FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Walk to the NATO Summit

by BUDDY BELL

On what is now the 17th day of our walk from Madison to Chicago, the
number 165 does not seem to encapsulate all the progress we have made.
We are 17 days and 165 miles away from the day I drove into Madison,
 where news arrived that Air Force One had descended on pre-dawn Kabul
 for the forging of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement.

When I spoke at the May Day rally later the same day, I denounced what
 all indications show to be Obama’s continuing-for-another-decade war
 in Afghanistan. Almost immediately a lone man in the dwindling crowd
 started shouting vulgar slurs at me, with a lack of decency that was
amazing considering young kids were present.

The psychology of the moment is worth some analysis. What of the
 people who approached me and thanked me for my speech after I
 finished— what stopped them from shouting some slogan of affirmation 
to counter the trash talk? Maybe it was a lack of preparedness to 
respond, maybe a reluctance to be the first one to take a risk.

An analogy can be made for the United States government, although of
 course the stakes are infinitely higher. The powerful do hope people
 will be uninformed and ill-prepared, about NATO or any other pressing 
issue of justice. They certainly want complacency to carry the day, so
no one will jump-start a movement to reject the belligerent, fake
 virtues of poverty and war.

The miles go by, and we’ve now passed through more than 20 cities and 
had 5 formal speaking stops. Since this campaign started I’ve heard
from people who didn’t even know NATO was in Afghanistan— they now 
know how the two are linked. Many others have come away with useful 
new information about NATO and about people in Afghanistan, Iraq,
 Pakistan, Bahrain. All people not fundamentally different from
ourselves, who wish and hunger for peace and friendship.

Others expressed disbelief that protest can be effective. I maintain 
that first off, if we suppose it already has made a huge difference,
it won’t necessarily be obvious what that difference is. It can mean
we don’t yet have another war. Secondly, it’s not necessary to recruit
 51% of the public to our ranks, only a critical mass of people to
 start a chain reaction. Two becomes 4 becomes 8 becomes 16, and after 
a while, a bigger group offers some anonymity, making it easier to 
join. A politician can usually live with one act of protest, and the
 higher up you go, that politician can easily weather multiple
 protests. But none can survive opposed to a movement that is growing
exponentially.

This walk has been a movement-builder. We’ve informed and motivated
 people, and we have received information and motivation from folks
along the way— not to mention all the other kinds of physical
sustenance we have been given, for which we are very grateful.

We’ve recently been joined by a group of walkers from New York State,
 who brought enlarged pictures of some of the kids we know in 
Afghanistan to tape onto our placards. These young peacemakers are 
wearing blue scarves, which invoke the blue sky as a common symbol of
 comfort and peace. No one can buy and sell it, and it touches all
 nations and cultures. I’m glad the kids will be present with us on the 
walk in this small way because I know they will move more people to take new steps, commit acts of protest in favor of peace.

Let’s hop to it … because Uncle Sam isn’t known for his decency.

Buddy Bell is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence.

 

Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail