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Afghan Voices
Tuesday, February 15, 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Northern Lights United Church

Lia Gladstone spent 2009 as Professor of English and Drama at American University in Kabul. Afghan Voices is a multi-media presentation about her experience of teaching, traveling and working with a human rights group doing theater in Afghanistan. The program features excerpts from the writing of Afghan students.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A positive alternative vision of a workable peaceful world

Peace activist John Bostrom, who participated with me in the September 2005 civil disobedience at the White House has offered a thoughtful statement and critique of efforts of peace activists working to end the Iraq war and occupation that I would like to share:
I'm tired of asking people to call Congress. Congress may be listening, but most of them appear to be listening just enough to stay elected, while not upsetting the profitable militarized corporate applecart with anything but the occassional charade of a slap on the wrist. Our calls and letters make very little difference except when we're in the majority of a district or state - in which case, we've already elected one of our own.

But shouldn't we also face the fact that "mass" actions don't make much difference either? We've been trying to "do something really big this time" for decades. It's just not enough.

The lack of effective numbers isn't the problem. It's just a symptom of a deeper problem: the lack of an effective strategy. The real problem is that the peace movemen has become almost entirely reactive. We don't promote a specific positive alternative vision of a workable peaceful world in practical and especially economic terms. Almost entirely, we protest against what the corporate war machine, or their government lackeys, are doing. We get distracted over and over again into reactive outrage. Over and over and over, we say NO. We have no big, attractive YES as a real alternative.

Until we come up with a positive, workable economic alternative, and keep promoting that over and over, building the vision for it, proactively, saying YES to it over and over and over regardless of anything else, we're going to be seen as nothing but "protestors." We have to stay focused on that positive vision regardless of whatever else happens. Including the election of a proto-fascist. Including an attack on Iran. Including another terrorist attack, no matter how horrible. Any protest against the government has to be relegated to second place - merely the latest evidence, in a long chain, that war doesn't work, and that what is needed is our positive alternative. We have to find our YES, and start saying it over and over and over.

Even the most committed civil disobedience is only as effective as the positive vision it promotes. Saying NO is certainly morally worthwhile, but it isn't enough to replace a vision as identifiable, workable, practical, and organized as the vision of the corporate war machine. We need our own identifiable, workable, practical, and organized vision for a peaceful economy.

My starting point for that YES is the conversion of all nuclear bases and research labs to centers for an economy based on peace. Alternative energy research - wind, solar, and biomass. The rehabilitation of American manufacturing. The reclamation of the environment. And the maintenance and reconstruction of our failing infrastructure. A New New Deal for Real Peace.
John Bostrom

What do you think?

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