Something that bothers me about instances like what’s going on in Palestine is the fact that it’s so far away. It’s true that people in the US need to put pressure on our government (since they are the one’s giving Israel almost all her weapons and support), but the real work will need to come from over there. The chances of us convincing enough politicians that the war needs to end are slim to none, but I feel confident that the Israelis and Palestinians can apply enough pressure to their governments to make a difference. I read this article and was greatly encouraged (even though Angry Arab linked to it, saying how lame it is) by the action it describes. It was nothing huge, nothing that will end the genocide, but it sill may have made a difference in just one of the Israeli soldiers lives. As was pointed out in the article, although killing is never easy, when someone thousands of feet in the air can just press a button and kill dozens of people, it is a lot more doable. The after effects won’t be as bad if one cannot even see the person or people (or little children) that one is killing. The first time I really thought about what happens in war is when I read the beginning of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Celine. He (or his character) is part of the French army, fighting some Germans and has this realization that the German he is shooting at has never done anything to make Celine be able to rationalize killing him. I have also heard stories by Iraq war vets who talk about going into Iraq ready to kill some terrorists, but when actually confronted with a human being in the terrorist’s place, things become a bit murky. This is what is happening in Palestine; if the Israeli troops had to go into Palestine and look each and every one of the children or old women or even young, fighting age men in the eyes before pulling their trigger and ending a life, things may be a little different. So, while the action mentioned above may not cause the world to shift on it’s axis – and much more escalation needs to happen – it is a start. If one soldier went home after seeing those people and thought about what (s)he is doing, then it was a successful action in my opinion.
One more article I wanted to talk about today was this one: a list of ten reasons to be hopeful and three to be worried about 2009. I don’t want to go through them or even spend much time on the couple I want to talk about, but I’ll touch on them briefly. First, is #7:
Social movements are building people power. Nonviolent civil disobedience is back. Climate organizers conduct “die-ins” and climate camps to shut down coal plants. Workers at Republic Windows & Doors occupied their factory when they were abruptly dismissed without severance and vacation pay. President-Elect Obama backed the Republic workers, implicitly inviting others to stand up for their rights. He also continues to organize people at the grassroots—right now through health care discussion groups. Thousands of these meetings being held across the country could build a health care reform movement with enough clout to overcome entrenched interests and move forward. (We may wind up calling Obama, Organizer-in-Chief.)
I have said very often that I don’t think Obama is going to change the world as much as people think he is, but I’ll save my opinions about calling him “organizer-in-chief” for another time. Besides that little comment, I agree with this very much; I haven’t been involved in activism for too long, but I have definitely seen the movement growing immensely over the past seven months or so. There are little things going on all over the country all the time that we don’t hear about, but when something like the Republic Windows and Doors occupation happens and makes the NY Times, we know something is building. As much as I distrust Obama, it was grassroots organizing by people who had never really been involved in anything political that got him elected, and he did come out in support of a factory occupation- something that shocked the hell out of me. We need to keep this momentum going, we cannot go back to sleep or things like the Palestine situation are going to continue to occur.
The only other one I would like to talk about is #9:
International cooperation is now possible, and it’s none too soon. The day of the lone wolf is over. Likewise, the day of the sole superpower that could bend the rest of the world to its will. Climate change, nuclear proliferation, failed states, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the collapse of ocean fisheries, outbreaks of genocide, environmental and human rights refugee crises, HIV/AIDS and other pandemics—all require international cooperation. That means everyone has a seat at the table, no one gets bullied, and the solutions have to be real ones.
I think we have a long way to go when it comes to international cooperation (on positive things anyway), but it is in the works. For the past decade or so, the US has been the only super power and has been free to do whatever it wanted to whomever it wanted, but that seems to be coming to an end. China is now a force to be reckoned with, Russia is regaining some power, a whole bunch of countries in Latin America are pulling together to resist empire, and even countries like Iran are courageous enough to stand up to Goliath. If these countries can find a way to work together – and I’m not NOT talking about anything violent – then we will have a new world by the next generation. The main theme in all three things I’ve written about today is you- the world is not going to change if the majority of people are on their couches or believing whatever they read in the papers and hear on TV. The world is going to change when we all educate ourselves, come up with our own beliefs, and act on them.