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Resolved: Act Like Bradley Manning


I was in Kentucky, more than a week, visiting family. “Get the paper,” my mother instructed, adding a “please.” When I picked up the December 25th edition of the Lexington-Herald Leader, the center contents tumbled from my grasp as if someone had ruptured a pi?ata. Colorful ads spread across the table, pleas to the tired, the poor, the masses, yearning for the almost free, the slash-priced bargains to be bought one day after the gift giving when store doors would open before sunrise.

But the BIG Pi?ata in the sky burst overnight and continued dumping snow through Sunday sunrise, afternoon, and long past our sad-hour glasses of wine.

Shoppers dug out, I later read, and made the drive to malls, adding more commercial cheer to the weekend.

My sister sang, “The weather outside is frightful.”

And that’s not all. If inclined, we, now, can fear underwear, ink cartridges, shoes, thermoses, and coffee cups and yield to hands that pat and grope for weaponized objects lurking, possibly, at the edge of or in a body cavity.

A female suicide bomber killed at least 45 refugees in Pakistan on Crassmas–the day many people rip through gift wrapping and stuff their pie holes to commemorate the birth of Christ. President Obama struck from his vacation destination in Hawaii with an oh, sooooooo American and sanctimonious admonishment:

Killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Program distribution
point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity. The
United States stands with the people of Pakistan in this difficult time,
and will strongly support Pakistan’s efforts to ensure greater peace,
security and justice for its people.

Isn’t killing an affront to humanity regardless of the location of the crime scene, whether the murder occurs outside a food distribution center, in Manhattan skyscrapers, on Afghan roadsides, or during a theatrically-named combat operation? Or when the carnage is the result of a U.S. drone strike or indiscriminate, unprovoked gunfire from an Apache Helicopter that kills civilians and injures children (U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning stands accused of disclosing video evidence of the latter massacre)? And isn’t the occupation itself an example of American exceptionalism, a civilian-killing mission accomplished? Furthermore, focus on the “peace, security and justice” soundbite–four words that convey one hell of an Obama hypocrisy-fest.

Also from Hawaii, Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie to praise the decision to give Michael Vick a second chance. Lurie said that the president “knew how Michael was doing?” Does Obama ever, even for one minute, consider the unjust incarceration and solitary confinement of Bradley Manning who was arrested after sending emails in which he admitted passing information to WikiLeaks–information exposing U.S. war crimes? Does the president know or care how Bradley is doing?

Despite the dark side of domestic and foreign exploitation, shopaholiday materialism continues. Tis the season.

Bubble wrapped in the safety of limitless wealth, the superrich purchase from a category called For Those Who Have Everything.

Millions, abused by Wall Street, want something non-frivolous, like holding on to their homes, a job, and healthcare–securities that separate hope from despair.

As the days of 2010 dwindle down, New Year’s resolution makers are listing good intentions.

Weight loss. Better diet. Exercise.

More time with family and friends.

Drinking less alcohol or none at all.

No more cigarettes.

And, YES, these are important.

But let’s work on mankind’s urgencies–alleviating poverty, prosecuting the crimes of banksters, the crimes of war criminals, ending the brutality of U.S. empire and torture, and demanding a REAL criminal investigation of 9/11.

Let’s resolve to be citizens of the world, caring for humanity, the species, and not just the country, state, neighborhood, school, team, or affiliation.

To honor our planet.

To demand justice.

To act responsibly and courageously. Like Bradley Manning. For him, we must do something huge. Because he did.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. She can be reached at


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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