And necessary! This is the theme for the World Social Forum that I (and tens of thousands of people from all over the world) am attending in Caracas this week. I know the idea of a world where everyone lives in peace and with justice is very “subversive” but the theme is very close to my heart and soul.
We need a new world. This one is broken.
Before my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004, I never traveled much to speak of. I had gone to Israel and Mexico and that was about it. I had a barely used passport.
Since I began to speak out against the dishonesty and deception that led to this illegal and morally reprehensible occupation of Iraq, I have journeyed all over the United States and now am starting to fill my passport with stamps.
Our world is so beautiful and the people who inhabit it are, for the most part loving, and all they want is a good life for themselves and their children. They just want to feel safe and secure in their communities. They want to be warm and fed. They want clean drinking water and they want to dance and laugh when appropriate. They want to live long lives with their families and they want their children to bury them at the end of their time here. In short, the people of the world want what we Americans want.
It is our governments who want to demonize and marginalize other cultures, religions, races and ethnic groups. George Bush and his coldhearted cronies and his easily misled and willingly blind followers want to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here!” Who are these “thems” that we are fighting over there? Are they the babies lying in their cribs when a bomb (chemical or conventional) is dropped on their house? Is it the mother who has gone shopping for her family’s daily food who is killed by a car bomber who never even thought to commit such a heinous act until his country was occupied by a foreign invader? Is it the grandmas and grandpas who are too old, or too stubborn, to leave their lifelong homes when the coalition troops are illegally carpet bombing civilian centers?
We as citizens of the United States of America must stop allowing our leaders to give the orders to kill innocent people. I almost said: we must stop allowing our leaders to “kill” innocent people. But we all know the cowards don’t fight their own fantasy battles or send their own children to fight in the causes that they idiotically and diabolically iterate are “noble.” No, they order our children to go over and do their dishonest and destructive dirty work! Our soldiers are taught that “Hajis,” the brown skinned people of Iraq who clean their toilets, showers, and wash their clothes are less than people…which enables them to be killed more easily. The dehumanization of the Iraqi people is also dehumanizing our soldiers. Our children.
I got a hate email from a “patriotic American” once who told me that when we see the mothers and fathers of Iraq screaming because their babies have been killed, that they “are just acting for the cameras. They are animals who don’t care about their children because they know they can produce another.” This is the mentality of General Sherman when he said “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” This wicked rhetoric is the rhetoric that dehumanizes us all.
A new world is necessary and it can only be possible if we believe and live the belief that every human being is inherently the same as we are. They feel pain when they are hurt. They have hunger pains when they haven’t eaten. Their mouths go dry when they are thirsty. They mourn when they experience a loss. They shiver when they are cold. They laugh when they are happy. How can we condone, or even allow, are leaders to kill our brothers and sisters like this?
A new world is necessary and it can only be possible if we rein in the depraved corporations that thrive off of the flesh and blood of our neighbors all over the world and here in America. War profiteers like Halliburton, Bechtel and General Electric who are racking up obscene profits and increasing the bottom line of their shareholders while they are running roughshod over this planet. Malevolent companies such as Dow who dump chemicals and other pollutants into the water and atmosphere that kill people, our environment and our future! Companies like Wal Mart that exploit workers in the U.S. and abroad to enrich a family that already has more than enough money to fund healthcare and a living wage for all of its employees and have a little extra left over to pay their country club fees.
A new world is necessary and it can only be possible if we decrease our dependency on oil and use some of the money that we are pouring into the desert sands and sewers of Iraq to expand research on renewable energy sources and expound and promote the renewable sources we already have such as bio-diesel. I have talked to many citizens of Venezuela who are understandably nervous about a U.S. invasion and they know that it is not about the idea that President Chavez is a “dictator” which he is not, he is a democratically elected leader who is very popular in his country. The people of Venezuela are very savvy and they know that if the U.S. invades their country that it won’t be because we are spreading “freedom and democracy” to them. They know they already have it.
A new world is necessary but not possible until we Americans get over the arrogant idea that we can solve the Iraq issue and the human rights violations problems alone. We have to reach out to fellow members of the human race all over the world to forge the bonds that are crucial to protecting innocent members of humankind who are impoverished or killed by our government and corporatism that has gone wild and is largely unchecked.
Peace and justice are intimately connected and the world can’t have one without the other. True and lasting peace can only occur when we the people force out leadership that is dependent on the war machine for their jobs and for their lives and demand justice for the crimes against humanity that are perpetrated on the world on a daily basis by such “leaders.”
A new world is possible and it is attainable. For this new world to become a reality it is necessary for us to take into our beings what Martin Luther King, Jr. said of his own eulogy, but more importantly, the way he lived his life:
“I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness.”
This piece is an excerpt from Cindy Sheehan’s forthcoming Open Media book, DEAR PRESIDENT BUSH, with an introduction by Howard Zinn, to be published by City Lights Books April 2006. For more information see: www.citylights.com