Thursday, June 24, 2010

Before walking...


For this new "adventure", a recent experience of mine is instructive. Several years ago, I decided to ride a motorcycle from the Arctic Ocean to Tierra del Fuego. It was a dream hatched over thirty years earlier. The only problem was I didn't have a motorcycle, nor a motorcycle license. I didn't have the skills to take a motorcycle on unpaved roads (or where there were no roads.) I was unfamiliar with international laws regarding travel and didn't even know if it were possible to ride from one end of the hemisphere to the other. However, once a goal is created (wherever it came from), the education begins and things seem to "miraculously" fall into place. It will almost assuredly take much more time, effort, money and (most importantly) support and assistance than anticipated, but with a focus, commitment and persistence it's possible to succeed. A step at a time. At least that was one of that journey's lessons.

So, just thinking about this concept of opposing wars, of "walking for peace" (both figuratively and literally), a flurry of daunting questions come to mind. Some must be sorted out early on, but other answers will certainly have to await discovery further down the road.

There are very general questions:
  • Is the goal worthwhile (or might it be simply naivete and foolishness?)
  • What do you think you (we) can accomplish?
  • What does the existing peace movement look like (locally, nationally, globally)
  • What institutions and resources are already dedicated to this goal?
  • What obstacles are to be anticipated?
  • Are there those who really want war?
  • Why have we failed to stop war?
Then there are more specific questions:
  • What does the global "war economy" look like?
  • How much does the U.S. spend on war and "defense" (distinguishing the two)?
  • What do we know of clandestine war-making?
  • How much do other nations spend?
  • What nations have privatized militaries or rely heavily on contractors?
  • What are the relative sizes of world militaries?
  • Who are the major suppliers of weaponry?
  • Who are the major manufacturers?
  • Who are the primary beneficiaries of war - who profits from destruction?
  • Who makes the decision to go to war?
  • Who are the nuclear nations?
  • Who are likely to become nuclear nations?
  • Who has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?
  • What nations are at war? (and how long have they been at war?)
  • What is the U.N.'s role in ending warfare?
  • Which leaders have been democratically elected?
  • Which leaders have come to power through violence?
  • Where do our politicians stand on the issue? (What are their voting records?)
  • How do my actions contribute to the problem?
And these are just a beginning. But I think it is no coincidence that as these questions arise, the means to find answers are gradually revealed. One remarkable opportunity is the U. S. Social Forum, currently taking place in Detroit, Michigan. Although the agenda is extraordinarily ambitious and the spectrum of workshops mind-boggling, many focus on questions many of us share concerning the human weakness that leads to war.

The action-oriented agenda is positive, constructive and inspiring. They are talking "nuts and bolts" about how to "git 'er done!" It sure beats whining and complaining.

And if you're a follower of the mainstream media, you would think nothing is happening.

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