This I Believe
I believe this essay will brand me a traitor. You see, I want world peace and this means a second American revolution. Paraphrasing Jefferson: whenever, through abuses and usurpations of power, a people is reduced to living under despotism it is their right -their duty to throw off such a government and to provide new guards for their future security. I want to move our once proud nation back in line with its core values of liberty, justice and equality for all.
First, we have to face our decades-long, downward spiral in the arena of human rights. From supporting the Muja Hadin against our “enemy”, the Soviet Union, to supporting Saddam Hussein against our “enemy”, Iran; from the School of the Americas to South-East Asia, our government has covertly promoted violence, insurrection, murder and the proliferation of real weapons of mass destruction. Since your tax dollars fund these atrocities, you are complicit in these crimes against humanity.
In a vulgar display of power, our elected officials actually debated whether or not to codify the use of torture. Anyone who values human rights will see just how warped this is. We’ve become the global equivalent of a school yard bully. Many people secretly admire Presidents Chávez and Ahmadinejad. I openly admire them, because they looked the bully straight in the eye and said, “Enough”. When will we have the courage to do the same?
World peace requires that parties come to the table as equals. This is impossible as long as one side believes itself superior to the other. We should be suspicious of Iran’s interest in nuclear power given their expressed goal of destroying Israel. Similarly, we should care if Venezuela disrupts the world energy economy. These are real security issues, which is why we should be respectfully inviting these countries to talk to us. Instead, we reflexively dismiss their leaders as crackpots and label them as our enemies. Just as a bully needs a target, the United States needs enemies. Without them our hegemonic juggernaut would grind to a halt and with it the American way of life.
What does this imply about our current American value system? Do we value cheap, destructive fossil fuels over world peace and human life? Is a growing economy worth more than a just society? Do we really care about anyone else?
As a college instructor, it’s my civic duty to cultivate activist students. My students will inherit the nightmare that previous generations have constructed for them. They’ll have to give up arrogant pride and entitlement in favor of humility, egalitarianism and ecological responsibility. It is they who’ll have to radically change their lifestyles if our world’s going to be around in a hundred years. They’ll have to apologize to the world and mend our diplomatic fences. The rest of us are obligated to pave the way.
If this essay airs, I’ll be labeled as “the enemy”. If patriotism and protecting real American values makes one an outlaw then the time for every one of us to to rebel is now, while we’re still free to do so.
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