WINSLOW MYERS – “Stupid” is the most harsh and humiliating adjective that can be flung at a person, let alone a nation-state. What’s the usual response to being called stupid? Nothing positive. We just go into reaction and resistance. I’m sorry, but there is no other word to describe the obstinate refusal of the nuclear powers to cooperate to dismantle their nuclear arsenals even as the climate emergency sweeps across the world.
WINSLOW MYERS – We can look upward and outward from the echo-chamber of despair, greed, fear, and cynicism that mark our era. We can dare to set new planetary goals—feeding all the hungry, finding homes and work for refugees, demonstrating the advantages of representational government, and deploying the technologies of wind, solar, and battery to move beyond fossil fuels. The scientists that pulled off the Webb have provided the most powerful possible example of setting a high goal and then learning how to work together to achieve it.
WINSLOW MYERS – Which of these parallel universes of thought will prevail? Putin’s brutality, whatever its outcome, has only pointed up the stupidity and futility of violence and the perennial possibility of its opposite—a world that chooses survival, takes the risk of cooperation, and ensures a further stage in the unfolding human story.
WINSLOW MYERS – Are we wholly defined merely by our opinions? The great Sufic poet Rumi said: â€œOut beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. Iâ€™ll meet you there.â€ Kate Johnson, a Buddhist teacher, writes: â€œThe Buddha said that friendship is the whole of holy life. To accomplish it, we need only overcome our fear of reaching out to one another.â€
WINSLOW MYERS – Militarism is found in the rhetoric of all those, from the president to Rush Limbaugh, who push a joyless, simplistic us-and-them worldview that tries to negate the existential reality that we are in this together, all challenged to acknowledge our interdependence and steward the life-support system that sustains us. For this great task, militarism is obsolete.
WINSLOW MYERS – The enthralling new documentary directed by Iranian film maker Taghi Amirani and edited and co-written by the renowned film editor Walter Murch (â€œApocalypse Nowâ€; â€œEnglish Patientâ€) is a meticulous backward look at an event that still determines much of the resentment Iran feels toward the government of the United Statesâ€”and Britain: the 1953 coup which overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran.
WINSLOW MYERS – The times are too momentous for us to bite our tongues in the name of a veneer of civility that inhibits the constructive exchange of views. Civility, while necessary, is not sufficient.
WINSLOW MYERS – The United States is strong enough to lead the way into a new paradigm of self-interest, where dominance is replaced by a global network attuned directly to meeting human and ecosystem needs. Anything less threatens everyoneâ€™s survival. If we can offer help to our adversaries because we see it as self-interest, a different world is possible.
WINSLOW MYERS – With the executive branch demonstrably willing to gallop bareback off the established foreign policy reservation, the knee-jerk adversary of progressives for decades, the so-called â€œdeep state,â€ with its reflexive fear of Russian totalitarian infiltration and its perpetuation of military dominance in all earthly spheres, may at least be providing a sorely needed element of restraint and integrity.
WINSLOW MYERS – At some point in the near or semi-distant future, one way or another, Mr. Trump will have departed public office. For many reasons, perhaps most of all because we managed (if we do manage) to avoid nuclear war during his tenure, we will feel relief. But we may also feel a kind of letdown. Instead of having our anxieties focused upon the shallowness, impulsivity, and macho vengefulness of one particular leader, we will be forced to go back to worrying about the craziness of deterrence itself, irrespective of who is leading us.
WINSLOW MYERS – It is long past time for us to recognize that the greater enemy is not someone in another country shouting threats, but the weapons themselves. On the basis of this shared truth, new relationships among adversaries can flourish that will allow reciprocal reduction and elimination. Nature within her inmost self divides, and science has unleashed this process on earth as the mighty power of fission, setting before us life or death choices. It is not too late to restrain the rise of the machines we ourselves have created, and choose life.
WINSLOW MYERS – The distractions of the Trump presidency, even including Russian attempts to hack our democracy, have swamped events that may in the long run be of far greater historical significance. A primary example is the historic ongoing U.N. conference concerning the prohibition and eventual abolition of nuclear weaponsâ€” and our own nationâ€™s unwise boycott of same.
WINSLOW MYERS – Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous Riverside Church speech of 1967, â€œBeyond Vietnam,â€ cataloged the ingredients of the toxic brew we must acknowledge and eliminate if we really hope to make America great: rampant racism, materialism, and militarism.
WINSLOW MYERS – Torture and rape are unbearable enough, but a nuclear war anywhere could throw billions of people into the misery of worldwide starvation. It is a dangerous illusion to assume that our political leaders and foreign policy experts will magically prevent apocalypseâ€”that the generals on the front lines in Pakistan or anywhere else are sufficiently trained and disciplined never to fall into fatal error. With each further deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons, weapons that the United States and other nuclear powers are also developing, the temptation grows to cross the nuclear threshold. As Lao Tzu said, â€œif you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.â€ All nations share an interest in stepping back from a catastrophe where any â€œvictoryâ€ is a mirage that briefly disguises defeat for all.
WINSLOW MYERS – Trump and Sanders in their stark difference both from each other and from establishment candidates exemplify our national duality: fear-mongering and oversimplification from Trump, idealism and authenticity from Sanders. Every four years we have a fresh chance to look both for the real America and for the best possible America. Fifty-seven years ago, King pointed the way.
WINSLOW MYERS – Another mass shooting in the U.S.; Russia attacking whomever it thinks most threatens Assad; the carnage across vast swaths of the Middle East, where a Hobbesian chaos reigns so complete that one can no longer tell the players apart enough to decide upon rational strategic policyâ€”these disparate events are united by one primal cultural assumption: that humans murdering other humans represents an effective way to resolve conflicts.
WINSLOW MYERS – Iâ€™m not an expert, just another interested citizen who follows the news, but something genuinely bothers me about the U.S. negotiations with Iran, whether they are ultimately successful or not.
WINSLOW MYERS – Very stirring and eloquent words at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Mr. President, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. President Obama: â€œWhat they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.â€ Not only that nonviolent change is possible, Mr. President, but that nonviolence is by far the most effective route to change both at home and abroad. So stop sending those drones to kill innocent children in faraway desert lands, murders that create more terrorists than they eliminate!
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.
WINSLOW MYERS – A hundred years after the “Christmas Truce” it seems we would prefer to sentimentalize the story of Christmas in the trenches rather than using it as a measure of our own mental health. In the way we think about war, most of us suffer equally from group schizophrenia, made infinitely more dangerous by the presence of nuclear weapons combined with antique delusions of victory.
WINSLOW MYERS – Is it too much of a stretch to link the alleged police execution of Michael Brown in Missouri with the terrorist execution of journalist James Foley somewhere in Iraq? Setting aside obvious differences, do these tragedies have anything in common?
WINSLOW MYERS – The way the United States has chosen to approach the chaos of the Middle East has far more frightening implications than we think, especially in terms of the world our children will inherit. If we are honest about how our adversaries perceive us, we will have to admit that there is a grand cycle of violence and insult operating, in which we ourselves are implicated up to our necks. If we are to have any chance of breaking this potentially endless cycle (our military bases in Saudi Arabia leading to 9-11; 9-11 leading to the second Gulf War, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; the second Gulf War helping to create ISIS; ISIS beheading our journalists; President Obama suckered into reluctant bellicosity etc. etc. etc), we have to start by admitting our own role in itâ€”something extremely difficult for our culture, and therefore almost impossible for our political leaders.
WINSLOW MYERS – Few people remember them today, but there were significant global leadership initiatives in the 1980s against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The dawn of the nuclear era had coincided with the beginning of the Cold War. People in the United States and their leaders viewed the world through the lens of East-West cold war superpower tensions, reinforced by the rigid dualistic convictions of officials like John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959. A quarter century further into the cold war era, nearly 200 less powerful nations came to realize that a superpower nuclear exchange was potentially just as life threatening to them as to the superpowers themselves.
WINSLOW MYERS – The two-in-one of climate change and nuclear abolition is not something to be addressed after supposedly more immediate brush-fires are extinguished; by viewing it instead as a single challenge, an opportunity for cooperative prevention based in planetary self-interest, success will become a model for resolving more local conflicts without violence.
WINSLOW MYERS – Effective leadership must now initiate on the basis that the self-interest of my country is intimately bound up with the self-interest of my â€œadversaries.â€ Shia will not be secure until Sunnis feel secure. Israelis will not feel secure until Palestinians feel secure. Ukraine will not feel secure until Russia feels secure. No one will feel secure until we start spending less on weapons and paying more attention to resolving conflict nonviolently, developing compassion and empathy, and enlarging our frame of reference to include all of humanity and the whole earth. That is what it will take to bring new life to dead bones.
WINSLOW MYERS – Eric Schlosserâ€™s hair-raising new book about actual and potential accidents with nuclear weapons, â€œCommand and Control,â€ sharpens the dialogue, such as it is, between the anti-nuclear peace movement and nuclear strategists who maintain that these weapons still enhance the security of nations.
WINSLOW MYERS – Schultz, Kissinger, Perry and Nunn, those quintessentially establishment figures, have just posted in the quintessentially establishment Wall Street Journal their fifth editorial since 2007 advocating urgent changes enabling the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons on planet Earth.
WINSLOW MYERS – Because we are the wealthiest nation on the planet, we have the luxury of being proactive in ensuring our future security. But the path to that security looks very different from the way it did even a few years ago.
A primary example of our transformed security context is the realization that there is only one ocean of air surrounding the earth. Unless all nations make a concerted effort to convert to sources of clean energy, global mean temperatures will continue to rise and cause undesirable extremes of weather.
WINSLOW MYERS – Albert Einstein, the full measure of whose prophetic stature still has not been taken, wrote in a telegram to President Roosevelt in 1946: â€œThe unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.â€
WINSLOW MYERS – The vision and possible shape of a world beyond war has modified since the lessening of superpower tensions between the United States and the now long-departed U.S.S.R.
WINSLOW MYERS – After the silly season of the mid-term elections, where left and right each proclaimed imminent apocalypse if the other side prevailed, it can be a relief to turn to measured voices and larger views. No voice is more measured nor view larger than that of the late Thomas Berry, a historian of cultures who called himself a â€œgeologian,â€ because the ruler by which he measured current events was no less than the 13.7 billion year story of the universe itself.
WINSLOW MYERS — Two strategic goals of the U.S. are an apparent desire to control Middle East oil and the expressed commitment to help keep Israel safe. This requires the U.S. to refuse the laudable vision of the Middle East as a nuclear weapons-free zone, which would demand that Israel dismantle its nuclear arsenal. Instead, news reports indicate that Israel may be gearing up for a pre-emptive attack on Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities.
WINSLOW MYERS — When I was working as a teacher, I loved the phrase â€œbest practices.â€ It suggested pooled wisdom, a collective weeding out of the more effective from the less effective, a distillation of the authentic out of a world of potential baloney. It implied disinterested cooperation to figure out what really does work when weâ€™re trying to help children learn. Any collection of best practices would synergize with each other in a perfect storm of competency.
WINSLOW MYERS — The article in Rolling Stone that ended the meteoric career of General McChrystal shines light on the thought-process not only of one military man, but also on the dysfunctional paradigm now failing in Afghanistan. It is a textbook demonstration of how the mind-set of war itself, the notion of annihilating an enemy and emerging victorious, has become obsolete.
WINSLOW MYERS — What an extraordinary civics lesson for the students, faculty, administration, town officials and parents connected with the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School on Cape Cod! Two teachers, Marybeth Verani and Carrie Koscher, stood up at an assembly recognizing six students who were joining the military and held a sign that said “End War.”
WINSLOW MYERS: The hopeful energy that resulted in the election of President Obama has run smack into the depressing reality of the largest military budget ever submitted in the history of the planet. But effective strategizing for peace can only emerge from an accurate perception of where we are.
WINSLOW MYERS: There is big money in polarization, as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other media kingpins understand all too well. But one of the many tragic by-products of our polarized political culture is the demonization of conservatives by progressives.
WINSLOW MYERS: The challenge of helping Afghanistan while also serving U.S. security goals includes four aspects: first, U.S. fear of more terrorist attacks mounted from the region, second, fear that other powers, such as Russia or Iran, could assume undue influence, third, the potential use of the territory as a route to move resources such as oil and natural gas, and fourth, U.S. unwillingness to admit that the application of power may not part of the solution at all.