“And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the year 2013 pulls up stakes and folds up it’s tent flaps, a new year eagerly awaits it’s turn in the wings. If one listens very closely and very quietly, one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as millions of Muslims exhale in unison. Thank goodness, this year is over. We don’t know how many more drone strikes we can take.” At the same time, citizens around the globe prepare to step into the new year with a nagging thought at the back of their minds, “Hmm, do we have any commodity resources the United States government might want to usurp?” This has been a brutal year for the American peasantry dealing with the widespread effects of austerity but most are not burying their loved ones whose remains are plastered to the butt end of a Hellfire missile. Or listening for the unmistakable buzz of the Reaper drone to know when to bring their children inside. Or wading through sewage in the occupied territories. As Fred Branfman wryly reported, “All told, U.S. Executive Branch leaders – Democrat and Republicans, conservative and liberal—have killed wounded and made homeless well over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years, mostly civilians.” This is a madness that knows no borders, knows no Geneva Conventions and knows no Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If this madness were found in an animal, we would put it down without hesitation. In the interim, foreigners always seem to make the most pliable scapegoats to keep our eyes from the real prize, a society built on cooperation rather than competition.
Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.’s paradigm-shifting speech at Riverside Church in 1967 could be just as easily delivered from any pulpit in America today. “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.” Any preachers worth their salt could deftly substitute Vietnam for any number of countries in the crosshairs of American hegemony…Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, et al. When will Bill Gates, lover of African children, speak out against the military intervention/occupation known as AFRICOM? How many more dominoes must fall before the global hunger games end? Clearly, the odds are never in our favor. One can only imagine the horrorshow in store for the dwindling few countries untouched by the American empire. Surely, there must be a few countries left for us to plunder. Heck, even Christmas wasn’t enough to ground the drones in Pakistan.
History marches on, sometimes in frightening lockstep. Howard Zinn dropped his own version of the historian’s bomb, without flinching, “By the end of the Vietnam war, 7 million tons of bombs had been dropped on Vietnam…almost one 500-pound bomb for every human being in Vietnam.” After all, I’m pretty sure the Pledge of Allegiance my first graders recite every morning concludes something like this,”…with liberty and one quarter-ton bomb for all.” It would appear that Major knew best, “And remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices. No animal must ever live in a house, or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade. All the habits of Man are evil. And, above all, no animal must ever tyrannise over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers. No animal must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal.” No doubt, the meek shall eventually inherit the Earth but, in the meantime, it is the duty of the strong to fight for the weak, the powerless and the voiceless. Now is the time to speak up and speak out, now is the time to get up and stand up for our rights. To all of the creative, thoughtful and passionate bloggers I have met this year, I tip my pen (keyboard) to you, it has been a pleasure and a privilege. To those I have yet to meet, here’s to waging peace together in the new year. Peace and solidarity to all readers.
Postscript: I’ve stated before that this blog is not only about sharing my voice but helping others to find the voices that may have been misplaced or set to the side in the day to day of making ends meet in a bug eat bug world. I’ve grown tired of the dominant culture getting to determine whose stories are told and which voices are heard. Every person counts and every voice is needed in the struggle. To this end, I’d like to extend an invitation to any readers who might be interested in participating in the Mic check guest blogger series, be it poetry, commentary or visual art with full credit given to the author/artist. If you’re interest is piqued, feel free to contact me and we’ll go from there.