"America is dealing death, not only to people in other lands, but to its own people. So say the most thoughtful and passionate of our youth, from California to Connecticut.... We think of ourselves as an incredibly rich country, but we are beginning to realize that we are also a desperately poor country - poor in most of the things that throughout the history of mankind have been cherished as riches. A revolution is coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. It is now spreading with amazing rapidity, and already our laws, institutions and social structure are changing in consequence. It promises a higher reason, a more human community, and a new liberated individual. Its ultimate creation will be an enduring wholeness and beauty - a renewed relationship of man to himself, to other men, to society, to nature, and to the land." Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America (1970)
Yes, of that much we can be certain if dreams come true, for wise men dreamed the dream time and time again throughout the ages - we think the Neanderthal man dreamed it too. We dreamed that love would make us whole again. We believed a radical revolution would turn the hearts of all that they might beat in harmony. We believed the New World would lead the Old World to make love not war. We disbelieved those of our fathers who said, "He who loves everybody loves nobody." Universal love seemed assured at the time, as if it were guaranteed by necessity itself. It all seemed perfectly logical in our youth. Now, thirty years later, a few of us are still dreaming, but barely, as the rest say, "That is all it is, a dream, and you dream in vain." We beg to disagree at our graveside as the parties of war prepare men and women for mutual murder. We hear not the throbbing of our hearts but the beating of war drums. We hear the raucous screeching of warhawks, and if we look far to the horizon, we see the vultures gathering at great heights. Our pathetic song is barely heard. The opinion polls are against us, and that is that.
We are not entirely to blame for the hell on Earth we call a state of war, for we have had fierce opposition, the same opposition our forebears encountered, from the same old party, the war party, the party of they. Who are they? We are they, from time to time, and, vice versa, they are us. But there is at least a formal difference to be drawn between the fractions - we have not given up our dreams of love and peace. They say utopia will never happen, not on their watch, not if they have anything to do with it, for, as far as they are concerned, our mission is and always has been and forever will be a mission impossible, and an evil one at that, a road to hell, in fact, ruled by killers.
After all, what sort of man would say that it is better to suffer an evil than to do one? better to be murdered and even to stand by while his own people are murdered than to do murder? Surely only Satan would make such a revolutionary claim! Or a mad man, for only an insane man would prefer to die than to kill. Put him to death, they say, for he is the enemy of humankind, we must kill one another to love one another, we must make war to keep peace.
And if we demur, they say we are cowards hiding behind the guns they wave in our faces. If we advocate world peace, they call us unpatriotic. If we speak of universal love, they deny its existence, then lay down barbed wire and write poems about clean brotherly love in war trenches. If we question their constitutional interpretation, they accuse us of uttering sedition. If we protest their resolve to murder people in a faraway land, they call us un-American at home. If we cite the inalienable rights of man, they reply with alien and sedition laws. And now they move to assassinate suspects without a trial, suspend habeus corpus, make secret arrests, torture prisoners, and strip citizens of their citizenship.
If we plead for the abolition of war to save millions of lives, they say providing better social security programs to soldiers is more to the point because war is inevitable to human progress. Moreover they say we must always make war, for we will never be perfect until death do us forever part in the embrace of their great god, Death.
If we talk about ethics, they put profit before principle, preach free trade at gunpoint, and idolize their pseudoconservative economists. If we speak of right over might, they say might is the only right. If we say fair trade, they say their free trade should be realized over our dead bodies. They recommend even the murder of priests and nuns for their own good, providing the graves are carefully hidden - their evil only in getting caught. They deal in death, in drugs and guns and laundered money, they consort with international criminals and commit crimes against humanity - if we object, they say they are making the world safe for democracy.
If we say Jesus, they recommend the Pinochet-Friedman economic stimulus program. If we say, free the man, they say, serve our political machine. If we say share, they say covet. If we petition for the living spirit, they give us the ghosts of the war dead. If we say whole, they say part. If we say humankind, they say party. If we preach perfection, they preach defection. In every hopeful metaphor and positive proposition they find some fault, and, instead of praising the good, they leap on the mistakes like a demented man on a sword, for they must find fault in others to justify their own faults, and spill the blood of others to justify their blood. If we advocate a right, they will eagerly find a wrong and embrace it to vindicate their vindictiveness.
|But we should not condemn them, for they are us. Those who hate the most are most in want of love. We understand that an angry man is often angry because he wants some good and does not know how to get it except by doing some evil. Thus many have been murdered to realize even our perennial dream, the dream of perpetual peace and universal love. It is the doctrine of hate that we must hate, therefore we do not stoop to their evil and kill them. We and even saints and angels will roast in hell if we adopt that doctrine, for, as we know very well, hate is hell. But then, war it will be because they will it.
Wait! There is some cause for hope! People all over the world have joined our march for peace! The polls shows the majority is against starting the war! Hurrah! the mother of vultures has spread her magnificent protective wings over us! Alas, alas, we are soon crestfallen, for the war was inevitable all along. The great commander-in-chief says it is up to him to decide that war is in our best interest - in fact he was elected to make war so the world would be safe for his democracy.
The decision has never rested with the people but with king, dictator or president and their rubber stamps. Indeed, people of this great nation of ours have been prosecuted for sedition for recommending that the ultimate question of war or peace be decided by referendum. Once again America would deal death, not only to people in other lands, but to its only people, and they say that is what made America great.