|Speaker: Chris Hedges|
"Law never made men a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well." ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
As Chris Hedges proclaimed last December when he committed to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience by refusing to obey civil laws in a last ditch effort to induce change in governmental policy concerning the on-going wars and occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan, "it's all we have left". As war -- perpetual and on-going war -- has become the norm in American society, it is neither criticized or rebuked by either faction of our two-party dictatorship. It's all that remains of hope for an end to the carnage, an end to the depravity of conflict inflicted not only on those we occupy, but also the psyche and ever-increasing percentage of our treasure that goes to training our young men and women in the trades of slaughter. Truly, as Gandhi wrote in Non-violence in Peace and War, "Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood."
In Washington D.C., yesterday's demonstration and observance of civil disobedience was seen and cheered by hundreds behind police-erected barricades, as over one-hundred activists, including Daniel Ellsberg and members of ANSWER Coalition, March Forward!, Code Pink, and several veterans organizations, risked arrest in order to expose and shine light on the continuing war policies inherited and escalated by the Obama Administration. As many speakers before the march and ensuing civil resistance noted, just showing up for demonstrations doesn't sway our governmental leaders anymore. The exploitation, manipulation, and subjugation continues. As Ralph Nader reminded us, $700 million per day is spent to operate and support the war and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. $700 million per day! This would appear hypocritically obscene and profane if budget talks weren't fixated on austerity cuts that primarily contribute to the well-being and welfare of the less fortunate in American society, but that's not the case. Both wings of our colluding dual-party dictatorship, continually echoing the patriotic script of freedom and liberty, are embarking on taking everything away from the middle and working class people in this society and handing it all over to the wealthy, the elite and the powerful. Perpetual war is one means to achieving that end. Sadly, by not resisting, the American people are complicit in their own demise. Yesterday, over one-hundred resisters stood up for the American people.
Voltaire wrote that it is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Chris Hedges, while at the podium yesterday, said war is organized sadism. Both men are right. Nations have borrowed billions for war, while no nation, to my knowledge, has ever borrowed largely for education. Undoubtedly, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and the betterment of civilization (although Lyndon Johnson tried). We must make a choice, and apparently that choice has already been made. We are seeing that now.