ROBERT KOEHLER – Why is the American sense of justice simply linear and bureaucratic? Why is priority number one, in the wake of such a crime â€“ a crime against humanity â€“ to charge, convict and punish, rather than heal, understand and change? Rupert Ross, in his bookÂ Returning to the Teachings, examines indigenous approaches to justice around the world: â€œThe purpose is healing, not punishment â€“ a healing accomplished by the full range of people who were affected by the original event.â€ This is the core ofÂ Restorative Justice.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Robert Koehler asks questions of the United States’ history not in regard to individual, but rather collective â€” governmental â€” behavior. He fears that as we unite, we diminish our ability to respect, and understand, the complexity of the universe, and of our fellow humans. We unite around simplistic certainties, and these certainties seem always to involve an enemy, or Other. And empowerment means being able to kill, rather than understand, embrace and learn from â€” or hear the music of â€” that Other.
ROBERT KOEHLER – We must free ourselves from the mindset of militarism, which is perpetuated not merely by politicians and generals but, inexcusably, by much of the media, which compliantly speaks their language. In militaryspeak, civilians may be bombed but theyâ€™re never murdered, at least not by us. If we canâ€™t avoid acknowledging their deaths, then they become collateral damage, necessary for â€œthe restoration of strategic stability.â€
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Are we transcending the religion that gave us slavery?
ROBERT KOEHLER – Itâ€™s far too easy to envision the chaos of emigration getting worse, with the worldâ€™s poorest (and most deserving) people trapped in ever-intensifying violence and desperation, increasingly walled off from hope by racist ignorance. Something else becomes possible when we begin to realize that unless we change the world, their fate is our fate.
ROBERT KOEHLER – What are we doing to ourselves? Is there life beyond plastic? I certainly have no answers, but the questions flow without stop. And they wonâ€™t break down.
ROBERT kOEHLER – In the linear world of geopolitics, militarism and mysteriously determined â€œnational interestâ€ rule and security means â€” though it is never put this way â€” playing games with Armageddon. This is called realism. And those who claim to be realists never â€” ever, ever â€” allow a word like â€œdisarmamentâ€ into the conversation, much less into the realm of political choice.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – â€œWar-making must be renounced. It is past time for the paradigm shift. We have one planet and we must see ourselves as one and we must take a stand.â€ Dud Hendrick of Veterans for Peace
ROBERT KOEHLER – Seven-plus decades ago, as humanity was ensnarled in a monstrous world war, its instinct to win â€” to dominate others above all else â€” achieved ultimate manifestation: the capacity to annihilate all life on Planet Earth.
ROBERT KOEHLER – The Senate’s “symbolic” Yemen vote matters hugely (you might say, in honor of co-sponsor Bernie Sanders). For one thing, Dems gain control of the House next year and the resolution could be reintroduced. Also, according to Reuters, some of the supporters are determined to introduce legislation calling for a ban on weapons sales to the Saudis; in other words, thereâ€™s more political action to come regarding U.S. involvement in this war.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Consider the limited thinking that produces a concept such as â€œborder security.â€ The essential assumption here is that the United States of America is primarily a physical container â€“ three and a half million square miles of freedom and prosperity, whoopee, but the supply is limited. Sorry, have-nots, we donâ€™t have room for you.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Weâ€™re stuck, at least here in the USA, with a pseudo-democracy partially but not completely controlled by certain special interests. We possess a fair amount of freedom of thought and action. Maybe itâ€™s not enough to dislodge the entrenched, money-blessed military-industrialism that is our ruling god â€” but maybe it is, if we can foment a Great Waking Up and start undoing the harm we have been inflicting on ourselves for so long now. The collapse of the Republican Party may signal that change is underway. So is the message from a few millennia back: Love thy enemy as thyself.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Cynical racism means throwing a bone to the political base, what Matthew Yglesias, writing at Vox, called â€œthe very promise of Trumpism â€” to narrow the definitions of who belongs, subjecting outsiders to a realm of cruelty and thus bolstering the favored status of the insiders.â€
ROBERT KOEHLER – Whenever the topic is nuclear weapons, I remain in a state of disbelief that we can talk about them â€œstrategicallyâ€ â€” that language allows us to maintain such a distance from the reality of what they do, we can casually debate their use.
ROBERT KOEHLER – The concept of the nation, an imaginary configuration of interests protected by military strength, is becoming increasingly obsolete. The United States, as the planetâ€™s largest superpower, must find the will and leadership to reopen itself to values beyond those coldly enforced by ICE.
ROBERT KOEHLER – Weâ€™re not who we think we are. We sanitize our past and call it heritage. We sanitize the present and call it justice. Itâ€™s time to start looking at the truth in all directions.
ROBERT kOEHLER – The challenge presented by Trump requires something more than resistance. I believe it requires reaching for, and pledging our allegiance to, a much larger, more compassionate and peace-oriented country than the one we have now. It requires pledging allegiance to the planet and the future.
ROBERT KOEHLER – The more that people lose touch with their own humanity, the more, I fear, they will feel the need to be armed â€“ desperately imagining itâ€™s the same thing as being secure. And the news cycle will continue, endlessly bringing us more of the same.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Austerity, the brutal tool of neoliberal capitalism, stands up to Greek democracy and stares it down. Oh well. Weâ€™re remarkably comfortable with soulless economics. Pope Francis, speaking this week in Paraguay, cried to the nations of Planet Earth: â€œI ask them not to yield to an economic model â€¦ which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.â€
ROBERT KOEHLER – Every war and every mass murder spreads fear and hatred â€” and inspiration â€” in their aftermath. We canâ€™t go to war without spawning imitators. The day after nine members of Charlestonâ€™s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered, USA Today reported, the vigils at two South Carolina churches, in Charleston and Greenville, were disrupted by bomb threats and the churches had to be evacuated. â€œAt some point,â€ President Obama said, â€œwe as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. . . . ” Until we begin demilitarizing our relationship with the world, such words uttered by presidents are as empty as the words Dylann Roof uttered in prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that fateful night.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER: Thereâ€™s no armor, it turns out, for conscience. So our men and women are coming home from the killing fields wounded in their heads, used up, greeted only by the militaryâ€™s own meat grinder of inadequate health care and intolerance for â€œweakness.â€