Sunday, September 20, 2009
WORK on WHAT MOVES YOU By Sherwood Ross
Sherwood Ross: This highly effective reporter and media consultant claims surprisingly yet then again NOT so surprisingly that his favorite quotations are from the Sermon on The Mount.
Eid-Ul-Fitr - this year's festive breaking of Ramadan - is also the International Day of Peace United Nations - established in 1981 to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace.
So now I want to post (or write) a series of positive articles on ways which look like they have more chances than most of affecting how we in America might actually turn the tide. Some of these items might have seeds for true change in other places as well. Here's the first...
As more Americans realize they are not getting anywhere at the polls, they are considering other forms of protesting the warfare state. Here are some of them and some suggestions from the writer, who was involved in the civil rights movement in the Sixties.
Posting to Headlines Wire of Scoop
Column: Sherwood Ross
Date: Monday, 21 September 2009
Time: 1:37 pm NZT
What Can Individuals Do To Oppose Warfare State?
Americans who voted for peace last November but are getting only
more war are becoming increasingly disillusioned.
The majority of Americans, polls show, would slash the military
budget by over 30 percent yet President Obama has increased it
by four percent. A majority of Americans want U.S. troops out
of Iraq and Afghanistan but the Pentagon will garrison 50,000
in the former country indefinitely and dispatch perhaps 20,000
more shortly to escalate the war in the latter.
Since voting doesn’t bring the desired change in national policies,
people wonder what they can do individually. The answer is quite
a lot. “Things have gotten bad enough in the minds of enough
Americans that there is an opening for creating a mass movement
for real change, and that movement is already growing all around
us,” writes citizen/activist David Swanson of Charlottesville,
Va., in his new book “Daybreak”(Seven Stories Press). Swanson
is cofounder of the anti-war After Downing Street Coalition.
He ticks off a number of examples where grass-roots citizen groups
won a round vs. the Establishment:
# In North Dakota, farmers defeated efforts by St. Louis-based
Monsanto to sell genetically engineered seeds.
# Threatened by corporate big-box stores, Utah local businesses
created a successful “Buy Local First” campaign.
# Hundreds of towns and cities have enacted resolutions against
enforcement of unconstitutional provisions of the USA Patriot
# Chicagoans who had no good grocery stores banded together to
create an organic urban farm and sell produce through a local
# Recognizing that America’s Great Plains are the “Saudi
Arabia of wind power,” Rosebud Sioux are building windmills
on their South Dakota reservation.
# Americans have created some 300 worker-run businesses.
# More than 100 towns have stopped corporations from dumping
toxic sludge on farms.
# Residents of Tallulah, La., banded together to shut down an
unwanted juvenile prison.
Swanson writes, “We will not create the necessary rebirth of
American democracy by sending e-mails and making phone calls.
We must do those things (but they are not enough). We must educate.
We must create new media. We must lobby. We must march.”
“Unless we creatively and non-violently block the path the
empire is headed down and redirect the nation,” he continues,
“we will be increasingly ignored, repressed, manipulated, abused,
and disappeared for the remaining days of this once bright and
“What is needed in US civil society is a (non-violent) revolution…
No amount of violence or strategic placement of violence could
possibly create a more democratic republic. In our struggle for
peace and justice we must not only avoid violence, but reject
it so completely that no use of it can be plausibly attributed
to us,” Swanson writes.
If there is no peace group in your community, you can take the
lead and form one from among your friends and acquaintances or
members of your congregation. It’s up to you to speak out against
war and in behalf of peace before City Councils, church groups
and youth organizations. Try to relate not only the damage done
by war to innocent millions overseas but to the cost in your
own community in lost lives, lost taxes, lost business, and lost
opportunities. Point out how foreign boycotts are impacting sales
of American brand products around the world and contributing
to the recession and job losses here at home.
You can find a lot of “local” information on the web site
of the National Priorities Project of Northampton, Mass., which
shows the cost of aggressive wars by states. Feel free in your
literature to emphasize “America First!” The numbers of Americans
who are jobless, in poverty and without decent health care are
Distribute anti-war leaflets outside theatres showing war movies
to reach youth and at bingo games to reach seniors, emphasizing
in the latter case how the military siphons off their tax dollars.
Distribute articles to motorists in parking lots about how the
Middle East wars have increased gasoline prices to motorists.
Leaflets can also show how much war is costing each American
family and how it is starving large sectors of American economy
for capital, causing non-defense factories to close and limiting
Display Anti-war placards at major intersections where pedestrians
and motorists can see them.
Go door to door in neighborhoods with anti-war leaflets urging
families to pressure their teen-age children not to enlist. This
is particularly important in poor and minority neighborhoods
that have been targeted by Pentagon recruiters.
Organize a Peace Now motorcade and drive slowly through communities
& downtowns. Point out how taxes wasted in wars could finance
needed projects in your city or town.
Distribute non-violent leaflets with a photograph of the Rev.
Martin Luther King stressing his opposition to war and aggression.
Urge city councils to close down military facilities and convert
them to peaceful uses.
Urge the public schools to create courses on non-violence to
curb crime domestically as well as aggression against foreign
In his book, Swanson names a number of groups that are working
for non-violent change that you could contact. These include
“The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance,” “No
War, No Warming,” “Port Militarization Resistance” of Washington
State, and “The International Longshoreman’s and Warehouse
Workers’ Union” that “has shut down West Coast ports in
opposition to the occupation of Iraq.”
Swanson also urges joining and supporting groups such as his
own After Downing Street, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats
of America, the National Accountability Network, the Peace Team,
the World Can’t Wait, CODE PINK: Women for Peace, Veterans
for Peace, High Road for Human Rights, the American Freedom Campaign,
the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild,
and the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course, Quaker action
groups should be on everyone’s list.
“Work on what moves you, what would make a difference in your
life and your family’s life,” Swanson advises. “Mobilize
your community, your school, your clubs and organizations. I
can’t provide a complete list of useful organizations that
you might want to join to work for the cause of peace and justice,
but hundreds of good ones are listed at here
Sherwood Ross formerly worked in the civil rights movement and for daily newspapers and wire services. To support his Anti-War News Service or comment reach him at SherwoodRoss10@gmail.com
Sherwood Ross has worked as a publicist for Chicago; as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and workplace columnist for Reuters. He has also been a media consultant to colleges, law schools, labor unions, and to the editors of more than 100 national magazines. A civil rights activist, he was News Director for the National Urban League, a talk show host at WOL Radio, Washington, D.C., and holds an award for "best spot news coverage" for Chicago radio stations for civil rights reporting. He is the author "Gruening of Alaska,"(Best Books)and several plays about Japan during World War II, including "Baron Jiro," and "Yamamoto's Decision," read at the National Press Club, where he is a member. His favorite quotations are from the Sermon on The Mount.
ONE HEART BLOGGER COMMENTS: IF this man has been so highly effective in his work then for him to say "Work on what moves you" tells me that this might well be the best way to do peace as well as anything else. In addition, if Mr. Ross' favorite quotations are so sublime and concurrently practical, who am I to argue with his wisdom for us today?
Posted by CN at 11:04 PM