A Journal of America's Political Soul Heaven & Earth: Where Politics and Spirituality Meet
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Issue No. 9 - Heaven & Earth
F E A T U R E S :

New » A Message for Humanity

On Morality: The Most Sacred Good

On Courage: Acting in the Presence of Fear

From Darkness, Awakening: A Department of Peace

Spirit Matters:
G&G Interviews Michael Lerner

We Still Need a Religious Left

9/11 and the American Empire:
How Should Religious People Respond?

Saving Fundamentalists From the Religious Right

The Dark Jesus: Spiritual Imagery Inspires Change and Heals Racism

Will We Choose To Survive?

A Sneak-Peak Interview with the Messiah

G&G Arts - Essay
Whose Good? Who's Evil?

From Darkness, Awakening

Americans are ready for a Department of Peace

Ever try to shift a paradigm? I salute the brave souls scattered around the continent – some of them are in Congress – who are doing just that, who are daring, right now, to challenge the conventional wisdom of war and peace at the highest levels at which the game of geopolitics is played. They're calling for the establishment of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace.

When long-time correspondent Bill Bhaneja, a senior research fellow at the University of Ottawa and retired Canadian diplomat, recently e-mailed me the proposal he co-authored with Saul Arbess for such an addition to Canada's government – inspired by U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's H.R. 3760 – I confess to experiencing a queasy skepticism that such a project was just too darn idealistic.

Then I thought about bird flu – and George Bush's wild musings two months ago about combating it with National Guard troops, that is, by implementing martial law to enforce quarantines. This from the man who has "degraded" (in the words of one high-level health official) the nation's public health system and underfunded and politicized every branch of government created to deal with national emergencies.

And it hit me with a jolt: The level of public awareness is deteriorating. We're now whelping leaders who haven't got a clue how to deal with complex social issues except to start shooting at them. And there's no adequate challenge to this in the media or from the opposition party, and apparently no public context big enough even to allow for debate.

For instance, there was Hillary Clinton the other day telling potential supporters of her run for the presidency, who I'd wager are against the war by a large margin, that the United States must "finish what it started" in Iraq, as though there's a consensus what, exactly, we started and what "finishing" it would mean, and how many more dead Iraqis and U.S. servicemen we might expect before we attain our unarticulated goal.

It was sheer politician-speak, in other words, betraying no courageous intelligence, no insight that our brutal occupation might be fueling the insurgency and creating the terrorists we're obliged to keeping fighting. But the media have already pegged Hillary a frontrunner, which means they're condemning America's anti-war majority, once again, to a campaign season without a presidential candidate who represents their ardent hopes.

This is intolerable. This is why I support and heartily endorse what is, in fact, a global movement to raise awareness by challenging the blood-myths of the nation-state and the inevitability of war, and the geopolitical canard extraordinaire that high-tech, high-kill, earth-poisoning modern wars have any chance of achieving controllable ends and do not spew incalculable suffering and future wars in their wake.

The Sensible Choice

"What we seek," write Bhaneja and Arbess, "is a world in which peaceful relations between states are a systematically pursued norm and that the numerous non-aggression pacts between states become treaties of mutual support and collaboration. We envision a world in which a positive peace prevails as projected most recently in the U.N. International Decade for a Culture of Peace (2001-2010) Programme of Action."

The establishment of a peace academy, the training of peace workers, the promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution at every level of human interaction – there's no reason why such projects should be nothing more than the flickering dreams of protestors at candlelight vigils. There's no reason why they should not be the business of government. I have no doubt whatsoever that the public is ready to move beyond the barbarism history has bequeathed us, and would do so in the blink of an eye if enough respected voices said, "Now is the time."

And respected voices are saying this, if only we could hear them.

"What is quite clear – and would become clear as you go along with this campaign – is that you are trying, and I consider myself with you on this in every way . . . (to create) not only a massive but a basic change in our culture, in our entire approach to our relationships with other human beings. . . . It's not a matter of simply getting another department of government. You're speaking of an entire philosophical revolution."

This is Walter Cronkite, in conversation with Kucinich last September at a Department of Peace conference in Washington, D.C. Kucinich, the hero of this movement, first introduced Department of Peace legislation in 2001. The bill now has some 60 sponsors in the House and, in September 2005, was introduced in the Senate (S. 1756) by Mark Dayton of Minnesota.

The architects of the war on terror have minds stuck in old paradigms of domination and conquest. Their enemy is always the same: Evil Incarnate. Today's jihadist was yesterday's Communist, playing the same game of dominos.

This war is doomed to create nothing but losers. More and more people – including many who are in or close to the military, such as Jack Murtha – are grasping this. As they wake up, the Department of Peace will be waiting for them.

"Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."
– Albert Einstein
Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. He is reachable at bob@commonwonders.com.


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Brent of Palmdale, CA writes: Bob: Many of us who have become informed about the divisiveness created by the political leaders in charge are beginning to realize some of the options for peace. You have hinted at a large majority that can come forth and bring about a change in this direction. The military, or rather, veterans. Be they current, or former enlisted men & women. Thousands of us visit VA hospitals, for a myriad of reasons. Should a few spread the word amongst others, the possibilities for peace grow. Those that have been exposed to DU from just being in Iraq, are a large contingent. I should mention the many 'experimental' injections they have received, too! When another expresses the sentiment to you, "May you be in good health," offer a silent prayer to the infected service members.

Peace is a noble ambition.
Posted Jul 2, 2006
HardHawk of Limassol, Cyprus writes: I think this writer has pointed out accurately most major issues he is writing about here, but I don't agree with him that the reason of the shortcomings either in health or other social issues happening in USA these last decades are because Bush and company cannot fathom the problem and solve it.

On the contrary, for the people on the outside looking in on what is happening in the USA today and for the last 3 presidencies, it is painfully obvious that these Governments have moved on a very well-rehearsed plan executed precisely on time to impose their laws and bylaws that effectivelly elevate them above the law preparing for the time that the real masters of USA who run the show behind the scenes for the time being will surface and take over the country.

Leaving in denial as to what is actually happening to the country and accusing one man is his fault and it is only base on his personal incopetense all this bad things are happening to the american people it is the worst case of DENIAL humans can master. As this line of thinking prevent the americans to see what is happening to them and lead them to the way of thinking, that soonest the regime change all will be well , and the ones inflicting this atrocities on them as I can not think of any other word that represent the truth of what happens to the american people and especially the children and the parents of this country.

Watching a small population (in the case of Lebanon) stand up and fight for their freedom and their right to decide their own future and their children's future, and then looking at America, it makes one wonder. Don't the American parents care what happens to their children? How come parents accept the drugging of their children in school, the dissolvement of their families, that they have absolutely no control over their own children the moment a social worker steps in, etc. I don't want to elaborate here as the spece is not the right one, but my opinion for what ever it's worth is: WAKE UP PEOPLE! This is not a rehersal and you are the victims of this action. What is about to blow in your faces over there will not affect the rest of the world and what you call the Land Of The Free and The Brave beside always been nothing but an illusion it will turn to be a living heel for all of you. As for what this writer says that america has the policy to respond to violense with violense I challenge every american to tell us when did ever attack america or performed violent acts against her since the begining of her history . This country of yours always been the agressor and not the other way around but she learn her lesson well from the ones who created her check your history whom . Always calling the ones she is attacking to enslave terrorist and this is not a new fruit caling people who defent their country against the opressor terrorist or savages . So promoting the idea that actually the real terrorist are the good guys and the patriots defenting their homelands are terrorist . Dont you lal think is time you wake up before is too late . We may loose some of our population aganst your agreesion but you people are going to loose everything and will take the place of your animals with your Digital IDs and numbered status . Think about it .
Posted Sep 11, 2006
Brent of CA, USA responds: Methinks thouest doth have some Islamic flavor within thine protestations...? You do come off as intelligent using the English language, then your use of it digresses to a point that your point is not taken. I did not know of any American aggression towards Cyprus, rather I think they're one of our allies. Hardhawk: Americans are waking up, although the slumber has been a deep sleep. Hang in there.
Posted Oct 24, 2006


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