The most common excuse for avoiding the hard work of becoming a peacemaker is the belief that one person can’t make a difference. In response, I offer the words of columnist Molly Ivins: “What stuns me about contemporary politics is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitals. As an American at this time, you have more political power than 99 percent of all the people who have ever lived on Earth. Does the Bush administration care that 40 percent of Americans are opposed to this war and that almost all of us have doubts about it? Polls not only listen to public opinion, they usually overreact to it.” Here are 13 more suggestions to continue our efforts to wage peace one day at a time.
1. Contact your senators and representatives and ask them to initiate legislation that prohibits any officeholder, particularly the president, from profiting from defense or oil companies for 15 years after their term is complete.
2. Form a study group. Read Sandra Mackey’s The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein. Sacramento-Yolo Peace Action volunteers recommend Rogue State by William Blum and works by Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti.
3. Send a donation to Doctors Without Borders and earmark it for the Middle East. Visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org.
4. If war breaks out and causes oil prices to increase, the cost of a tank of gas for a Chevy Suburban could jump from $70 to $140. Let’s heal our gluttonous addiction to oil. Ride-share, bike or walk to work today.
5. Educate yourself about Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988), the “Muslim Gandhi.” He inspired a pacifist army, the 100,000-member Khudai Kidmatgars (Servants of God), to stand unarmed in the face of waves of gunfire from British troops. Before serving, these Islamic pacifists took the following oath: “I promise to refrain from violence and taking revenge. I promise to forgive those who oppress me or treat me with cruelty.” Read The Best Spiritual Writing 2001 for more.
6. According to an article by John Sugg of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing, George Bush went AWOL, and other war advocates including Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, chose not to risk their lives in military service. Let them know how you feel about their willingness to risk your life but not their own.
7. Take a Global Exchange tour to Afghanistan or send a donation to support someone else’s trip. Visit www.globalexchange.org for information.
8. Americans use 40 percent of the world’s resources. Make a list of the reasons why you have chosen the lifestyle you have and what you can do to change.
9. Pray unceasingly for peace.
10. A young monk asked a Zen master, “How can I ever get emancipated?” The master answered, “Who has ever put you in bondage?” To which vision of success are you in bondage? Is it worth war?
11. “Everything in life has a price, and our biggest mistakes are made when we don’t really ask the price before we make our choice,” wrote Ronald Reagan in a 1971 letter to his son. E-mail President Bush and remind him of Reagan’s advice.
12. Clip this column and send it to a friend or post it on a public bulletin board.