Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beyond Washington, DC

"I don’t have a degree like many of you out there before me have. But history don’t care anything about your degrees. The white man, he has filled you with fear of him ever since you were little black babies. So over you is the greatest enemy a man can have – and that is fear. I know some of you are afraid to listen to the truth – you have been raised on fear and lies. But I’m going to preach to you the truth until you are free of that fear …." –Elijah Muhammad, quoted in The Autobiography of Malcolm X; page 253.

I spoke on the telephone with my normal brother the other day. He had been a Tip O’Neill democrat when he left the East Coast in the 1970s. Much like my father’s brothers, who were FDR democrats when they left for California, my brother’s beliefs – fiscal conservative, social liberal – resulted in his becoming a registered republican. My father taught me that you do not turn on family, even when they make serious errors in judgement, and that this included when one’s brother went through a republican phase.

The Bush2 administration has largely cured my brother from the errors in thinking that made him believe the republican party offered the majority of Americans something good. But he has not returned to the democratic party. Instead, he is an independent, and votes for candidates as individuals.

He recognizes the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq as the single most important issue facing our country today. Every other important issue is, in fact, held hostage by the Iraq war, much as LBJ’s "Great Society" was hostage to Vietnam. When I asked him about the democratic candidates’ debate, he said that in his opinion, the single biggest problem is when the "front runners" dismiss what Dennis Kucinich is saying. He said that the top democrats seem to think Dennis is wrong to dare to tell the public the truth about the war. He thinks that the others want to tell some of the truth, but are afraid of the consequences of telling the whole truth.

That is the result of a combination of two things: people have been lied to for far too long, and they have become afraid of the truth. We see that fear in the cowardly actions of many of our elected "leaders." And we hear the echoes of those lies when our brothers and sisters try to rationalize that cowardice, and convince others that the democrats in congress have really played it smart and done the right thing. And all the while, we know that the Bush administration has been increasing the number of US troops, and that the violence continues to spin rapidly out of control. And the democrats’ actions that fund that can never be viewed as good if one removes the fear and the lies.

I’m not interested in debating anyone who thinks that funding the Bush madness is a stroke of genius. I am interested in discussing tactics for increasing pressure on the congress to end the war now, with the people who are interested in grass roots activism.

We need to work on a number of levels. They include public education: many people are opposed to the war, but are not convinced that their voice counts. We need to concentrate – now – on getting those people who feel alienated from the system, who feel disenfranchised from the voting booth, to register and to vote. In many ways, these people have a more accurate sense of what lies that some of the leaders from both parties tell. They aren’t afraid to say they find the system corrupt, and that they are unwilling to believe any politician who says that funding the war today will help end it tomorrow. They know that is as much a lie as saying that by buying an alcoholic a case of beer today, it will help him quit drinking tomorrow. No, we need to quit buying that drunk in the White House more beer, and we need to take the keys away from him, because he has killed too many innocent people when he drives while intoxicated.

We need to take part in organized campaigns to let the congress know that we are too that point that we were in when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said this about Vietnam: "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."

With those lines, Martin defined the difference between thinking that is infected by lies and fear, and that brave thinking that demands truth. I am convinced that we will only bring this war to an end when we begin to make Martin a reality in our daily lives, and in our communities across this country.


At May 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM, Blogger hizzoner said...

From the window of my rural, Midwestern home I can see storm clouds gathering to the South and West. I know rough weather will soon come and my powers as a human being are far too feeble to prevent it.

But I can live with that...that's the natural universe and not anything mankind has control over.

But then there's the Democratic Senators in Washinton D. C..

They are making a blunder that will inevitably lead to more deaths or both Iraqi citizens and American troops. Actions to stop it is NOT beyond human control but it is simply not being done.

I feel just as helpless with them as I do with the thunderstorm looming on the horizon.

God I hate that!



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