FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Pivot to Peace

OK, the history of the United States is one of a nation built on robbery, murder, massacre, exploitation by armed force, and predatory capitalism. We all know that. Few of us lose sleep over it, but it’s all documented.

Knowing this and reckoning with it all are two vastly different things. If ever a people showed us the path forward, it is the Standing Rock Sioux, peaceful but forceful, warriors but nonviolent, confrontational but invitational. They just want to preserve the land, sacred sites, maybe a bit of indigenous lifeways. They will even take the initiative to greet and shake hands with those who douse them with pepper spray and sic biting, snarling dogs on them.

Meanwhile, what has rich white powerful militarized US society done with the land?

Just think of Fort McClellan, in Alabama, polluted above, below, and all around. Even the local Anniston Star editorial board is at wit’s end about the failure of the US Army to clean up its colossal mess there. Alabama, it may be noted, is a Muskogean word and Anniston is in the general vicinity of the Alabama and Muskogee tribal lands. When they lived there before Europeans the environment was pristine.

To be fair, the US Army made much of this gigantic polluted mess, and many others across our land, before there were any meaningful environmental protection laws in the US. Or, as one colonel once stormed at an environmental group attorney, “We here to defend the land, not protect it!” Huh?

All cultures bring much good to our society; at this tough point the mature, wise citizenry would ask, what is the best from each that we can take? What has outlived its utility and should be discarded? What is hurting us and can be transformed?

At the core of most societal ills, from pollution to climate change and even to our general sense of well being, is how we manage conflict. We even have our high-ranking military officers acknowledge that climate change is a serious national security threat and that “inaction is not a viable option.”

Since the US military is the single largest polluter in the US and the single largest consumer of oil products (and therefore a major driver of climate chaos), we have to challenge ourselves at a deeper level to examine new methods of dealing with conflict that don’t involve thousands of military jet flights daily all around the world, thousands of truck-miles of military vehicles on every continent daily, and millions of gallons of fuel use daily by the hundreds of ships and thousands of boats deployed by the US military on the seven seas.

Over on the peaceful methods side, we are getting new research, new competencies, and new successes constantly—the most recent being the strong, innovative, and effective participation of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute in the long-sought peace in Colombia. There are now no more wars being waged in the Western Hemisphere. That is historic.

As we make history, let us learn from it and turn away from destruction. Perhaps it “worked” in the past. It no longer does and even the readiness and preparation and ongoing investment in destruction and threat of destruction is clearly massively harmful to us now and will only get worse until we take a breath and pivot toward peace. Let the activists—like the Standing Rock Sioux—and the researchers—like Erica Chenoweth—and the transformational practitioners—like John Paul Lederach—be our new generals and champions.

More articles by:

Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 23, 2019
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
B. R. Gowani
How news media should handle Trump’s lies
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail