October 15, 2001
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"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
More families of the 9-11 victims are speaking out in opposition to the military strikes against Afghanistan, like the parents of Gregory Rodriguez -- killed in the World Trade Center -- who said, "Your [President Bush] response to the attack does not make us feel better about our son's death... It makes us feel our government is using our son's memory as justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands."
We hear that President Bush made the decision to go on the warpath on September 17. This certainly did not leave him and his Administration much time to review the alternatives to military actions. Did he and his aides ever review other options?
On October 4th I sent the following e-mail to practically all past and present Swans' contributors:
What would you do, concretely, if you were 'in charge?'
Some of you have written about the Sept. 11 events for Swans. All of you have certainly analyzed those events within your own prisms. [...] And all of you must have read extensively about everybody else's analyses.
Analysis is fine. Still, could we move forward, that is go one step ahead of events upon which you have no control. Can we all step away from spectators' sport?
So, you are in charge. What do you do?
If you are interested to answer the question please note that I need your work by Thursday, October 11, 2001, latest.
This e-mail was both an expression of frustrations and a challenge; frustrations born out of the sentiment that we were being cornered, put on the defensive, for nothing more than expressing views that differ from those represented in the main media. Once the witch hunting starts in earnest one is faced with accusations of un-patriotism, un-Americanism, America haters, America bashers, belonging to the first-blame-America crowd, etc., etc., etc.
In other circumstances, it's a similar situation as that of a Jewish American who, because he or she favors the creation of a Palestinian State, is immediately accused of being a "self-hating Jew."
Still more frustrating was the sentiment that one is powerless, that one's voice is not heard, not even taken into consideration, in other words, not represented (did you notice the voting record in Congress for the past month?). Obviously, if we live in a republic with a representative government, something is not squaring!
It is our government, after all... Or is it?
While within hours of the 9/11 tragedy we knew what the response from our government would be -- in our names -- and were left with analyzing and expressing our ideas, opinions and thoughts with the full understanding that such views would be ignored, disregarded or discredited; while during the next few days we could hope against all odds that maybe, just maybe, our government was considering other actions -- like we hoped in 1991, when it took over five months to assemble the armada against Iraq which in turn was desperately looking for a face-saving alternative to get out of the entanglement, to no avail -- an exasperating question kept trotting in my mind: For good sake, are we destined to keep repeating processes and patterns that have continually failed? Remember the "war to end all wars?"
So, I challenged, in the words of Deck Deckert, all the volunteers who work so hard to make Swans a place of ideas, of sanity in a world run amok. Okay, what would you do, I asked. What are the alternatives?
You may consider the exercise moot since the military operations started just three days after my e-mail but I'll beg to differ. It is not a moot exercise. There were and there are alternatives. There are other options, for today, for tomorrow, for the future.
The crop of alternatives we present to you today comes from a very diverse group of individuals of all ages, from 22 to 75 years old, from various political leanings, national origins, educational and professional backgrounds and with varied sensitivities. One strong commonality among these alternatives is the absence of a warpath. Everything else is for the taking, from very specific actions to wide examination of the possible. Please form your own opinion, as always. Print these articles as Michael Stowell recommends and pass them on to your local library, schools, cafés and bookstores. Then ask yourself, "What would I do?"
Note: I may have challenged the members of the flock but I must confess that I was unable to take it myself. I could not meet the deadline as it took me much more time and energy than usual to put this rendition together. Anyway, is it not Robert Burton who once said, "Him that makes shoes go barefoot himself?"
Thank you for reading Swans.
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This Week's Internal Links
Casualties Of War - by Alma A. Hromic
Sparrow - by Michael W. Stowell
10 Years to Peace - by Deck Deckert
I'm Against Terrorism: Now, If Only We Could Get Washington On Side - by Stephen Gowans
Preface: Bingo! Simplicity Itself; Oligarchy - by Milo Clark
Back to Basics on the Way to Going Ahead - by Milo Clark
The Presidential Speech - by Milo Clark
Afterword: Function of Failures - by Milo Clark
Suggestions for Concrete Actions - by Jeff Lindemyer
Change the Education Paradigm - by Philip Greenspan
Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action - by Andreas Toupadakis
The Media Marches off to War - by Deck Deckert
A Day in Kafka Land - by Alma A. Hromic
Civil Disobedience (1849) - by Henry David Thoreau