These are some things I've been thinking about over the past few weeks.
I realize that those who are convinced there are terrorists behind every mail box, and every Muslim is out to kill us and take away our way of life will think me terribly naive, and out of touch with reality. Like I care. We are continually told that "everything changed on 9/11". Some things did change. What changed is that Americans were willing to trust the government, and to trade freedom and liberty for "security" (and in the process got less of both). What changed is that a lot of Americans started to believe that it didn't matter what happened to anyone else in the world, as long as we were safe, fat, dumb and happy here in America, everything was OK. What changed is that we were willing to let go of some of our deepest values, the rule of law, the fact that we don't do empire, and the fact that we don't torture.
1. I will not call anyone my enemy just because my government tells me to. This includes Iranians, Iraqi's, Afghani's, Pakistani's, or any other country who happens to take a turn in the Administration's "Axis of Evil"
2. I will not be afraid because my government tells me to. Some Americans are terrified that they are going to be killed by terrorists. The Administration has done a GREAT job of stoking that fear. The media has been a willing co-conspirator. I have never been afraid of terrorists. I have a better chance of an unlicensed, uninsured, AMERICAN drunk driver plowing into me and killing me on any weekend night than to be killed by a member of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
3. I will not give my government a pass on killings or torture just because they say they were "terrorists". There has been a lot of coverage on the killings in Haditha. All of the Marines involved have been let off the hook in one way or another. The people on the right have been crowing that this "proves" that they did the right thing. But, the fact is that 24 people, most of them women and children are still just as dead. There has also been a lot of coverage on torture, our use of secret prisons, Guantanamo Bay, etc. Some of the stories sound more like they should have come from Soviet Russia, or other ruthless dictatorships. Certainly NOT America.
4. I will keep myself informed. There is nothing more valuable to the current Administration than uninformed Americans. Uninformed Americans enabled the Administration to be able to convince that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and there were WMD's in Iraq. The Administration is going down the same road with regard to Iran - there are a few more people this time who are questioning it - this, I know must really irk the Administration - the script is not working as well this time. Unfortunately though, no matter how much questioning goes on, they will decide to go to war, and then it won't matter much.
5. I will study, pray for, talk about, write about peace. As I wrote about a quote from an Iraqi Doctor in a previous blog, dropping bombs (or torturing, or occupying a country) signals a loss of imagination. Too many Americans cannot imagine their country ever being able to be at peace with the world. It is not because it is not possible - it is because we do not have enough imagination. It is also because a lot of Americans, in reality simply do not want to live at peace with the rest of the world. I am absolutely convinced that we are on a path to war with Iran. The signs are all there. The Administration weakly bleats that they are trying for "diplomacy" but that "all options are on the table". It simply amazes me that Americans do not remember that this was almost the exact same script used for the run-up to the war in Iraq. It also amazes me that virtually every thing they said about the war in Iraq (we'd be greeted as liberators, the war would be over quickly, it would be paid for with Iraqi oil money) was dead WRONG. Why any American would trust ANYTHING they'd have to say regarding Iran is beyond me.
6. I will try not to lose hope. This is the hardest thing of all. The economy is tanking here at home. Americans continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as Iraqi's and Afghani's). If we attack Iran, my belief is that the world's economy will crash in a huge way, and we will see misery worldwide that we cannot even imagine at this point. How can I not lose hope with all of those things? I don't know. But I'll try.