Monday, August 20, 2012

Galloping Militarism, And What To Do About It: Kathy Kelly in #Maine

Anyone paying attention is likely to feel discouraged by evidence of galloping militarism. Whether it's prime time t.v. shows glorifying war, or the media circus whipping up sentiment against the next designated enemy, it comes at a time when social programs are being cut left and right as if this were an economic necessity. It is not, nor is hatred between humans of different cultures. What to do?

One thing you could do is hear international peace worker Kathy Kelly, in Maine for a series this week that starts in Portland on Monday, August 20 at the First Parish UU Church on Congress St., 6:30pm, and then travels to Bangor (Aug 21), Brunswick (Aug 22), Rockland (Aug 23), and Belfast (Aug 24).
Kelly is fresh from a visit to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, a groups she lives and works with in Kabul at regular intervals along with other members of the group she co-coordinates, Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She responds to U.S. militarism not only by writing, publishing, and meeting with other activists, but by traveling to be in solidarity with people threatened by the rampaging beast that is our foreign policy in the 21st century.

I became aware of this group originally not through Kelly's work but from an activist here in Maine who shared the blog Our Journey to Smile. A group of students from the Bamiyan area were living in Kabul mentored by a Malaysian medical doctor known as Hakim, and he was helping them find ways to get their stories out to an international audience. Their heartfelt desire to live in peace has now been expressed in videos, blog posts, and a series of 24+ hour conference calls with supporters around the globe. From the blog:
Their hope for ‘2 Million Friends’ is simple, that in place of the 2 million Afghan victims of war over the past 4 decades, they wish to find 2 million friends, as expressed in the video clip ‘Be One of 2 Million Friends’.  And so as not to lose any more human lives, they will be wishing for a multilateral ceasefire to end the war in Afghanistan.
"The Sky As It Falls," Kelly's article about their struggles and the community they have built, offers a peek into their world. Fear, laughter, poverty, volleyball, and the will to survive are all represented. It's uplifting to find that people bearing much heavier burdens than my own keep on keeping on, and I'm energized by their example.
Tom Sturtevant (center) at a Bring Our War $$ Home event in 2011.
Another thing sure to lift my spirits in the coming week: a protest at the Air Force Thunderbirds air show in Brunswick, where I once lived as student myself. Our state's Veterans For Peace chapters have organized a protest for Saturday morning, August 25 in memory of the late Tom Sturtevant, a veteran of Korea who worked tirelessly for decades in Maine to protect young people from the predations of military recruitment. CODEPINK Maine is proud to co-sponsor this event.

Two dedicated activists from the Union of Maine Visual Artists, Natasha Mayers and Nora Tryon, have produced this banner in which innocent children at play are transformed by drones and other high tech military aircraft into dead bodies. I'll be proud to stand with them to show children passing through the gate in the back seat of mom and dad's car that there are alternatives to militarism. Despite what your television and waves of proto-fascist advertising insist on telling you from the moment you are born into this troubled nation, war is not a family value.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

Wee Teck Young ("Hakim", meaning "judge" or in his case as a physician, I suppose, "wise one") is from Singapore. Perhaps, once you get used to being a citizen of a city-state, you like the idea of being a global citizen: the whole world is one big city.