The Occupy movement is demonstrating its durability and perseverance and continues to grow throughout the county. Each time it is knocked off balance, it serenely pops back up, as nonviolence has been the rule at most Occupy events.
The movement has been seeking justice for the 99 percent, and justice is an essential element of peace. If we are serious about helping the 99 percent, money has to be moved from the military to human needs.
Occupying Congress should be the next occupation, because Congress spends the money. For what seems like forever, our country has been spending more than half of its total annual discretionary funds on "defense," meaning for war. World military expenditures exceed $1.5 trillion annually, and the
War is a surefire way of transferring wealth up the social ladder. It is corporate welfare at its worst and most destructive.
It is time to stop being used as tools in warfare while others profit. War is not an effective or reasonable way to settle disputes. It wastes resources and destroys human lives. In war, people are expendable. Civilians all too easily become "collateral damage." In the nuclear age, civilization itself could become collateral damage.
As President Eisenhower warned back in 1953: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. … This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
He was ignored.
War is costly, not only in dollars, but on our national psyche. We slaughtered innocent men, women and children in
Ultimately, after the death of more than 58,000 Americans, and untold thousands of injuries, and the deaths of many, many Vietnamese, we withdrew in defeat, declaring victory. We seem to have learned little that is meaningful from the experience, since we continue to send our soldiers to fight and die in far-off lands; and still, their sacrifice is based on lies. Enough is enough.
How do we occupy peace?
Stop basing our self-worth as a nation on our military prowess.
Bring our troops home from exploitative foreign wars and seek peaceful solutions to conflicts.
Make justice our priority and work to end deaths due to starvation and preventable diseases rather than to inflict deaths by high-altitude bombing and drone attacks.
Take the lead in abolishing nuclear weapons so that no other cities or countries will suffer the fate of the citizens of
Reallocate our resources to health, education and ending poverty rather than continuing to gorge the military beast until it is too fat to move.
War leads to fear. Fear requires us to dehumanize our enemies, and in the process to dehumanize ourselves. That is a trick of militarists who are in need of enemies, real or imagined, to make the war system work for them. But there is another way to deal with enemies, and that is to turn them, by our actions, into friends.
We need to stop fearing each other and treat each other with kindness.
Consideration for the 99 percent does not stop at a country's border. We are all humans together, and we need each other to be fully human. We need to embrace our common humanity.
In the nuclear age, war is far too dangerous; it has the potential to end civilization and most life on the planet. Peace is an imperative. We need to find a way to occupy peace, which begins in our hearts and must expand to encompass the world.
Information for this column provided by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, www.wagingpeace.org.
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