IF YOU’RE WAITING FOR SOMEONE IN POWER to do something useful about this mess, forget it. The axis of violence – Bin Laden, Sharon, and Bush – has turned this into a war of alternative terrors, the only certainty being that, by their bidding, somewhere, somehow, more innocent people will be killed or maimed. In this country, those of influence who should rebel against the madness are too cowardly, incompetent, or complicit to raise their voices. And even if they did, the media would pay them no mind, preferring instead the sociopathic festival of death and brutality in the name of nationhood and patriotism.
So it pretty much comes down to us. Just as in every great moment of moral crisis, the fatal flaw of power is to prefer position to principle and to assume that position is an outward and visible sign of inner, invisible grace. Just as in every great moment of moral crisis, it is left to the weak to speak the truth, the outsider to find resolution, and the unannointed to carry out responsibilities that our elected representatives swore to fulfill but have so carelessly jettisoned.
There is a great coalition of conscience waiting to be formed, but at the moment it consists of millions who, thanks to the effectiveness of government and media propaganda, have yet to realize that they are not alone. Once that discovery has been made – and oh how the apostles of violence seek to prevent it – then the way to sanity will start to open. If, say, those opposed to the present course represent just twenty percent of the country that’s bigger than any lobbying group in America. If that twenty percent were to demand a few basic policies such as Palestinian statehood, an end to the Iraqi embargo, and the commitment to non-violent resolution, the illusionary national unanimity – so heavily based merely on fear of offending or looking foolish – would start to unravel.
Any community could help to get this rolling by bringing together concerned citizens willing to stand with others and to say in a group what they have been reluctant to express singly. Religious leaders, writers, teachers, and others not a part of the machinery of power could play a major part as could those whose reputations are not dependent on the blessing of the political and media structure. What started as a few people setting an example could spread until it becomes a national and international movement.
There could also be a non-official initiative in the form of a national or global Internet petition to those in power to cease their earth-threatening behavior and to accept a few basic principles of decency.
And finally, there could be some symbol – perhaps a revival of the peace icon of the 60s – to make visible our rejection of the ways of our leaders and our commitment to an alternative.
There are, to be sure, a wealth of other tactics – demonstrations, boycotts, civil disobedience. But it seems that nothing could do more sooner than to find a number of ways in which those who do not wish to join the axis of violence can declare their rejection and know they are not alone.