For Peace

26 11 2010

I read this quote: “Every act we perform today must reflect the kind of human relationships we are fighting to establish tomorrow.” Then I found where it’s from. I read the whole context. Now I share it with you. It starts out great, and it gets better.

I don’t usually like to discuss politics. Tea Party, Obama, etc… it reminds me of the dramatized soap opera of professional wrestling. But we’ve all been born into a world where politics exists. And money exists. And war exists.
SO! Let’s not dwell on it… let’s thank our training wheels, and now learn to fly. What are we gonna do now? And, how can we gently remove our training wheels? We can’t deny what’s here; indeed, it is here so we can bless it, so we can address it, so we can share our holy being with any “problem”, any “mundanity”, any thing the least bit displeasing to us… that’s where we can energize our life-work. Afterall, we don’t spend class going over what we know; we have class to work with what we DON’T know, where our understanding is shaky, where we can’t quite put it into practice. Maybe we know that if we insert variable x at the appropriate point, the equation will equalize… but maybe there’s a separation between our understanding and our practice. Maybe we know where x needs to go, but when it comes to moving, to placing, to actualizing, we falter.
Well THAT is life’s greatest gift, for THAT is where we can ignite our lives with the ability of improvement, the excitement of growth, the beauty of ever-remaking a newer, “better” version of our self, constantly re-writing what it means to be “Me”.

Those are my politics: self-development. How WE are immediately affects how we interact with others, how our social lives are… I call that grassroots politics. And as for more large-scale, social organizing, group interacting… maybe that’s an area where my personal life-work is.

Well, that’s a little bit of my current mind. Now, here’s something from some one else:


“Declaration of War” by Dave Dellinger

by Brian Kelly

As reprinted in Dave Dellinger’s autobiography, From Yale to Jail: The Life of a Moral Dissenter, the editorial, titled “Declaration of War,” written in 1945 after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fire bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, read:

“The atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki destroyed whatever claims the United States may have had to being either “democratic” or a “peace-loving” nation. Without any semblance of a democratic decision—without even advance notice of what was taking place—the American people waked up one morning to discover that the United States government had committed one of the worst atrocities in history.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were atomized at a time when the Japanese were suing desperately for peace. The American leaders were acting with almost inconceivable treachery by denying that they had received requests for peace, rumors of which had been trickling through censorship for months.

The atom bombs were exploded on congested cities filled with civilians. There was not even the slightest military justification, because the military outcome of the war had been decided months earlier. The only reason that the fighting was still going on was the refusal of American authorities to discontinue a war which postponed the inevitable economic collapse at home,* and was profitable to their pocketbooks, their military and political prestige, their race hatred, and their desires for imperialist expansion.

The “way of life” that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and is reported to have roasted alive up to a million people in Tokyo in a single night) is international and dominates every nation of the world. But we live in the United States, so our struggle is here. With this “way of life” (”death” would be more appropriate) there can be no truce nor quarter. The prejudices of patriotism, the pressures of our friends, and the fear of unpopularity, imprisonment or death should not hold us back any longer. It must be total war against the infamous economic, political and social system which is dominant in this country. The American system has been destroying human life in peace and in war, at home and abroad, for decades. Now it has produced the crowning infamy of atom bombing. Besides these brutal facts, the tidbits of democracy mean nothing. Henceforth, no decent citizen owes one scrap of allegiance (if he ever did) to American law, American custom or American institutions.

There is a tendency to think that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an excess that can be attributed to a few militarists and politicians at the top. That is the easy way out. It enables us to express our horror at the more obvious atrocities of our civilization while remaining “respectable” supporters of the institutions which make them inevitable. But obliteration bombing by blockbusters, incendiaries and atom bombs was a logical part of the brutal warfare that had been carried on for nearly four years with the patriotic support of American political, religious, scientific, business and labor institutions. The sudden murder of 300,000 Japanese is consistent with the ethics of a society which is bringing up millions of its own children in city slums. The lives of 300,000 “enemies” are distant and theoretical to business and labor leaders who find excuses for enjoying $15,000 incomes (and $150,000 incomes) while hiring workers for less than $1,500. Workers who passively accept starvation wages, periodic employment and relief checks, at the order of private owners and civic authorities, will also accept orders to put on a uniform and mutilate their fellow men.

No, the evil of our civilization cannot be combated by campaigns which oppose militarism and conscription but leave the American economic and social system intact. The fight against military conscription cannot be separated from the fight against the economic conscription involved in private ownership of the country’s factories, railroads and natural resources. The fight against the swift destruction of human life which takes place in modern warfare cannot be separated from the slow debilitation of the human personality which takes place in the families of the rich, the unemployed and the poor. The enemy is every institution which denies full social and economic equality to anyone. The enemy is personal indifference to the consequences of acts performed by the institutions of which we are a part.

There is no solution short of all-out war. But there must be one major difference between our war and the war that has just ended. The war against the Axis was fought as a military campaign against people, with the destructive fury, violent hatred regimentation and dishonesty of military warfare. The combatants were conscripts rather than free men. Every day that war went on they were compelled to act in contradiction to the ideals which motivated many of them. Therefore, “victory” was predestined to be a hollow farce, putting an end to killing that never should have been begun, but entrenching white imperialism as the tyrant of the Pacific, and contributing unemployment, slums, and the class hatred to the United States. The American people won half the world and lost their souls.

The war for total brotherhood must be a nonviolent war carried out by methods worthy of the ideals we seek to serve. The acts we perform must be the responsible acts of free men, not the irresponsible acts of conscripts under orders. We must fight against institutions but not against people.

There must be strikes, sabotage and seizure of public property now being held by private owners. There must be civil disobedience of laws which are contrary to human welfare. But there must be also an uncompromising practice of treating everyone, including the worst of our opponents, with all the respect and decency that he merits as a fellow human being. We can expect to face tear gas, clubs and bullets. But we must refuse to hate, punish or kill in return. We must respect the owners, policemen, conservatives and strike-breakers for what they are—potentially decent people who have been conditioned by a sick society into playing anti-social roles, the basic inhumanity of which they do not understand.

This is a diseased world in which it is impossible for anyone to be fully human. One way or another, everyone who lives in the modern world is sick or maladjusted. Slick businessmen and bosses, parasitical coupon clippers, socially blind lawyers, scientists and clergymen are as much victims of “a world they never made” as are the rough and irresponsible elements of America’s great slums. The only way we can begin to break the vicious cycle of blindness, hatred and inequality is to combine an uncompromising war upon evil institutions with an unbending kindness and love of every individual—including the individuals who defend existing institutions.

This is total war. But it is a war in which our allegiance transcends nationalities and classes. Every act we perform today must reflect the kind of human relationships we are fighting to establish tomorrow.




One response

27 11 2010
Ralph Halpern

David Dellinger was one of the Chicago 7: “Dellinger achieved peak notoriety as one of the Chicago Seven, protesters whose disruption of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to charges of conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting a riot.” But he was much older than the others, who were mostly around 30 years old. Dellinger, from a different generation, born in 1915, was 53 in 1968.

I can’t find the author of the powerful editorial. For a summary of the debate about the bombings, pro (necessary) and con (unjustified and evil), during and after the events, see:

Of course, the editorial views the bombings as symptoms of a larger U.S. condition, rather than a stand-alone decision about immediate actions and consequences. Sadly, the world’s condition at that time included not only American capitalism, but fascism (Germany & Italy), colonialism (England), and imperialism (Japan). DId America’s victory in WWII improve things or make them worse? Most people would say the world was better – more democracies, less classism, more human rights. But If the standard is “what could be,” then maybe it doesn’t matter who wins the battles.

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