Americans who voted for peace last November but are getting only more war are becoming increasingly disillusioned.
The majority of Americans, polls show, would slash the military budget by over 30 percent yet President Obama has increased it by four percent. A majority of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan but the Pentagon will garrison 50,000 in the former country indefinitely and dispatch perhaps 20,000 more shortly to escalate the war in the latter.
Since voting doesn't bring the desired change in national policies, people wonder what they can do individually. The answer is quite a lot. "Things have gotten bad enough in the minds of enough Americans that there is an opening for creating a mass movement for real change, and that movement is already growing all around us," writes citizen/activist David Swanson of Charlottesville, Va., in his new book "Daybreak"(Seven Stories Press). Swanson is cofounder of the anti-war After Downing Street Coalition.
He ticks off a number of examples where grass-roots citizen groups won a round vs. the Establishment:
# In North Dakota, farmers defeated efforts by St. Louis-based Monsanto to sell genetically engineered seeds.
# Threatened by corporate big-box stores, Utah local businesses created a successful "Buy Local First" campaign.
# Hundreds of towns and cities have enacted resolutions against enforcement of unconstitutional provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
# Chicagoans who had no good grocery stores banded together to create an organic urban farm and sell produce through a local market.
# Recognizing that America's Great Plains are the "Saudi Arabia of wind power," Rosebud Sioux are building windmills on their South Dakota reservation.
# Americans have created some 300 worker-run businesses.
# More than 100 towns have stopped corporations from dumping toxic sludge on farms.
# Residents of Tallulah, La., banded together to shut down an unwanted juvenile prison.
Swanson writes, "We will not create the necessary rebirth of American democracy by sending e-mails and making phone calls. We must do those things (but they are not enough). We must educate. We must create new media. We must lobby. We must march."
"Unless we creatively and non-violently block the path the empire is headed down and redirect the nation," he continues, "we will be increasingly ignored, repressed, manipulated, abused, and disappeared for the remaining days of this once bright and hopeful republic."
"What is needed in US civil society is a (non-violent) revolution" No amount of violence or strategic placement of violence could possibly create a more democratic republic. In our struggle for peace and justice we must not only avoid violence, but reject it so completely that no use of it can be plausibly attributed to us," Swanson writes.
If there is no peace group in your community, you can take the lead and form one from among your friends and acquaintances or members of your congregation. It's up to you to speak out against war and in behalf of peace before City Councils, church groups and youth organizations. Try to relate not only the damage done by war to innocent millions overseas but to the cost in your own community in lost lives, lost taxes, lost business, and lost opportunities. Point out how foreign boycotts are impacting sales of American brand products around the world and contributing to the recession and job losses here at home.
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