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Become a Traitor for Peace

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The seeds of fear mongering sprouted in our town a couple of weeks ago someone shot two high powered rifle or pistol shots at the local Mosque. One struck the door frame of a place where about three hundred families—including many children--gather to worship and share fellowship.  Luckily no one was there at the time. The members of the Mosque, mostly professionals and business people, contribute to the financial and cultural wealth of our city.  They are kind, thoughtful folks, just like many of your friends and family.This kind of hatred is also at times directed at anyone who we are told to be afraid of including illegal aliens (read Mexicans), blacks, homeless people, poor people of any color, and, of course gays.  This is one of the major tactics of a Republican Party taken over by corporate elites for their own agenda, and a party which has lost all legitimacy for its policies.  It is also the reason that whether Republicans or Democrats are in power, little changes.  The goals are to create enemies, scaring people into giving up liberty; wage wars of aggression; and, enrich the corporate elites while loading the consequences on working people and small business.  It works as long as you distract the masses with hating and fearing one another.I was asked to speak at this year’s International Day of Peace Celebration at a local city park on September 21st, along with a number of talented and inspired speakers.  -  As with many good things this event involved a lot of time and effort donated by a lot of people, (and they should be honored for their efforts), which should have inspired thousands to turn out, not just the hundred or so who did.  But such is the effort it seems we put into peace.The Mayor and City Council honored the day with a proclamation but didn’t show up.  The U.N. in proclaiming the day evidently didn’t think of the practicality of having it at sunset during Ramadan and the evening of Yom Kippur, preventing Jews and Muslims from attending.  If we are serious it seems like we ought to put our own community needs ahead of the U.N., especially in view of the recent events described above.  Of the rest of the people who didn’t come (even with a President who only has 25% support for his war) it seems most are afraid to say publically “we are for peace.”Who can blame people? After all, according to some radio hosts, “those people for peace are traitors.”  Maybe that should be a new organization named Traitors for Peace.  Recently, some of the things I have heard on our local talk radio have included: “I went to an event at the Progressive Center and there were Muslims there.” (you know there’s got to be a crime there), “We should just nuke Mecca.” , “Those against the war are traitors.” “My God, Democrats are for Peace.”, “Ship all the illegals back to Mexico.”, “There is no way a gay person could properly raise a child.”, “They cold cocked him, and he went to the hospital (regarding the Jena 6 victim without mentioning he went to a school event that night).” and, of course, there is always the ever popular “moon bat liberal.”  These are some of the voices heard daily on both local and national radio programming, including some religious stations in the city called The Body of Christ (Corpus Christi, Texas).None of this of course is meant to actually encourage an intellectual thoughtful discussion of the issues.  It is anti-thoughtful ranting that is meant to appeal to the ignorance and fear of every individual who hears it.  It is meant to; hate and alienate us from one another, engender fear so we will lean on the power of the state for protection, giving up freedom in the process.  It is also meant to bypass thinking, discussion, and meaningful cooperation. Why don’t we just call it what it is; racist, sexist, homophobic, name calling, and fear mongering propaganda?  If you don’t believe me ask yourself, would these same folks who are against Mexican workers achieving the same citizenship as their own ancestors, be against granting asylum to the Swedish women’s bikini team?The domination of the airways by these little Goebbels is meant to intimidate those who don’t believe this bunk by giving them the impression they are alone in their beliefs of building a better community through cooperation.  The idea is to keep them isolated and separated in their silence.Ownership of these media outlets rests in the hands of corporations whose only motive is profit, and getting those elected who will increase that profit, most of the time at the expense of the common good. So feed them bread, circuses and throw in a lot of fear (and its reaction, hate) for good measure.  Go buy a big screen television and learn how to hate someone while you become a prisoner of your own addictive consumerism. “You deserve it, indulge yourself,” is the message.You see if people start to recognize the things they have in common and build on them, the few who usually run things will quickly be shown the door by the rest of us, especially if they won’t become part of the solution.  The only way a minority of exploitive people can continue to run the country, the state, and the community is if they can get us to focus on our differences and fight each other.  We live on a planet, in a country, and in a community facing immense problems,problems that will not be solved for us by the folks running things. They haven’t done it before, and they won’t do it now.  The one place we can be most effective in bringing about change is where ever you are.  To do that we have to ask ourselves a very hard question, “what am I afraid of?” Our fears are the source of our hate and isolation from one another.  Ninty-nine per cent of our fears will never be realized, but they certainly will prevent us from reaching our individual and community potential.  It’s the thing that keeps us from reaching out to my “different” neighbor; avoid  participation in public service and community discussions, and of course, showing up at a peace event. The question I have to ask myself is what kinds of things do I allow to be put in my mind?  Do I say, I don’t agree with that and leave when a co-worker or friend says something discriminatory based on sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality or other difference?  Do I turn the channel when I see hate being pushed on television or hear it on the radio?  If I don’t I am silently complicit in supporting that message, even if I disagree vehemently.  You see, they don’t ask if you like or don’t like the program in the ratings, only whether you listen-- and ratings sell.  Do I buy products from those who sponsor hate with their advertising in our community?  Maybe the question I should ask myself is, “what can I do that is more positive with my thoughts and time then feeding hate? What can I do to make my community a place of respect and tolerance? Maybe that’s why places like Austin (you know the People’s Republic of Austin as the right wingers like to call it) that promote tolerance and respect of differences attract major quality investment, and we get the fly by night guys.Let’s not encourage any more borderline nutcases to shoot at mosques, churches, synagogues, or anyone else for that matter. Let’s change the way we look at each other, think about each other, and treat each other. In fact let’s look at, think about and respect each other. If you disagree, stick to the facts, don’t make them up to support your fears, and, in the worse case scenarios, agree to disagree.  But most of all, listen with an open heart and mind.  Why are we afraid of peace? Why are we afraid of finding out how much we have in common?There is an ancient native American Mic Mac saying, “If you doubt that we are all one, tell me, what language is laughter and what color is love?”  Hope to see all of you at next year’s International Day of Peace Celebration, our children deserve to see what we can be.
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John Kelley is the Managing Editor of a monthly progressive newsmagazine, "We the People News", in Corpus Christi, Texas
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