Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Steer Your Way

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I’ve given daily thought to the more alarming aspects of Trump culture.  Conversations among friends have been quite helpful, both here in the U.S. and in far- away Kabul from which I recently returned.  It becomes hard to envision constructive responses to Trumpism without a steadfast focus on the larger culture which has made the policies of previous administrations seem acceptable and normal. This is part of why I was quite willing to sign the recently drafted “We Stand for Peace and Justice” statement at www.standforpeaceandjustice.org. This morning I read comments about the statement that have been posted, online. It’s good to absorb criticisms and consider revisions. But a verse from Leonard Cohen also comes to mind:

Ring the bell that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

And more recently:

Steer your way through the ruins
Of the altar and the mall
Steer your way through the fables
Of creation and the fall
Steer your way past the palaces
That rise above the rot
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

In the spirit of steering ahead, intent on building ties with diverse people from all corners of the world regarding multiple issues, I hope the stance for peace and justice mentioned above will gain traction, raise discussions and help enlighten our collective future.

Here at Voices (vcnv.org) we’ve tried to better understand the call for diversity in our current, post-election context. Consider, for instance, a reflection by Betsy Leondar-Wright which was recently published in the UK based newspaper, Peace News. She encouraged people to build personal and political ties with people already targeted or potentially targeted by Trump’s campaign promises. “But,” she added, “we also need strangersinownlandto reach out and build personal and political ties with those Trump voters who aren’t committed haters, but whose economic woes and worries we can empathize with.”

Describing such woes and worries, Arlie Russell Hochschild, speaks of a puzzling paradox in the U.S.: “Across the country, red states are poorer and have more teen mothers, more divorce, worse health, more obesity, more trauma-related deaths, more low-birth-weight babies, and lower school enrollment. On average, people in red states die five years earlier than people in blue states.”

Hochschild moved to Louisiana in order to live among avowed Tea Partiers. She remained there for five years, befriending people who consistently opposed government regulations that might ease their woes, lessen pollution and prevent record flooding in their state.

Reviewing her book, Strangers in a Strange Land, Nathaniel Rich writes:

“Even the most ideologically driven zealots don’t want to drink poisoned water, inhale toxic gas, or become susceptible to record flooding. Yet southwestern Louisiana combines some of the nation’s most fervently antiregulatory voters with its most toxic environmental conditions. It is a center of climate change denial despite the fact that its coast faces the highest rate of sea-level rise on the planet.”

I read Nathaniel Rich’s essay, “Living in the Sacrifice Zone” while flying back to the U.S. from Kabul. Many people in Kabul could readily empathize with U.S. people living in toxic environs, lacking access to potable water, frustrated by joblessness, shut out of decent education, and likely to die at relatively young ages. Many are shocked by the lavish resources available to the U.S. military in Afghanistan compared to the desperation of 1.8 million Afghans now living as internally displaced people, some in refugee camps located just across the road from U.S. military bases.

While there, my young friends had asked me about the current population of the U.S. in relation to the total world population. The current population of the United States of America is 325,205,022, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
And the United States population is equivalent to 4.38% of the total world population. My young friends may be surprised to learn that U.S. people account for less than five percent of the world’s population but nevertheless create half of the globe’s solid waste.

Dave Tilford, reporting on U.S. consumption of resources, notes that “Americans consume far more natural resources and live much less sustainably than people from any other large country of the world.”

How do we get away with our reckless over-consumption? The U.S. has the world’s largest arsenal and an astonishingly high military budget. The U.S. congress just passed a bill authorizing the Department of Defense to spend 618 billion dollars in 2017, with more to come in future authorizations for next year.

It’s important for people to energetically unite in refusal to compromise with President-elect Trump’s terrifying campaign promises.  Yet we must also unite in refusal to compromise with wars and inequities that have already plagued our planet and species, under non-Trumpist Presidential administrations of both parties.  An essential question becomes:  How can people at last unite to tackle the very greatest terrors we face, the terrors of what, Trump or no Trump, we have been doing to our planet?

The frightening truth that our society is a train hurtling toward an abyss must be faced. We surely can’t expect leaders that have already made compromises with militarists and greedy corporate elites to stop the train, help people disembark and then pull up the tracks.  We must continually build alternative institutions and, as much as possible, stop paying for institutions that commit mayhem and murder.  We need unions willing to strike and activists willing to refuse payment of war taxes as I’ve been perhaps specially privileged to be able to do since 1980. We need voters able to see the full bleak vision of where our species has arrived.

I hope the “We Stand for Peace and Justice” statement will help groups form and build links through a larger movement, devoting daily activity and intense ongoing deliberation to lives built around active involvement addressing long-neglected issues. I hope a list of signers will rapidly grow, embracing increasing numbers of people in a commitment to honestly face and resist the genuinely dire prospect of environmental degradation, unceasing policies of war, prison profiteering, torture, and cruel income inequity “year by year, month by month, day by day, thought by thought.”

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail