Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Drones & The Good? & Iran? & Obama!

I've hesitated to write about my own antipathy with respect to the U.S. use of Drones in attacking others for many weeks.

I'll let this report address some of the complexities & anxieties I feel:

The report entitled Living Under Drones calls into question the effectiveness of drone attacks as a weapon against terrorism in Pakistan, stating that it is overplayed by the US government.

It says: "The dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling 'targeted killings' of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false."


The "best available information", they say, is that between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September this year – of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children. The figures have been assembled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which estimated that a further 1,300 individuals were injured in drone strikes over that period. 

Here is the entire report, presented by Stanford University School of Law and New York University School of Law. The Table of Contents alone is worth noting - let alone significant sections that I have only briefly read. This should give us perspective & consideration for how and why "America" is perceived as it is in other regions of the world as not being a bringer of peace.

Certainly we have other options worth considering - especially in light of this evidence.

On the same day this report hits the press - Obama is in the U.N. stating:

"The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America... and there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice."

"But the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America," he continued. "They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens.

"(…) Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations," he said. "We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values."

I have deep angst about the logic of these claims.  I'm speaking personally here.  As long as we are "relentless in tracking down the killers" - while our own practices kill civilians - we have no moral high ground to stand upon.  When Obama says "this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations" - while freely using drone violence to kill  - I have a hard time discerning how the U.S. use of violence is ideologically different from the violence of the crowds in Benghazi - except technologically different - not ideologically different?  

I stated recently - that I think what Romney said in a speech is wrong.  I'll state here, that I think what Obama has stated is wrong. I have no high hopes for the claims of "either" "party" in these issues - nor of either candidate for the office of President.  The hopes of the Eupan Global Initiative are not invested in American Politics - nor in American ideology.

But - with all of my being - I hope, wish, want all persons - including Americans! -  to be mindful of the violence that is perpetuated, created, brought by American policy/action/decision.  Until we can own our own complicity in violence, we'll never be able to free ourselves from it - in working toward the ideals of the U.N. and the hope of all nations.

And, for the rising rhetoric - going on now for months "between" Israel and Iran.  I humbly & devoutly pray for peacemakers in politics to advocate for better options for all persons involved.  Now!

To anyone reading this.  Yes.  I am an idealist!  No, I am not advocating for some simple policy that solves all issues.  No, I do not pretend to have the answers to complex issues of violence.  And yet, I know this - we can do better.  We can be better.  We need to do better.

We need to celebrate, work for and advocate for peace.  

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Forgiveness Project

I love coming across a "new" (to me!) agency that is doing great work.

I love sharing the work of these agencies toward the possibilities for individual peace, healing & wholeness - for community, social, national and world peace-making.

The Forgiveness Project is about:

Awareness - - Education - - Transformation  --  Exploring the possibilities of forgiveness through real stories.

The Forgiveness Project uses the real stories of victims and perpetrators to explore concepts of forgiveness, and to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge.

Link to their "About Us" page.

Link to "Stories" they are collecting!

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.


Friday, September 21, 2012

150 Years later - slaves still need emancipation!

150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln announced the emancipation of slaves.

World-wide slavery still persists - in appalling numbers.

This link reviews some facts including:

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million people who are victims of forced labor worldwide. That’s a figure larger than the entire population of Florida.

Today, human trafficking affects people of every nationality, gender, religion, age and socio-economic class. It can occur in almost any industry, from manufacturing to agriculture, from health care to transportation, construction to the commercial sex trade.

And though people aren’t often literally bought and sold, they do not have freedom. They aren’t paid wages, they work in deplorable conditions and they are kept from leaving through the use or threat of physical and sexual violence (against them or family members), not to mention emotional coercion.

Let's work for a better world than this into 2013 - and beyond!

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nobel laureate Aung Suu Kyi & U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. Foreign Policy - in the nitty-gritty details of persons & powers & economics -  is intensely complex!

I don't pretend to have the answers!

We should celebrate the great things happening (even while troubling issues remain - and issues must be dealt with cautiously) for Myanmar/Burma, as the Nobel laureate, and indisputable leader from the Region - Aung Suu Kyi travels abroad, free, promoting peace.

Meanwhile, we must be mindful (on the heels of the movie mocking Muhammad continues to cause trouble) how each of us (and politicians with a public voice, in particular) - should not minimize or ostracize groups of people (especially from other cultures & places) -  with one-sided-exclusionary statements that make irrelevant the plight of people groups in various places in the world!

To speak in grand generalizations about large people groups with a broad-stroke is problematic - especially when it's not true!   When Mitt Romney says, "Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace’ - he is not just misinformed - he's wrong!

Palestinians for Peace & Democracy
Americans & Palestinians for Peace
Israelis & Palestinians for Peace
The Coalition for Peace & Justice in Palestine
Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
One Voice for Peace

And these are just a few of the links to real persons, in Palestine & Israel  - who want peace.  This doesn't include numerous other religious groups or persons - in the Region - and around the World!

We can empower more peace - and a better future - if we'll acknowledge and empower those persons working for peace!!

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Posted via email from Eupan Global Initiative

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Libya, Crowds, Violence & Love

We don’t get violence very well – in large part because we’re unwilling to think in advance of how to diffuse violence.

And, we all too easily become victims of our own ability to mirror violence – or create the mirror for others to perpetuate violence.

And, we always want to blame our violence on some other – someone else.  “They” – some other group or some other person – “they” are the ones responsible for violence. 

By our refusal to recognize our own tendencies to violence – and by blaming “the other” – we fail to recognize our own culpability in the systems and patterns of violence that continues to fuel violence.

I think a 1st Century Galilean peasant taught us something about crowds, culture and violence -  a man who became victim of violence in order to expose the violence of each one of us. 

Note this news from today – September 16, 2012.  It reads as follows, with lines I’ve underlined for my purpose here:

 UN ambassador says Libya attack was spontaneous   -By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press –
WASHINGTON (AP) — A deadly assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Sunday, even as Libya's president insisted the attackers spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date — the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Unnerved by the rapidly escalating raid on Tuesday that claimed the life of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the Obama administration last week launched an investigation into whether terrorist groups had exploited outrage over an anti-Muslim video to trigger an attack long in the works
But Ambassador Susan Rice said evidence gathered so far shows no indication of a premeditated or coordinated strike. She said the attack in Benghazi, powered by mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, appeared to be a copycat of demonstrations that had erupted hours earlier outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, spurred by a YouTube film attributed to a California man mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
"It seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons," Rice said, adding that such weaponry is easy to come by in post-revolutionary Libya.
Whether those extremists had ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups has yet to be determined, Rice said, noting that the FBI has yet to complete its investigation.
Rice's depiction of the chain of events contrasted with one offered by Libya's Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif, who said Sunday there was no doubt the perpetrators had predetermined the date of the attack.
"It was planned, definitely. It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago," el-Megarif said. "And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival."
Brushing aside el-Megarif's assessment, Rice said it wouldn't be the first time that Western works critical of Islam have triggered spontaneous unrest throughout the Middle East.

The article continues – but what I noted in it include the fact that each party is trying to find the “person” or “persons” to blame for the attack.  What one party claims was pre-meditated, the other party claims was “triggered” in a moment.  

What neither mentions is the fact that all violence is “copy-cat” violence – no matter how spontaneously or how planned the attack was.  The violence did not emerge for nothing nor from nothing!  The violence came in response to the kinds of violence that is repeated countless times the world over.  

Whether “planned” or “spontaneous” – the violence emerged from a culture of unrest – itself framed by deeply ingrained hostilities.  And the violence found an outlet in a moment – and it will always find an outlet – as we seek another person to blame for our violent tendencies – as we find the scapegoat for the crowd’s rage.

In response to the violence on this one day, persons are being questioned, interrogated and some will be prosecuted.  Perhaps some have already been “taken care of” by other groups of people, wanting to insure that their testimony will be silenced.  

Whether “spontaneous” or “planned” -  crowds gathered in Libya for violence.  

And crowds have gathered for scenes of violence in every age.   

A crowd gathered for violence the day a 1st Century Galilean was killed.  That Galilean challenged the violence of the crowd - by instilling hope in a group of followers who would retaliate with love.  That Galilean challenged the violence of the crowd, not by reciprocating the endless pattern of retaliatory violence, but by receiving the violence in order to expose victims of scapegoating tendencies.

We can hunt investigate, hunt down, and prosecute those who perpetuated violence in Libya the day U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and others died.  And, I hope there will be forms of accountable justice that emerge that might quell all forms of violence.

But will we change as the result of this day?

Only when we can admit that whenever we call for the death & annihilation of any person – we’re *all* - each & every one of us – part of a crowd gathered somewhere.

Planned – or spontaneous – the crowd acted in Libya.  And a crowed acted in Jerusalem many years ago – and the victim of their violence – that 1st Century Galilean peasant calls us to mirror love to our enemies so that the world can be transformed by a new Order.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Jewish New Year & Peacemaking

I am reminded by my Jewish friends & colleagues, that a New Year us upon us - Rosh Hashanah.

It seems to me that every person - in any religious tradition or no religious tradition - needs time to consider our own tendency toward evil - our greed, jealousy, & tendency to want to prevail over others.

We are all human.

We all struggle with our own selfishness & our own failings.

Even if we understand that we are called to be perfect - and even as we hope for making the world better, more peaceable & loving.  We all need to admit our failures - own them - and work for a better future!

For some of us - this new & better future comes with theological reflection & deep insight from the Holy -  as most religious traditions have core themes reflecting the need to seek forgiveness & reconciliation.  For others, this new & better future emerges with human will & decision derived from moral development tied to human evolution.

We can, though, create space for peace (an idea with a great book tied to it, by the way!)

Photo from:  http://www.createspaceforpeace.info/

As I read the words of Rabbi Howard Cooper (below) - I value his insight into the Jewish New Year as a time to reflect.  His words, I believe, give us each pause to reflect on what we can do to make the world a better place - by reflecting on our past year - as we  imagine & create with others - a better future.

Howard wrote:

As I move this evening into the New Year, 5773 in that ancient poetic tradition of the Jewish people, I think of the names this day of Rosh Hashanah has accrued to itself over the generations.

Yom Ha-Zikkaron – the Day of Remembering, the day we look back at the year now vanishing, moment by moment, along with our lives, and we recall what we have done and what we have failed to do, what has been significant and what has passed away apparently without trace – though do we not intuit that ‘significance’ is subjective, and deeply so, and that we may have no real perspective from which to view what has really mattered in all we have done, for good or ill.

Yom Teruah – the Day of Calling, the day we blow the shofar, eliding time, taking us back to mythic Sinai, taking us forward to the end of time when tradition says the shofar will again be heard - and we will finally be released from the burden and blessing of eternal Jewish hopefulness.

Yom Ha-Din – the Day of Judgement, about which no more need be said than Kafka’s unsurpassable words: ‘Only our concept of Time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgement by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session.’

May this be a year of peace.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Monday, September 10, 2012

11th Year Anniversary

The problem with anniversaries - is that we only really pause to remember something "one time" per year.

What is more, even this one day per year loses some urgency.  As the years pass, the 11th and 12th Anniversaries don't take on as much significance as the 10th Anniversary.  We let these middle anniversaries dwindle in time - until we get to the 20th or 25th or 30th anniversaries.

We're forgetful.

As we approach the 11th anniversary of September 11th, 2001.

11 years later.   

84,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan.    

On average, one U.S. soldier dies everyday.  A mother’s son, a father’s daughter, a sister, a brother, a mother, a father.   

Every. Single. Day.   Few Americans notice. 

Afghan losses are not reported. They, too – are mother, father, brother, sister.  

11 years later.   

My hope is that we’ll remember these who grieve, and work for a world characterized by peace for all nations and people groups - so that when the 20th or 25th Anniversary comes - we can take note of how the world has become better, more peaceful, more loving, more charitable, more kind - since September 11th, 2001.  Not only in America - but in the world.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.