Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tepid Anti-War Movement?

One question that lingers for those of us in the antiwar movement is whether we have "staying power." To wit, the recent 3rd anniversary of Iraq invasion saw rather small demonstrations throughout the country and world. And yet, at the same time, popular support for an end to the war has never been stronger. Is the lesson that activists can back off as their cause is taken up by the public? Or are we becoming jaded to the idea of perpetual war?

Moreover, it is disappointing that in Catholic churches throughout the land, there was little commemoration of the tragic anniversary. And it fell on a Sunday...what a chance to share our peace tradition. Some parishes did mark the event, but they seemed to be the exception. Again, my fear is that we are simply getting used to a Hobbesian view of the world rather than a Christian view of the world.


At March 21, 2006 2:03 PM, Blogger Bede the Venerable said...

I think you may be on to something, Griff. Perhaps since the war has become less popular, activists feel that there's less work to do.

But I don't think activists are getting accustomed to the idea of perpetual war. Maybe a more likely reason for a poor showing for the anniversary of the invasion is weariness. It's hard to devote lots of effort to something and see no results and get nothing in return for all your activism, except maybe a feeling of moral certainty.

My own feeling is that the anti-war movement needs to go deeper. Not deeper in its criticism of US policies, or of Bush, or Blair, or whomever. The anti-war movement needs to go deeper in the hearts of its own members. There has to be more than "go march and go home." Activists cannot be sustained by slogans and long walks in major cities when what they are opposing involves life and death themselves. Activism must have a grounding that is commensurate in gravity to the evil it opposes.

Slogans, chants, even political parties--in my mind these simply don't have the capability to sustain most people in the face of such monstrous evil.

At March 21, 2006 11:30 PM, Blogger Bill Quam said...

From where I sit, Bratislava, Slovakia, in the midst of a very outwardly "Catholic" country that counts itself as one of the best friends of Bush and the Iraq war has in the region. It seems to me that the protest marching has a rightful place to let elected leaders know how we feel, however in most cases people just go back to their old way of living after each "peak" march experience.

The only way "WE" will really change the current reality of "tipid" is when we change our lives and habits - such as what we purchase - "blood diamonds" from the DR Congo or gas or cars and begin the talk about "people centered" issues.

Mainstream America still looks at the anti-war movement as a counterculture "thing". When is the press going to refer to any of these activities as a "for Peace" type of "thing"? The answer is when all of us will create a daily "Peace Centered Life". We cannot be referred to as an "Anti-War Movement" and hope to have the staying power we need to address the real war - the plight of the child soldiers in the east of the DR Congo. Hunger - 1,200 or more people are still dying each and every day in the east of the Congo alone - that is over 30,000 each month and yet who is marching for them or against the terror they live with each and every day of their short lives? My feeling is we in the peace movement need to let everyone know in a strong yet gentle way that we consider people to be of strategic American interest. We stop letting selfish, Enron style business greed define who we are as a people. We in America need to learn how to touch peoples lives once again. We need to change the whole dialogue. The first thought could be something like "Why are not People of strategic military and economic importance to the United States of America?"

At March 28, 2006 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being younger, I've never seen protests do anything but reinforce each side's stubborn feelings of self-righteousness.

Maybe the deeper issue is the difference between reform and revolution. Why work to reform a political system that is unreformable?

What is it that peace activists are trying to do? Get Congress to pull out troops? Get the President to pull out troops? Get America to vote for someone who will? Get America incensed against our laws and demand they be changed? Reform the unreformable?

Paint the walls on the Titanic? :)

No wonder everybody is staying home. Why should I paint the Titanic when I can just sit here eating ice cream and watching TV?

What are we trying to work towards? A nicely painted Titanic?

There *is* Hope, but only in the Kingdom of God. Americans need to jump ship, literally - from one Kingdom to another. What sort of revolution this might look like, I'm not sure. But I know it is a revolution, not a reform.

Political activism and reform of governments won't achieve peace. Spiritual activism and revolution of hearts might. At least, this is how one young man looks at it.

At March 28, 2006 12:03 PM, Blogger Bede the Venerable said...

Re Bill's question, why people aren't considered strategically or economically important to the United States...

Seems to me that so much of what makes people qua people able to be considered unimportant in any sense is ideology. I'm talking about ideology broadly considered; basically I'm talking about any system of thought that at some point diverges from attempting to explain things as they are and starts ignoring anything which is not explainable by this system of thought itself. The system serves its own interests and fails to understand people for what they are, and prevents people from acting toward other people as they should.

For example, it is an ideology of professionalism that allows social or aid workers to sometimes refuse to help very needy people. Why? Because sometimes to help a person with a particular need would be to breach professionalism and enter into a personal (i.e. non-professional) relationship with the needy person. So the social worker can hide behind the ideology of professionalism, assign professional boundaries a very high value, and consequently ignore people whose needs are not satisfiable within those boundaries. I'm not saying this happens all the time or most of the time. It's just one example of how a system of thinking can keep a person from treating another person as important.

I think the same principle, then, applies to the realm of policy-making. There are entire systems of thought that prevent a politician, general, etc., from valuing each person as s/he should be valued.

Perhaps this is going to far. Am I right in thinking that ideology is what keeps people from seeing others as people, and therefore valuing them? And if that is right, how can one think about the world in such a way that people do not become devalued, or "strategically unimportant"?


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