinner party.
Why is it so important to face the reality we find ourselves in? Jung said it best, “Consciously analyzed suffering produces growth while letting nothing roll besides the good times produces stagnation and delusion,” Delusion, what a wonderful description of the seemingly endless capacity for people to ignore reality. And just what is it that the vast majority of us are deluding ourselves about?
We delude ourselves when we think that what is happening will just magically ‘go away’ with the next president. We delude ourselves when we think that an election is the cure for what ails us. We delude ourselves when we deny our own individual responsibility in changing the trajectory of where our country is headed. We delude ourselves when we think that nothing can be done to stop what is happening. We delude ourselves when we think that the ‘War on Terror’ is only a war on evil crazy terrorists.
This delusion may feel blissful, but it is a dangerous delusion because as it says in The Call of World Can’t Wait, “That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn - or be forced - to accept.” What are the things that you will learn – or be forced- to accept? What have you already accepted and at some level have stopped questioning?
Recently I attended a showing of the film “American Blackout” and during the discussion that followed the film I stated the possibility that there may be no election at all considering the unprecedented powers that George Bush has put into play to declare martial law.
One person in the room said that stating such a thing shows why there is no powerful anti-war movement, that such statements turn people off and make me sound crazy. In deference to the ‘vibe’ in the room I let this man have his say without argument only because every one else was rolling their eyes at his rant, but to those reading this who agree with what he was trying to say, let me ask you this: ten years ago did you think in your wildest paranoid “government is evil” fantasy that this country and your president, would lie us into war with a sovereign nation, or codify torture, abolish habeas corpus rights, squash the posse comitatus act, spy on Americans, or that a “Principals Committee,” made up of top level people in a presidential administration would gather together and outline and approve the use of "combined" interrogation techniques – TORTURE -- on terrorist suspects, and these leaders of YOUR COUNTRY would sit together in a room to openly discuss torture techniques, to approve of them, and then work together to circumvent and manipulate the law so that the archaic and ineffective practice of torture, which is absolutely illegal, could then become ‘legal’ and there would be no accountability for those who had approved it or practiced it? If I had whipped out my crystal ball in 1998 and told you this was where Reaganism, conservatism, neo-cons, corporate greed, and a do-nothing congress, and a do-nothing American public and more would lead this country, you would have said I was nuts – crazy – a conspiracy theorist, yet these facts are a very small taste of the very reality we, you and I, face here in 2008. And it’s not a conspiracy theory if it is FACT.
This Must End
The reality is that these revelations while horrifying on their own, point to a future of even more horrifying consequences if we as individuals, and as a nation of people do not put a stop to these outrages. Delusion and denial are no longer an option. We must demand justice for what has happened, we must work to change what is happening right now, and we must prevent war with Iran, we must prevent the deaths and torture of more untold numbers of people, we must bring the criminal Bush regime to accountability, and we must work together for a sustainable peaceful future.
So, how the hell do we do that? We know the media isn’t going to help us, we know that the democrats aren’t going to do it, and damn if we aren’t pretty wrapped up in our daily lives, so how can we bring the spinning wheels of horror to a screeching halt? Well, you’re going to have to step up. You, your family, your neighbors, your friends, and this nation of peoples, frankly, they’re going to have to step up. World Can’t Wait says in its FAQ page:
We're talking about tens of thousands going into the streets with a clear standard -- BRING THIS TO A HALT -- and a spirited call to others to join this. Our recent statement envisions "a great wave of people unleashed from the huge reservoir of people who are deeply distressed over the direction in which the Bush regime is dragging the country and the world, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school -- joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition."
That kind of protest could and would make a difference. It would begin to galvanize into an active political and moral force the millions who hate the way things are going but are now paralyzed. The possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality. This would send a different message to the whole world.
Face it: no great change has ever been won without protest, without people acting "from the bottom up" to set a new agenda, without struggle, without upheaval. No. The protests in 2002 and 2003 didn't succeed in preventing the Iraq war, but they let the whole world know that Bush was acting in the face of huge public opposition. They put him on the moral defensive. And they helped to set terms for the future - as the ugliness of the war got revealed and people increasingly have come to oppose it.
The problem is not that our actions have had no impact; it's that we have not acted up enough. A new season of upsurge must start now, one that sets out to reverse the whole direction in which this society is now hurtling, and to dramatically change the course of history.
The stakes now are too high to keep going through the motions of protest as usual -- politics that say: the people in government exercise power and make the corresponding decisions and our only role is to protest certain things they do. Instead, we need to act on the truth that when people take massive and independent political action, they can change things very profoundly. People in the 60's did not ask the liberal Democrats then in office for permission to fight for civil rights and Black liberation or to protest the war. They just did it, mobilizing millions and effectively saying in the immortal words of Bob Dylan that "your sons and daughters are beyond your command." The whole ethos of a generation and a country changed.
As it says in The Call of World Can’t Wait: “We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history…..This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.
The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.”