RIVERA SUN – Independence Day is commemorated with fireworks and flag-waving, gun salutes and military parades… but one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams, wrote, “A history of military operations… is not a history of the American Revolution.”
ERICA CHENOWITH and DR. MARIA J. STEPHAN – Since 2011, the world has been a deeply contentious place. Although armed insurgencies rage across the Middle East, the Sahel and Southern Asia, violent civil conflicts are no longer the primary way that people seek to redress their grievances. Instead, from Tunis to Tahrir Square, from Zuccotti Park to Ferguson, from Burkina Faso to Hong Kong, movements worldwide have drawn on the lessons of Gandhi, King and everyday activists at home and abroad to push for change.
STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – Weâ€™ve all heard of the Blue Helmets â€” the United Nations armed peacekeeping wing. But have you heard about the White Helmets, the unarmed peacekeeping and first responders in Syria? Seeing organized nonviolence in the midst of violent conflict is not expected and not often found, but itâ€™s on the increase. There are Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, and the White Helmets in Syria.
RIVERA SUN – In this new millennium marked by the looming threat of transnational trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), one unusual trade adventure, Maine Sail Freight, will embark on a creative and bold journey as an act of defiance against what has become a poor standard of business-as-usual. When Maine Sail Freight launches its maiden voyage at the end of August carrying 11 tons of local, Maine-made cargo, the Greenhorns – a plucky band of young farmers – and the sailing crew of a historic wooden schooner are declaring their independence from corporate tyranny and re-invigorating sail freight as a wind-powered transportation agent of the booming local food economy. And, interestingly, they will be carrying one freight item that has a long history of revolutionary potential: salt. Yes, salt.
REV. JOHN DEAR – Los Alamos sits above the second poorest county in the U.S. and is located in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country. The land was originally stolen from indigenous peoples by the U.S. government. Radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory was routinely dumped into the canyons below and has poisoned the water, the land, the animals, and the indigenous people. Annually, Los Alamos Labs spends $2 billion for the sole purpose of preparing the weapons that have the potential to kill millions of people. Thatâ€™s why I call Los Alamos â€œthe worldâ€™s greatest terrorist training camp.â€
DAVID SOLEIL – As thoughtful, caring parents, we would never want to teach our kids that violence is the answer to any or every problem. We want our children to learn to get along with others, share, be kind, say “excuse me,” and try their best at an empathetic, “I’m sorry.” I thought I was attuned to the violence that surrounds us in American culture. However, a trip to our local department store with my kids yesterday was shocking. We stepped into the toy aisles. Here is a quick rundown of the toys and action figures, in order…
STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – When Gandhi met with the British viceroy Lord Irwin after his imprisonment following the 1930 Salt Satyagraha, they shared a pot of tea. Gandhi, mischieviously took out a package of contraband salt, opened it and sprinkled a bit into his cup. Looking at the astounded Lord Irwin he told him he did so in remembrance of the Boston Tea Party.
ROBERT R. HOLT – In May 1946, The New York Times reported that Albert Einstein had sent a telegram appeal to several hundred prominent Americans, asking for contributions to a fund â€œto let the people know that a new type of thinking is essentialâ€ in the atomic age. Einstein wrote in his telegram: â€œThe unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.â€ It is clear from other statements made by Einstein that the new thinking he called for was to abandon competition and the preparation for war, and to focus instead on cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Einstein added that, to be successful, such changes presupposed the eventual creation of a world government.
WINSLOW MYERS – Escalating tensions in the Ukraine raise the concern that the â€œfirebreakâ€ between conventional and the tactical nuclear weapons potentially available to all parties in the conflict could be breached, with unforeseen consequences.
WORLD BEYOND WAR ISIS STATEMENT – The following is an assessment of the current ISIS crisis. The statement examines: (1) the social context of the destructive violence in Syria and Iraq — where we are; (2) viable nonviolent alternatives — what should be done; and (3) opportunities for civil society to advocate and push for those alternatives — how we can make it happen. The alternatives and pathways toward achieving those are not only preferable from a perspective of humanity, but proven to be more effective.
DAVID SWANSON – Here’s my basic contention: Congress knows how to compromise. We don’t have to pre-compromise for them. (How’d that work out on healthcare?) (How’d that ever work out?) And when we do pre-compromise for them (such as the time AFSCME banned “single-payer” signs from “public option” rallies, so as to simulate public demand for what “progressive” Congress members were pretending to already want) we give significant support and respectability to some serious outrages (such as privatized for-profit health insurance, but also such as bombing Iraq yet again and bombing the opposite side in Syria that was to be bombed a year ago and while arming that same side, which — if we’re honest about it — is madness.
SHERWOOD ROSS – Why is there no non-violent outcry against America’s military-industrial complex? (MIC) A Congress that is complicit in its wars, surely will not reign it in.
RALPH HUTCHINSON – [Editorâ€™s Note: In the wake of the sentencing of 3 nonviolent objectors at the Y12 bomb plant in Oak Ridge, TN to long prison terms, this author takes the judge to task for the advice he offered the defendants from the bench. He develops his challenge into an insightful explanation of the way nonviolent direct action works to effect social change.]
ERIC HOLTHAUS – So itâ€™s come to this. Last year, a researcher presented a paper on climate change at the American Geophysical Unionâ€™s meeting entitled â€Is Earth F**ked?â€ which advocated â€œenvironmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.â€
STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – Nonviolent Army: to many, this would seem like an unnatural contradiction. Armies are by definition violent; nonviolence is too passive and weak to be of any use in societal defense. But . . . soldiers are only conditioned to use violence, . . . and nonviolence does not mean passivity; it means active, creative courage that goes beyond refraining from consciously harming others toward building a community where everyone belongs–where no one is â€œother.â€
KEN BUTIGAN – The December 14 rampage that claimed the lives of 28 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Conn., has prompted a vigorous new debate on gun violence in the United States and the emergence of a spate of legislative proposals that the president and Congress may broach sometime this year. While policies designed to outlaw or control guns are needed now more than ever, for many of us these efforts must be rooted in a larger imperative: coming to grips with the culture of violence that makes this kind of tragedy possible and seeing our way clear to an alternative.