Peace & Justice

...now browsing by category

 

Dick Bernard: The 98th Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day #62)

Friday, November 11th, 2016

November 11, 11 a.m., 2016

This is about Armistice Day, though my free cup of coffee today comes compliments of Veterans Day by virtue of U.S. Army duty 1962-63. I’ll wear my dog tags today, but mostly think about the Veterans for Peace Bell Ringing at 11 a.m. which I will have to miss for the first time in many years.

army-62-63-dog-tags-field-utensils-1962-63

Years ago my mother remembered the first Armistice Day from the perspective of a nine year old on the family farm about 5 miles “as the crow flies” from tiny Grand Rapids ND.

Mom’s sister, my Aunt Florence, “was born the year World War I ended [Nov. 3, 1918]. The hired girl and I were out in the snow chasing chickens into the coop so they wouldn’t freeze when there was a great long train whistle from the Grand Rapids railroad track. In the house there was a long, long telephone ringing to signify the end of World War I.”

WWI was a very nasty war, including for the U.S. which entered only for the final year. One of Grandpa’s hired men was killed in the War. The World War I flu, aka Spanish Flu, raged across the U.S. 1918-20. Mom and grandma got it, but everyone in the family survived…this was not always true.

WWI was supposed to be “the war to end all war”.

Of course, “the war to end all war” only spawned an even worse war, World War II.

I am moved to write about this today because recently I was helping my friend, Annelee, edit her third book. Annelee has written about growing up in Nazi Germany, and her third book, tentatively titled, “And That is That”, is intended to sum up her 90 years, the first 18 of these growing up in what was supposed to become the “1000 year Reich” of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.

For a few short years the Hitler experiment seemed to work, particularly for those who joined the Nazis (Whose ranks did not include Annelee’s parents). But dreams died hard.

In a draft of her chapter entitled “War”, Annelee wrote “I believed then that WWII would be the war that ended all wars.” She was born in 1926, and like every other German, suffered immensely the ultimate consequences of the Third Reich collapse which was obvious to all beginning in 1943.

Hitler’s avenging the humiliation of Germany at the end of WWI had failed.

We never seem to learn.

There have been numerous wars since WWII, of course, all of them justified by someone or other, none of them doing anything other than fueling the next war.

War is very good for business.

Now we are entering the era of “Make America Great Again”. “At whose expense?”, I wonder….

It was a good slogan, lots of sales of hats and stuff, but I doubt anyone has any idea what it will really mean, if anything.

These days there are almost no military people – maybe one in a hundred Americans actually go into the service. Cynically, maybe another bigger war will “Make America Great Again”?

As I end this piece, I’ll simply reprint something I did back in March about the human cost of war, just to America, through its involvement in Wars. And our human cost has been very low compared with other societies around the world.

Let’s make “Armistice Day” mean something more than a free cup of coffee for someone with a set of dog tags. Why not rename Veterans Day to Armistice Day, as it began. Veterans everywhere are honored on Armistice Day. And give peace a chance.

(click to enlarge)
Human Cost of War001

The history of American war as seen by the American Legion magazine May, 2015: America at War001. We are a nation addicted to war, I think.

Dick Bernard: Two Gentle Books for Peaceful People….

Friday, October 28th, 2016

The old ballad comes to mind as I begin this post: “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the Antelope play, where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

As this latest round of “daily dismal” – the 2016 election season – nears an end, I’d like to invite attention to some truly positive inspirational books about people like us; like the folks most of us are blessed with next door; the people we see at the grocery store, in church, out walking in the park….

The two books (click on the titles for more information about each):
“Green Card Youth Voices”. 29 Immigration Stories by young people at a Minneapolis High School
“A Peace of my Mind American Stories” 63 people, 40,000 miles across the USA

In my opinion, both books deserve and will receive national recognition.

Very briefly:
Green Card Youth Voices
It was a privilege to listen to three of the 29 authors of this book read from and discuss their experiences as Green Card Youth, immigrants to the United States. The three, pictured below 2nd, third and fifth from left, were Zaynab Abdi (pp 1-4) from Yemen; Fosiya Hussein (pp 113-115) from Somalia; and Wendy St. Felix (pp 109-111) from Haiti. (The other two in the photo, visitors at the talk: Lulu, a PhD student from Brazil; Shimri, a peace activist from Israel.)

October 20, 2016, Minneapolis MN

October 20, 2016, Minneapolis MN

It is very easy in these days to become terminally cynical about any hope for the future.

Kids like these (and there are lots of them) bring hope back.

Green Card Youth Voices is more than just pages and pictures. Each story includes a link to an on-line video interview with the author; and there is a Study Guide at the end of the book. So the book is not a destination, it is a beginning of a journey.

I highly recommend getting to know the organization, Green Card Voices. I had the very happy privilege of meeting the Executive Director of the organization, Tea Rozman-Clark, where her group was having one of its first programs, at Hosmer Library in South Minneapolis, in Nov. 2013.

A Peace of my Mind American Stories compiled by John Noltner.

american-stories001

I met John Noltner some years ago when he was beginning a photo journalism project, interviewing people engaged in peacemaking. His first book, A Peace of My Mind, and subsequent traveling photograph display which has been very well received around the United States led him to a 40,000 mile journey around the U.S., and lengthy interviews with 63 ordinary people about life’s stories and lessons.

September 27 I was privileged to be with a large group listening to John talk about his project.

Sitting nearby, it turned out, was the subject of one of the stories, Deanna Thompson (pp 44-45) a six year survivor of Stage Four Breast Cancer, teacher of religion at Hamline University, St. Paul, a positive example for us all.

Deanna Thompson (at right) Sep 27, 2016

Deanna Thompson (at right) Sep 27, 2016

Another story is Padre Johnson‘s, Cody WY (pp 86-87). The students above are holding Padre’s 1992 book, Journeys with the Global Family, recounting his time spent with people in 159 different countries in the 1970s. His is a remarkable story.

John Noltner’s trip to American Stories is described here, including link to a long interview in the Smithsonian on-line newsletter.

There you have it: two new books, 92 stories by and about ordinary people – people like us. These are ideal gifts for yourself, and others, at any time. Every story gives cause for reflection. Check them out. They’re an investment, not a cost.

IN MEMORIAM:

Connections may seem random. They really never are. Everything has a reason.

A year ago this week my friend, Lynn Elling, then 93, seemed more and more determined that there must be a meeting about peace at his favorite restaurant, Gandhi Mahal, in Minneapolis. I knew what he wanted, but precisely who and what was not clear this time. Finally, I went to his home, and eight of us met with him on Friday evening, Nov. 6 (photo at end of this post).

It was Lynn who had invited me to the initial event of Green Card Voices in Nov. 2, 2013. It was through Lynn that I had some time earlier met Padre Johnson.

Lynn’s resume for Peace is long and stellar. He could not, would not, “put his feet up”. He too-well remembered the carnage at Tarawa Beach as a young LST officer in WWII.

Sep. 21, he was at the Dedication of The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis as a Peace Site.

Our Nov. 6 meeting ended, and Cathy Manning took Lynn home.

The next day, Nov. 7, he was admitted to the hospital, and except for about two days near his death he didn’t come home again.

He died Feb. 14, 2016, at the doorstep of 94.

Lynn, there are others after you who carry on your work. Thanks for your efforts.

In peace.

Lynn (at right) at what turned out to be his final Friday night gathering at Gandhi Mahal restaurant.  The next day he went into the hospital, and except for three days in January, 2016, never returned home.

Lynn (at right) at what turned out to be his final Friday night gathering at Gandhi Mahal restaurant. The next day he went into the hospital, and except for three days in January, 2016, never returned home.

#1163 – Dick Bernard: 9-11-16, and the dark days of 2001-2009

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Friday, my wife and I and our 87 year old neighbor Don, went to the local theatre to be among the first to see the new movie, Sully, the incredible story of the emergency landing of an airliner in the Hudson River off NYC in January, 2009. “How can you take a 90 second event and turn it into a 90 minute movie?” my friend asked.

Very, very easily. Take in the film. The basic true story is here.

*

Of course (I’m certain), the movie was timed to be released on the eve of the 15th anniversary of 9-11-01, even though the near-disaster actually happened in January, 2009.

I have feelings about 9-11-01. At the end of this post, I share a few personal links from that period in time. I will always have doubts about certain and substantial parts of the official narrative about what happened that awful day, though that labels me as a “conspiracy theorist” I suppose. So be it.

*

But what occurs to me this day in 2016 came to mind a few days ago when I found a cardboard envelope in a box, whose contents included this certificate (8 1/2×11 in original size).

Notice the signature on the certificate (Donald Rumsfeld) and the date of the form printed in the lower left corner (July 1, 2001). (Click to enlarge).

cold-war-certificate-001

The full contents of the envelope can be viewed here: cold-war-cert-packet003

Of course, people like myself had no idea why the article appeared in the newspaper, or how this particular project came to be.

It is obvious from the documents themselves that the free certificate was publicized no later than sometime in 1999; and the certificate itself wasn’t mailed until some time in 2001 to my then mailing address…. The original website about the certificate seems no longer accessible, but there is a wikipedia entry about it.

When I revisited the envelope I remembered a working group of powerful people called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) formed in the late 1990s.

The group as then constituted no longer officially exists, but had (my opinion) huge influence on America’s disastrous response to 9-11-01 (which continues to this day).

Many members of this select group, including Donald Rumsfeld, and Richard B. Cheney, strategized to establish permanent U.S. dominance in the world, and had very high level positions in the administration of George W. Bush, 2001-2009. PNAC was no benign committee of friends meeting for coffee every Saturday. To cement the notion that to have peace you must be stronger than the enemy…there has to be an enemy. If not a hot war, then a cold war will have to do. Keep things unsettled and people will follow some dominant leader more easily.

Their Cold War ended in December, 1991, as you’ll note, which likely was cause for concern. 9-11-01 became the magic elixir for a permanent war with an enemy….

(I happen to be a long-time member of the American Legion also – the Cuban Missile Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam era were part of my tour of duty in the Army – and much more recently, the Legion magazine
updated talk about the Cold War, here: America at War001.)

My opinion: there remains a desperate and powerful need by powerful entities to sustain an enemy for the U.S. to fight against and, so goes the story, “win”, to borrow a phrase and “make America great again”. As we learned in the years after 9-11-01, dominance has a huge and unsustainable cost. But the idea still lives on.

The mood of the people of this country is for peace – it is simple common sense – but peacemakers have to do much more than simply demonstrate against war to have it come to pass, in a sustainable fashion.

*

Yes, 9-11-01 was very impactful for me. Here are three personal reflections: 1) chez-nous-wtc-2001002; 2) here; and 3) here: Post 9-11-01001.

I have never been comfortable with the official explanations about many aspects of 9-11-01 and what came after. It is not enough to be ridiculed into silence. Eight years ago my friend Dr. Michael Andregg spent a year doing what I consider a scholarly piece of work about some troubling aspects he saw with 9-11-01. You can watch it online in Rethinking 9-11 at the website, Ground Zero Minnesota. Dr. Andregg made this film for those who are open to critical thinking about an extremely important issue. I watched it again, online, in the last couple of days. It is about 54 minutes, and very well done. Take a look.

Let’s make 9-11-01 a day for peace, not for endless and never to be won war. Humanity deserves better.

(click to enlarge. Photos: Dick Bernard, late June, 1972)

World Trade Center Towers late June 1972, New York City

World Trade Center Towers late June 1972, New York City

Twin Towers from Statue of Liberty, late June, 1972.  (one tower was newly opened, the other nearly completed)

Twin Towers from Statue of Liberty, late June, 1972. (one tower was newly opened, the other nearly completed)

Here, thanks to a long ago handout at a workshop I took in the early 70s, is a more normal reaction sequence to a crisis. As you’ll note, it is useful to allow 9-11-01 to live on and on and on. It is not healthy.

(click to enlarge)

Handout from a circa 1972 workshop.

Handout from a circa 1972 workshop.

#1160 – Peter Barus on politics; plus, an opportunity to view the entire 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

NOTE from Dick Bernard: Peter commented after last weeks post on Swiftboating Hillary Clinton. His always perceptive remarks are below. He writes from Vermont. His previous posts can be found here.

In addition, recently I received the link to all of the plenary session talks at the outstanding 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis. The Forum was outstanding, and I was privileged to attend it. At minimum take a look. The Forum was especially great this year.

PETER BARUS:
In the political discourse effectiveness is measured against what we’re after in the first place. Are we seeking to support a candidate by defending their “narrative” (meaning, the carefully focus-grouped, workshopped and spin-doctored story saturating the corporate media channels)? That’s defending the story, not the candidate. Are we seeking to hold a candidate’s actions and words up to the light of proven fact? Usually we test for consistency of word and deed, and leave fact out of it. Are we hoping for some break in the timeworn, corrupt and entrenched “system” that might finally, for once in all of history, provide for an actual election that is actually free and fair? And results in the elevation of an incorruptible and honest leader? Well, we do almost universally profess to be in favor of exactly that.

The candidates know this terrain very, very well. Bernie Sanders (my Senator) knew from the start that he would fail to be nominated, much less elected: he knows how things are done in America. But it was a kind of reverse-Reagan action: he hoped to shift the center to make an election include values and voices that are always marginalized. Clinton is of course a master of the Way of Washington, and has achieved real and incontestable stature the old fashioned way: she is more “pragmatic” (ruthless and cunning) than all the other aspirants to the Oval Office dare to be. Saving only the Republican Nominee. As for that celebrated personality, his expertise is in fighting by his own rules: on his turf, with him as referee.

In a fight, the first thing is to choose the ground. The Republican did this years ago, and has owned it completely. We may think it is a stupid choice, an insane choice, an immoral choice; but it is the ground on which the candidate stands and hurls his challenges. And it is going to be very tricky for the Democrat to fight him on some other battlefield than the one where he is already fighting. Consider that to hold a debate, the venue will have to be TV, and that’s the ground the Republican has staked out. Clinton’s ground, of international relationships, deep personal understandings with and of world leaders in their political contexts, the management of continual wars around the globe, and the staunch backing of Wall Street – all that is already on TV, and out of her hands. Her ground is part of his ground. Welcome to my world. Said the spider to the fly.

The second thing in a fight is never box a boxer, or wrestle a wrestler. Somebody is going to have to fight a Reality TV host. On Reality TV. That’s two fundamental principles of warfare that he has, and she doesn’t, going in.

The real assets in this campaign are not the money, or the power-brokers, or the smoke-filled rooms. Not the people you insult, or those abandoned by the American Dream, or disparaged for loving Jesus, or too proud to take a government handout. No Minorities or Special Interests matter here. Nor the battle-scars of the top diplomatic office in the United States Government. And most certainly not your “gender”: Lucretia Borgia? Imelda Marcos? Maggie Thatcher for heaven’s sake? What’s sex got to do with it?

No, none of that. What really matters now is attention. Human attention, focused not on the candidate, but on that candidate’s pointing finger, moment by moment. What do they point at? Is it the moon? A reflection? Which candidate will garner the highest ratings while giving us the finger? We will hear all about the type of fake nails on hers, and the exceptional length and girth of his.

There is this funny thing about the human brain. What it perceives it also acts from. This happens before the intellect is engaged. All the intellect can do, after attention has been seized, is rationalize the accompanying behaviors. And there are two basic reactions to the Reality TV candidate’s performances: apathy or outrage. And both of these human responses stoke the fires of his campaign. Outrage for or against, it doesn’t matter at all, the campaign balloons. See, it’s not a “for or against” switch: it’s an On/Off switch. And the light goes on either way while we’re frantically fighting over who gets to flip the switch.

Meanwhile, one candidate trumpets ever more crazy bigotry and xenophobia, and outright lies about economics and his penis; and the other candidate, already trapped in the same discursive space with the opponent’s genital dimensions, sounds like a teacher from a junior high school civics class, going hoarse trying to yell above the noise of excited teenagers as the bell goes off. “DO. YOUR. HOMEWORK! THERE. WILL. BE. A. TEST!”

Whichever candidate’s chosen ground becomes the scene of the big showdown, the real issues will not get any airtime. Instead, one candidate will throw any reasonable discussion into chaos, and the other will flounder helplessly grasping at straws to regain some fraction of public attention. That fraction will hear defensiveness and righteous disdain. And that triumphant, derisive laughter. And the pundits will analyze each nuance of foreign policy, the cost of a wall on the Mexican border, and and whether Clinton killed Bin Laden to silence him about their relationship. But most of the viewers will have passed out by then, after the cathartic relief of seeing the Strict Father put the Nurturant Parent in her place.

Never mind that the former Secretary of State has conducted war after war in precisely that way, sowing chaos. With the Air Force, the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA, and organizations that fund aspiring dictators, like the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute. Pragmatic, utilitarian (non-partisan) tools of State. And her opponent has no experience whatsoever with actual invasions, airstrikes or drone-killings; he just uses metaphorical weapons, like the Big Lie, the verbal sucker-punch, the innuendo, the question-as-fact, the straw-man, the begged question, the categorical denial, the stonewall. And of course, mockery and derision. Tools of Reality TV.

It’s happening on TV. The President is elected on TV. We’re in the domain of attention, remember. In this campaign, a shooting war might get attention, except what’s new about a war? War is just background white-noise now, to most Americans. If it comes up at all it will be to blame the former Secretary for losing it. Whereas a good one-line chant like “lock ‘er up!” will cut to the bone.

But. There is hope. We are not just stimulus-response machines. Your attention please: it is your attention. You can direct it elsewhere. Your attention is yours alone to give. Don’t let them snatch it away. Make them work for it, at least. Take ownership of your attention. Talk with people who are like you, and not like you, face to face. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. We could, theoretically at least, elect a President in an election, and not Reality TV.

Then when those politicians point at something, you can tell whether that’s the moon they’re pointing at, or just the reflection in a mud-puddle.

COMMENTS:
from SAK, in England: Thanks Mr Bernard,
Mr Barus’ comments about choosing the ground for a fight brought to mind part of the reason the UK voted to leave the European Union. The nationalist far right politician Nigel Farage chose the ground to fight on, the same ground Mr Trump has chosen: immigration. The EU means free movement of EU citizens among the member states – it does not mean borders open to all & sundry as the poster Mr Farage hung on his bus seems to imply [hordes of apparent non-natives coming into somewhere]. Furthermore the UK is nowhere near “Breaking Point” as far as welcoming European citizens who wish to live and work there. It seems truth is the first casualty not only of war but of political campaigns as well.

POSTNOTE: Pertinent and timely: Today’s Just Above Sunset, “Under the Volcano

SECOND POSTNOTE, a column in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, the headline says it all: Threats replace political dialogue at State Fair. The exact same example the writer uses in her article was used by some guy I had never seen before out in small town North Dakota in March, 2014, commenting on Hillary Clinton outside a building. At that time, 2 1/2 years ago, Hillary Clinton had not been a politician since being appointed Secretary of State in 2009, and when she was a politician, she was simply one of 535 members of the United States Congress. Hatred without benefit of fact is still easily transmitted. The guy who accosted the woman in the op ed would have been a good candidate for the ruffians who enabled the Third Reich in the early days.

#1157 – Dick Bernard: Two Books Well Worth a Read: Shawn Otto’s “The War on Science”; and Lois Phillips Hudson’s “Unrestorable Habitat”

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Back in January a mysterious e-mail appeared in my in-box from someone named Cynthia. She had googled the name Lois Phillips Hudson to see if anything would come up, and found me. More on Mrs. Hudson’s book, “Unrestorable Habitat“, “below the fold”…

(click to enlarge photos)
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A few months later came an invitation to hear Shawn Lawrence Otto read from his new book, The War On Science.

I know of Shawn’s past work, always first rate, and I bought the book, and it made my summer vacation book list.

I read, and learned a great deal from, both books.

They are, on the one hand, very different; but on the other, very similar. One is by an old lady written when she was my age range. Mrs. Hudson, is a retired college professor, quite obviously grieving the loss of her daughter to illness. She writes about the deep conflict she sees between today’s natural world and technology, compared with her youthful days in the midst of the worst of the Great Depression and World War II which followed.

(The retired college professor died before she finished her book, so one has to speculate on what her ending would be, but that actually contributes to the richness of her passionate expression of feelings on her past and present, and our future.)

The other book is by an author who painstakingly and expertly documents not only the very real “war on science”, but on other areas susceptible to manipulation of public opinion. Shawn Otto expertly reviews the problem, and then devotes much of the meat of the book to ways towards solutions.

SHAWN OTTO’S “THE WAR ON SCIENCE”

I highly recommend “The War on Science” to anyone with even a tiny bit of interest in topics like science, marketing, politics, and the incessant manipulation of personal and public opinion (propaganda) in our own country. Get to know the name “Edward Bernays”…. He enters the story by name at page 257.

You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the book, which is a very interesting history of science and its not always consistent position of esteem in our society (thus “war”); in addition, The War on Science is an equally interesting history of propaganda as it has been used in America especially related to marketing of products and ideas going back as far as WWI.

There is so much interesting and well argued information in the book that I would do a disservice by simply doing a once over in a review.

You need to read the book.

Best to take a look yourself. There are many formal reviews of the book at Amazon.com. One of them is mine.

You will see the book is being very well received.

Personally, I found “The War On Science” to be unusual in a couple of respects:
1. It nicks most everyone, including scientists, who get complacent and think they have found and can sit righteously on their own truth, as they define the term “Truth”. The book is heavily footnoted: 59 pages of sources.
2. Most importantly, fully 87 pages of the book discuss ideas for how individuals and groups in our society can move toward solutions to what seem intractable problems.

The War On Science is an excellent basis for book club discussion, as is Lois Phillips Hudson’s Unrestorable Habitat (following). Give both a serious look.

Unrestorable Habitat001

LOIS PHILLIPS HUDSON AND UNRESTORABLE HABITAT (continued)
A few days ago I was at a nearby park, completing “The War on Science“.

This day my phone rang, and on the line was long-time friend Nancy, from Hibbing, calling to comment on Unrestorable Habitat which I had sent her some months earlier and she had set aside and was just getting around to reading.

She had set it aside, but was finding it to be a marvelous book, a strong compliment coming from a retired teacher of English.

Unrestorable Habitat is one elderly woman’s reflections about her life, a certain huge business in her hometown of Redmond WA, some local fish, the loss of ability to imagine, and really, about all of us, everywhere in the so-called “developed world”.

Hudson’s book centers on an issue much on her mind as she grew older: the conflict she saw between salmon and big business in her town with lots of looks back at remembered pieces of richness flowing from her own very real hardships as a farm daughter during the worst of the Great Depression in North Dakota, then in Washington state, and forward into WWII in Washington. (She graduated from Redmond WA high school in 1945.)

Hudson died before she completed her book, but there is far more than sufficient “meat on the bones” to be published exactly as left by her: her opinions about post-9-11-01 contemporary U.S. society.

*

Some years back, I had blogged several times about aspects of Hudson’s 1962 well known book, “Bones of Plenty“, written about the worst of the Great Depression in rural North Dakota, and that is what Cynthia Anthony found in her random internet search. Cynthia, this mystery lady from New York, had become archivist for Mrs. Hudson’s papers, and asked permission to link my posts, “numbers 490, 495, and 565, which reference Lois Phillips Hudson” to her Lois Phillips Hudson Project, a website dedicated to preserving Ms Hudson’s rich but now basically unknown legacy.

It was Nancy who had earlier called my attention to “Bones of Plenty“; and now I was the one who had called Nancy’s attention to “Unrestorable Habitat“.

(Nancy had Mrs. Hudson as a teacher at North Dakota State University 50 years ago, and had vivid memories of her. She was a great teacher, Nancy said. She mentioned one quote by Hudson – at page 24 – that particularly caught her attention: “As..the mother of two daughters and the daughter of a father who frequently assured me that the brightest woman could never be as bright as your average man….” Unrestorable Habitat is peppered with such reflections.)

Once into Unrestorable Habitat, she found the book very interesting and thought-provoking.

Unrestorable Habitat so caught my attention that I purchased and distributed 100 copies, starting about 100 days ago.

Nancy was one of the recipients.

Here is the letter I enclosed with each book: Unrestorable Habitat

*

Let me leave it at that. “Unrestorable Habitat” is worth your time, as is “The War On Science“. Each can encourage you to “Do Something”.

The two books complement each other.

I hope you “take the bait”.

August 21, 2016

August 21, 2016

POSTNOTE:
1. Some readers might say, about “The War on Science“, that I don’t know enough about science to learn.
Not at all true. In my own review of the book (it’s probably the 22nd or so, link above) I acknowledge that I had virtually no science education in the tiny schools I attended growing up. My opportunities to know science were basically ad hoc, like watching Sputnik blink in the North Dakota night sky in 1957, or getting the Salk Vaccine not too long before. “The War On Science” is more than just a primer, but written to an audience who knows nothing about science. It is a learning tool in itself.

2. In the solutions section of “The War on Science“, Shawn Otto has a section entitled “Battle Plan 1: Do Something” (p. 371).

In her own way, Mrs. Hudson in Unrestorable Habitat was (I think) trying to begin a conversation: where can or should the new ways fit with the old, and complement, rather than compete with, each other? She wrote at least some of her draft on a laptop in a coffee shop, so what some might perceive as a rant against technology, at least part of her text was simplified because of the very technology she railed against.

There is room for conversation. She was Doing Something.

Earlier today I was at Mass at Basilica of St. Mary, and afterwards noted again the three trash containers downstairs (photo above).

This experiment goes back a couple of years, when my friend Donna and her committee got a small grant to get recyclable containers for use in the coffee area. They were Doing Something.

The experiment has never worked as it was supposed to. If one looks in the bins, there are admixtures of items, despite the verbiage on the containers. One can say it failed.

But I don’t agree. Who knows, among the hundreds of us who visit that area each Sunday, there is someone who gets an idea for use back home, maybe if only in their own home? Great ideas start with experiments that seem to fail. But to start them, someone has to “Do Something”.

#1147 – Wendell R. Anderson, Minnesota Governor, World Citizen, Feb. 1, 1933 – July 17, 2016

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Today’s local news will be full of news about Wendell R. Anderson, Governor of Minnesota, 1971-78; Minnesota legislator from 1959 forward.

I will be hoping for mention of the Governors key role in Minnesota’s Declaration of World Citizenship, signed March 26, 1971, by Governor Anderson and the entire range of Minnesota’s political and civil leadership; followed in early 1972 by a 30 minute film, Man’s Next Giant Leap, which featured a great many prominent political and civic leaders of the day, including Governor Anderson, speaking publicly of achieving World Peace through World Law and Justice to the citizens of the state of Minnesota.

The film and Declaration feature a literal “Who’s Who” of Republican and DFL (Democrat) leaders of the time, as well as civic, education and religion leadership. Gov. Anderson was doubtless a key person in moving the bi-partisan initiative. Singer John Denver, who donated his time, is prominently featured in the film.

You can view the Minnesota Declaration of World Citizenship, and the 1972 film, Man’s Next Giant Leap, here.

If you’ve not heard of the film or the Declaration, you will be amazed at how a state’s political and civil celebrities could publicly come together around a common theme of World Peace through World Law during the most heated and polarized national time of the Vietnam War.

Gov. Anderson is at peace.

He made a big and very positive difference.

My thanks to him for his service to the people of Minnesota, particularly to the children, and to our future.

#1145 – Peter Barus: A Reflection following tragedies: I lost friends to violent murder last year…

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

PRENOTE: In the wake of Falcon Heights and Dallas last week, Peter sent the following reflections. We agreed I would post this on return from an out of town trip. Dick

*

Been a long time since. It’s always good to read your writings. Feel free to post this response. You have a way of inspiring people.

Here is all I really know, summed up by the late peace activist, A. J. Muste: There is no way to peace. Peace IS the way.

I lost friends to violent murder last year. No firearms were involved. A baseball bat and a sword and a can of gasoline were found to have been used in the killings.

My late friend happened to be the most highly trained martial artist I have ever known, and I know this because I helped to train him for 25 years. I would have said it was impossible for the person accused of this multiple torture-murder to get close enough to this man to hurt him, and certainly not without dying in the process. But he, or most likely they, got to the wife and child first. In the 19 hours that followed, duct-taped to a chair, in a final act of courage my friend got on the phone, and in a calm and matter-of-fact tone, gave his cleaning staff the day off. He saved their lives.

As to “Security”, the family lived within about half a mile of the Vice President of the United States, so among the first responders on the scene after the fire department were the Secret Service, the ATF, the FBI, and the D.C. Police. The big house and the exclusive neighborhood were as highly protected by high-tech systems and personnel as it is possible to be.

Now, to the point of this awful story: “security” is not merely a myth, not only a delusion. Actually it is a stupendous con.

It’s a goldmine. A product that exists only in the customer’s brain. This would qualify it as art, except its purpose is not expressive of the human spirit, it is insidiously detrimental. And I bet you have never heard of a starving Security Expert.

America is not hysterical. I don’t know any hysterical people. There is hysteria, though: it’s all happening on the corporate entertainment feed, which is committed to selling, selling and selling. They sell products, and they sell anything that enhances sales. The selling itself is a product they sell.

To boost sales, they sell fear. That sells a lot of drugs, alcohol, politicians and real estate. Ever notice how much cars look like those white-armored Star Wars robo-troops lately?

All of that sells wars. And the wars sell more weapons than ever. And now the weapons are coming home, along with the awful damage done to human beings. And who’d a thunkit, more fear.

All “security” is false security. Airport security is ineffective at providing safe travel. Its effectiveness in other areas leads one to think it has another purpose entirely from that which is foaming from the media feeds every day. And of course that would be the creation of – no. still more fear? Yes.

The function of police is law enforcement. Not “crime prevention”. They actually cannot do much (legally) before a crime is committed. If you know somebody intends to hurt you, the Police will tell you to call them if they do. If that person says they are going to hurt you, call the police, and they will arrest the perpetrator for the crime of “terroristic threats”. A different crime, but a committed one. See, they only are supposed to respond after the fact.

Like anybody, the police can commit a crime, and there is some doubt these days whether they are treated equally before the law – they need to be treated more equally, but instead the supposed danger they are in at work is invoked as extenuating circumstance, and a lot of them seem to be getting away with murder.

Police are seen in two completely different contexts, depending on where one lives, and one’s physical appearance. Human beings see other human beings through a lens of expectations born of mythology. And that mythology, again, comes from the corporate entertainment industry. Thus some people run to, and some run from the police, when bad things are happening; and both are entirely sensible in this behavior. It is reality in both cases. The same cops exist in two completely disparate worlds. That certainly complicates the conversation in the entertainment feeds, where more than one idea is way too many.

The hundreds (!) of mass shootings we hear about are far are more likely to be the result of badly managed prescription antidepressants than “Radicalization”, the utterly fictional infectious plague we are being sold nowadays. The drugs in the dead shooters are not mentioned, we’re told, out of respect for their privacy. Eventually the pharmacology does emerge, and from what I have read of those since Columbine, it seems almost every shooter was on something with a warning label about violence and suicide. Since research into this might impinge on profits in some quarters, don’t look for it on your “news” channel any time soon. But it well could be that the entire mass-shooting phenomenon could disappear overnight, if a relationship could be established between these savage acts of violence and the things we put in people’s brains to make them peaceful.

Getting rid of guns could only help; but I don’t think it would begin to address the root causes. While we’re waiting for some progress on that, we can attack the natural habitat of terror, though, that’s simple enough: better distribution of wealth, and a restoration (or maybe implementation for the first time ever) of electoral integrity for starters. And free public education, remember that? I got that. That’s how I learned to think this way.

Fear and violence form a cycle that goes around and around until some other influence or friction stops it. This means you have to stop being violent, and/or you have to stop being fearful, if you want to end the cycle. There are no guarantees in this life, but those are the access points, and they are both within reach of every person, because they arise with perception, and perception is language. Violence and fear are both interpretations of the world we think we see. They may be the life-blood of Capitalism, but I’m willing to take a chance on that…

It might help if we could apply something else when we get fearful. Respect might do. We have bears and packs of coy-dogs here in Vermont, so we are careful with the garbage and the bird feeders and so on. We’re not careful because we’re afraid of these creatures: if it were so, we would shoot every last one. But we recognize their part in life. We’re careful because we respect them. We respect fire, and weather events, and floods. We respect people who are not like us.

And by the way, woe betide the rookie officer who shoots a bear in a trailer park after somebody’s open garbage can! People around here really get upset about that.

Love

Peter

Part 2. Nobel Peace Prize Forum June 6-8, 2016: The Drowning Child and the Shoes…2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

Friday, June 17th, 2016

This years Nobel Peace Prize Forum focused on “Globalizing Compassion”, particularly children, and gave a very large role to the co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a native of India who passed over a career in engineering to invest his life work on issues relating to child trafficking. More about his Children’s Foundation is here.

Satyarthi is an immensely engaging and persuasive man. You can see and hear him speak at this years Nobel Peace Prize Conference at the weblink listed below.

(click to enlarge)

co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Kailash Satyarthi, June 7, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Kailash Satyarthi, June 7, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

Many of the talks at this years Forum are accessible online here. They are all worth your viewing time.

The brimming-with-information Program Booklet for the 2016 Forum can be read here: 2016 Nobel Forum001

My comments, Part One about the 2016 Forum is here.

Wednesday afternoon, June 8, the final day of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, we were on our final coffee break. One of my colleague participants asked me what I thought of this years Forum. I said I always like workshops like these, where I know hardly anyone, including the speakers. It never fails, I said, that I leave without some insights, useful to me.

The conference adjourned, and I went home exhausted.

There was a final program, a film, The Same Heart, in the evening that I almost decided to miss.

Along with perhaps 50-100 “remnants” (not unusual after long conferences), I was at the theatre, and it was during The Same Heart that I experienced one of those insights I’d mentioned a few hours earlier.

The film is about the realistic possibility of eliminating the worst poverty for perhaps a billion children world wide. The film opened with a camera focusing on what appears to be a lake, and then panning back to a narrow stream.

Peter Singer*, ethicist at Princeton University, posed a question to the viewers: suppose that you are standing on the banks of a brook, and you look across to the other side and see a toddler going in the water, almost certainly about to drown. You are the only adult. The brook is shallow, but entering the water will ruin your new shoes.

What would you do?

His basic point was that there are hundreds of millions, if not billions of such toddlers around the world today, in effect drowning in circumstances out of their control, and most of us in varying degrees of affluence are unwilling to sacrifice our personal pair of new shoes to help them out. The message has stuck with me since I watched the film last week. It will not soon go away.

What would, what will I do?

The other insight came in bits and pieces, but it came together during a session on Tuesday afternoon.

An official of UNICEF, Olav Kjorven, Director of Public Partnerships, was talking about a UNICEF “My World” survey, about the “World We Want”, where millions of people expressed their opinion about priorities for humanity.

Olav Kjorven, UNICEF

Olav Kjorven, UNICEF

Almost off-handedly he commented on the unlikely creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the UN at the beginning of the 21st Century, ending 2015. It seemed (my opinion) that a major reason these goals were adopted relatively easily was not so much because anyone thought they could be attained, but that they really were seen as a set of informal goals for the world which would not upset anyone’s “apple cart”, be stuck with commitments, and especially wouldn’t require much funding.

The MDGs have turned out to be much, much more substantive. “Grassroots” people have taken them seriously, and in a sense policy is being proposed and implemented from the bottom up, rather than imposed top down.

I was somewhat familiar with these goals. In 2005, I had attended a session on the Millennium Development Goals. One of the featured speakers was Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a powerful Twin Cities businesswoman who came out strongly about tackling child sex trafficking: her business, as we Minnesotans know, is the hospitality industry, worldwide. My notes about that meeting are here: MDG Workshop 2005001

Ms Carlson Nelson was part of a panel at this years Peace Prize Forum, and in her time period she said her insight moment came in 2004 from someone she said was “Amb. Miller” who heightened her awareness that her industry had a major problem with child sex trafficking. She took a very serious look at her own industries cause in the matter, and has taken action, and is still taking action, and most importantly has become a public witness for closer attention to justice in other areas as well.

She quite clearly became a behind the scenes leader in settling the Minnesota Orchestra lockout three years ago; most recently Mark Ritchie mentioned her as a very positive actor. The saying “don’t judge the book by its cover” comes to mind; or be careful about “painting with a broad brush”.

Progress is a process, often slow, but progress happens with effort.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson June 7, 2016

Marilyn Carlson Nelson June 7, 2016

At the same meeting in 2005 was my friend, Dr. Bharat Parekh, who decided to take on the problem of child malnutrition in his native India, implementing one of the MDG’s. Here is a talk given by Dr. Parekh in 2014, talking about the then-progress on his work towards a goal.

I don’t know what his aspirations were, but Dr. Parekh had a plan, and he worked it hard – I watched what he was doing as elements began to come together – to the extent that now he is a Board member of a major organization called Toddler Food Partners, and is making a big difference.

Back at the conference, Mr. Kjorven noted that at the end of the 15 year MDG period, the “World We Want” survey (previously mentioned) gave great grassroots impetus to the current UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I left the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum exhausted and, at the same time, renewed and refreshed.

People can and do make the crucial difference. They just need to believe their capacity to make that difference.

A WONDERFUL POSTSCRIPT: The final session of Wednesday afternoon was dryly described as “Closing Remarks” with a two line descriptor: “Nobel Peace Prize Forum Executive Director Gina Torry will close the final afternoon of the 2016 Forum.” This was a “don’t judge the book by its cover” descriptor, as the session began with a wonderful tribute to my deceased friend, and stalwart of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum from 1997 on, Lynn Elling, deceased Feb. 14, 2016. Featured was a video by public television made about 1993 which needs no elaboration. The segment concluded with a hashtag #peaceitforward…a wonderful tribute.

June 25: Recently the Aitkin Independent Age newspaper featured a long article about Lynn and his work in his lake country community. You can read it here: Big Sandy Lake and dad article

* * * * *

* I note that Dr. Singer’s views on certain issues have excited some controversy which is hi-lited on the internet. That is of no concern to me, here. We all have points of view. His drowning child and shoes image will always stick with me.

#1134 – Dick Bernard: Grandpa Bernard’s Can of Pebbles

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Now and again in our growing up years we made it up to Grafton ND to visit Grandma and Grandpa* Bernard, who lived in a tiny house at 738 Cooper Avenue.

Grandpa, 68 when I was born, and 85 when he died, was a most interesting character, starting life in Quebec on a farm, then an asbestos miner at Thetford Mines QC, thence a lumberjack, a carpenter, and finally chief engineer of the Flour Mill in Grafton (he came from a line of probably hundreds of years of millers in France and thence in Quebec. His brother, Joe, was chief miller in Grafton.)

This particular day, Grandpa was sitting on his accustomed perch on the front stoop, basically exactly as shown in the old photo:

(click to enlarge photos)

Henry and Josephine Bernard, 738 Cooper Ave, Grafton ND, ca early 1950s.

Henry and Josephine Bernard, 738 Cooper Ave, Grafton ND, ca early 1950s.

I don’t recall Grandma being there, but we kids were, and at some point Grandpa looked over his shoulder and saw a dog trotting down the sidewalk.

“See that dog?”, he said. Then he picked up his homemade slingshot, and fished a pebble out of the nearby can and made sure the dog saw it.

No word (nor bark) was spoken.

The dog kept coming till some invisible “do not cross” line; at that point, making a hard right, trotting across the street; hard left past Grandpa; and on about whatever business the dog was about that sunny day.

Grandpa loved dogs, best I know, but there was a time and a place for everything, and apparently this neighbor had to be reminded, now and again, of the rules of the road at Grandpa’s house.

The parties understood the rules….

There are endless Grandpa (and Grandma) lessons conveyed to us, as we all know, once past a certain age. Things we just soak up, without realizing it at the time.

Not all the stories were conveyed directly, or even intentionally. For instance, across the alley from the tiny house was the Walsh county yard where things like snowplows and other public machines were kept. And down the street was the Courthouse, and the local Jail….

And there was the annual event at the Courthouse where the last remaining veterans of the Spanish-American War had an annual remembrance of their fallen comrades. It was always impressive and Grandpa was always in it.

There was something else about Grandpa, which you can see in the picture.

He had one leg.

The other he had lost to diabetes in 1946. Since he was a veteran, that leg was amputated at the VA Hospital, in Fargo; as was the second, at the time he died in 1957.

He used to entertain we kids with the stub of the missing leg.

Over time, I’ve come to learn that he lived to entertain us because a government agency, the VA, had saved his life; and Social Security, enacted about the time he turned 65, was what they had for retirement. His source of livelihood, the Flour Mill, had gone out of business on short notice right before the stock market crash in 1929; and at almost exactly the same time, the bank with nearly all their savings, went under due to fraud.

Overnite they went from regular middle class to dependent on others. It was the year Dad graduated from high school, and, of course, his plans on going to the University of North Dakota were dashed.

Of course, if there’s a grandpa, there’s a grandma.

Just yesterday I came across an old photo of my other grandmother, Rosa (Berning) Busch, with the Ladies Aid of Berlin North Dakota in September, 1946 (See below). Grandma is the lady kneeling in the front row at the center of the photo.

There are lots and lots of Grandma stories, as well as Mrs. Busch stories, even to this day.

No extra stories to be conveyed here, but an encouragement to remember your own, about those who came before you.

And to emphasize what is no longer often seen as obvious: we like to think we are, as individuals, in charge of our own universe.

What our ancestors knew, imperfectly, was that we all do better when we all do better.

Berlin ND Ladies Club September 1946.  Rosa Berning Busch kneeling, second from right.

Berlin ND Ladies Club September 1946. Rosa Berning Busch kneeling, second from right.

* There exists, to my knowledge, a single film clip recording Grandpa Bernard and others “sidewalk superintending” in Grafton ND in 1949, when a crew was paving the Main Street. His moment of fame come at four minutes 15 second mark. You can view it here.

Of course, we all have two sets of grandparents, whether we got to know them or not. And there are all manner of other relationships which would take a long writing to describe in any detail…for each of us in our own lives.

In my own case, Grandpa Bernard died almost exactly on my 17th birthday, in 1957; Grandma Bernard died near my 23rd birthday, in 1963; Grandpa Busch died in 1967, less than two weeks after their 62nd wedding anniversary, coming up the stairs from the basement with some eggs for breakfast; Grandma Busch died in early August, 1972, at 88. Lore has it that she lingered on long enough so that her youngest son, my uncle Art, could make it from Chicago. He did, and she died very soon thereafter.

#1133 – Dick Bernard: A Presidential visit to Hiroshima. Now it’s up to us.

Monday, May 30th, 2016

The annual Memorial Day observance of Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 is today, 9:30-10:30, at the Vietnam Memorial on the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds, St. Paul. This is always a meaningful observance.

(click on photos to enlarge them)

Long family, 1943.  Francis at right.  The  Francis' story follows the Vigil photo, below.

Long family, 1943. Francis at right. The Francis’ story follows the Vigil photo, below.

(I submitted the following commentary to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 20, 2016)

The scheduled visit of President Obama to Hiroshima is a great many years late, but commendable, a positive move away from our enslavement to a nuclear system and, hopefully, away from the “war is the answer” response to most any international problem.

I was five when those bombs dropped on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, in August, 1945.

My mother’s brother, George, since 1943 a Lieutenant on the Destroyer Woodworth, was in the Pacific. The ship’s log records the boat as docking at Tokyo September 10, 1945.

After the bombs, Grandma Rosa Busch wrote her son a letter from the ND farm: “Hurrah, the old war is over!” August 9, George’s wife, Jean, wrote from near Grand Forks, “The news that excited everyone is Russia’s declaration of war on Japan. Surely Japan will crumble now under the combined pressure, new atomic bomb and repeated attacks.” Uncle George, in a letter written about the same day, concurred.

Hardly anyone, likely even new President Truman, knew what this atomic bomb thing was, except that it was something unlike anything before. Aunt Jean enclosed in her letter a newspaper clipping with an optimistic quote from the U.S. War Department: “A revolutionary weapon designed to change war as we know it, or which may even be the instrumentality to end all wars, was set off with an impact which signalized mans entrance into a new physical world.”

No one really knew what we had unleashed, except, as Grandma said in her letter, “the old war is over”.

War had been shown to be hell. 407,316 U. S. war dead.

People doubtless knew others – estimated 50,000,000 altogether – had died in World War II.

But that astronomically larger loss was different. All that mattered was our tribe.

We don’t have the luxury of ignorance, now, over 70 years into the nuclear age. We can assure our own destruction.

Latest estimates from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)) are that the U.S. has 7200 nuclear warheads, and we are about to expend billions of dollars to upgrade them? Why?

May 18, 2016, NTI sent a survey. Included in their e-mail was this brief statement, recommending “The Partnership“, by Philip Taubman. The book tells the story of five American Cold Warriors — George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, former Senator Sam Nunn, and Stanford physicist Sidney D. Drell–who stunned the world when they came together to announce their support for a world without nuclear weapons. The New York Times called the book “fascinating” and “haunting.” “

We face a simple choice: we can continue to relive and debate the nuclear war past, which ended in an instant in August, 1945, and base our policies and our endless arguments on the perceived need of nuclear retaliatory force.

Or we can show good example of another way, by ridding ourselves of the scourge of nuclear weaponry and other similar weapons of mass destruction.

The downing of the Egyptian plane over the Mediterranean May 19 may give us an opportunity. If it does turn out to have been a terrorist bomb planted somewhere on the planes last ill-fated days, what do we do to retaliate? Launch an atomic bomb? Against who?

Or do we come to our senses and figure out a new way to deal with threats of all kinds, some of which, like the atomic weapon, we created.

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima will shine a light on a new path. I am thankful for that.

Vigil, Minneapolis MN, May 27, 2016.  Photo by Hiroto

Vigil, Minneapolis MN, May 27, 2016. Photo by Hiroto

Monday, May 30: I watched the President at Hiroshima at 3:40 a.m. on Friday May 27, and was unable to attend the moving vigil in Minneapolis that evening (photo above).

The newspaper didn’t print my op ed, which is their right. My intent was and is to encourage civil conversation among unlike minds about the nuclear issue, and the destructive nature of war itself.

In my letter to the STrib I told only part of Grandma’s story. On July 2, 1944, the young GI in the picture at the beginning of this post (likely just home from Basic Training, before going to war), who lived perhaps three miles from their home, was a parishioner at the same country church in North Dakota, and was in school with her children, was killed in the Pacific: “Fri [Aug 18, 1944] we had a Memorial Mass for Francis Long killed July 2 on Saipan”, Grandma wrote to her son at sea.

Francis had left high school to go to war, not unusual in those days.

July 25, 1945, two weeks before the Bomb, Grandma noted in a letter to her son at sea, that her nephew, next farm over, Marine Captain August Berning, “had a bad battle [on Okinawa] got shot through his jacket”, though apparently not injured.

Everyone was on edge. World War II and death from war was not far away from her farm. It was not far away from anyone, anywhere.

My friend, Lynn Elling, missed President Obama’s speech last Friday: he died Feb. 14. I know what he would say to me and others. The phrase I most often heard from him was that we are at “an open moment in history” to achieve peace, and I agree with him.

Lynn visited the Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima the year it opened in 1954. His peace moment came early in his two years as a Naval officer in WWII when he saw Tarawa Beach a short time after the horrors there, Nov. 20-23, 1943: Lynn U.S. Navy001. I think he would have been pleased with both the presence of the President at the Memorial, and the tone of the proceedings May 27.

You build bridges by direct engagement, and in steps.

In our polarized U.S. we tend to build walls, choosing confrontation with or detachment from those with differing points of views. We cannot survive in our own personal or interest group silos, much less with bombs in silos everywhere.

We need to look forward, not look backward, or engage in theorizing (as, “the bombs saved 200,000 lives….”) or such.

Still, the Bomb did happen. We still possess thousands of warheads, for no good reason. This world will not survive with nuclear powers. It is our responsibility to change the course, the conversation, not those folks over 70 years ago.

The road to peace is through all of us, one act of peace at a time.

Watch closely, the evidence is there, that more and more of us are getting that message.

Here’s to positive engagement.

A directly related post from my friend, Peter Barus, yesterday, is here.

What has been the human cost of war for the United States? Back in March I put together a graphic which simply speaks about American deaths in war. You can see the single page here (click to enlarge). Of course, this barely scratches the surface, not including injuries, dislocation, and on and on, but gives an idea. War is not a video game.

Human Cost of War001

Convenor and Vietnam vet Barry Riesch  opens the 2016 Vets for Peace Remembrance for Memorial Day, 2016.   This years event lasted over an hour and attracted what appeared to be about 150 people.

Convenor and Vietnam vet Barry Riesch opens the 2016 Vets for Peace Remembrance for Memorial Day, 2016. This years event lasted over an hour and attracted what appeared to be about 150 people.

COMMENTS:
from Christine, sister-in-law of Francis (though he did not live long enough to attend her and his brothers wedding.) We were in Hawaii twice and each time visited Francis’ grave at the Punchbowl Cemetery [Honolulu]. It’s a beautiful well kept cemetery. Thanks for remembering.At the Memorial service in LaMoure they list all those who have died and read off the gold star mothers because Francis was so young when his mother died and Theresa the twin sister came to help raise the family they have also listed her as a gold star mother.

from long-time friend Annelee Woodstrom who lived under the Allied bombs in Germany at the end of WWII and has written about it. Annelee is 90 in September, and in the process of writing her third book. She speaks often to groups. I’m honored to know her and be a friend:

“Thanks for the moving memorial blog May 30th. I feel we need much more emphasis of Memorial Day—

I spoke at Oklee (MN), I always take the first call for me to speak for Memorial Day. This year I had four calls.

When the callers ask me what I charge for the Memorial Day Speech and say, “Nothing”, they always seem to be surprised.

Why would I charge to remember what our soldiers endured? My driver charges mileage, but that is his-her problem.

What disturbs me most almost every year is the absence of the young people. I know they graduated most likely the day before:

Before the [program] was almost done, I ask if I could speak again. I told them that this was NOT on the program, but it needed to be said:

I said that where ever I have spoken I notice the absence of young people.
I bring up the example that once I spoke in a metropolitan city — the band, matter of fact, many of the students, were present;

I commended the students for being present—the band director said that he threatened them to be there or they would not get a grade in music.

I told the listeners today (someone had mentioned my third book.) I said I have decided today that I would suggest for the schools to have graduation AFTER Memorial day —-I would ask the students and graduates to be present—after all, it is the soldiers that died made it possible for them to live in a democracy. They gave much more than a half a day, they gave their lives.

Let them think about that— the parents could also have an influence to get the young people there.

I got a standing ovation after that, would you believe it— Out of over 100 adults, only 2 11th grader’s were there— and they had been ask to sing.

QUESTION? WHEN WE ARE GONE, DO YOU THINK THE YOUNG PEOPLE WILL TAKE OVER AND CELEBRATE MEMORIAL DAY LIKE WE DID?”

from Mary: Always interesting that the human cost of war statistics count those who died…..let us also remember the impossible to count numbers of those who survive a death in any arena.

Response from Dick: A valid point, certainly. You’ll notice in the sheet the hi-lited section at the end of the sheet which attempts to cover all bases in a few words. I chose American death count for two reasons: 1) it is possible to get what seems to be reasonably consistent and reliable data; 2) the low number of American deaths in recent years, coupled by the tiny percentage of the population which actually serves in the military, makes it possible for us to become anesthesized to the true cost of war.

At today’s Vets for Peace observance (which I attend every year), there were a large number of individuals who remembered someone or other affected by their service to the nation. Easily the vast majority of those remembered came home in one piece, at least physically, but ultimately were brought down by causes such as suicide or addiction for which clear causality was what they experienced in war-time.

Perhaps fifteen minutes from the end of the observance three visitors approached me near where I was standing, and one of the women, in very broken English, seemed to be inquiring if it was okay to place their car in a nearby parking lot; the man apparently sensed my uncertainty with the language, and confirmed that was her question. They began talking with the older lady with them, and both their appearance, and their language quite certainly was Vietnamese.

I showed them the Veterans for Peace flag, and they looked more closely at it, and noted the website.

My guess is that most of the people in the group this day, including the organizer of the event, were Vietnam era veterans or their survivors. What a rich and meaningful conversation their could be if there was the time and the inclination to dialogue.

For years, now, there has been a “bottoms up” process of reconciliation going on – veterans returning to visit Vietnam, etc. My friend, Lynn Elling, and his wife, Donna, adopted a Vietnamese youngster, and Lynn and Tod went together to Vietnam in 2013.

There is progress. Political progress works best from the base up – politicians know this. Too bad more of us don’t realize the same.

from Lydia Howell: Thank you for trying to yet again reach out to the Strib—who, like all Corporate media, REFUSES to allow any anti-war voices. (I can’t remember the last time I saw an op-ed in a “major” newspaper or heard an anti-war voice included on tv/radio). Also: thanks for promoting VFP’s Memorial Day event. It seems to me that these “holidays”–today, Veterans’ Day & certainly the 4th of July—have all become times to CELEBRATE war, to use the war dead (at least the AMERICAN VETERAN war dead) to PROMOTE war. So, anything we can do as a “counter-weight” to the celebration is good.

Right now, I am reading a CRUCIAL book: WAR IS A LIE by David Swanson, who WAMM & VFP are bringing to speak SAT. JUNE 11, 6pm (includes potluck) at MACALESTER PLYMOUTH CHURCH, 1658 Lincoln Ave. Saint Paul. WAR IS A LIE exposes the long history of the American people being lied into war by their leaders—that’s right,. George W. Bush was NOT the first, by any measure. The book also exposes the pro-war arguments that are repeated endlessly & never challenged. Much food for thought & highly recommended. I hope to interview Swanson on my show FRI. JUNE 10 (9am) on KFAI Radio.

Chante Wolf May 30, 2016

Chante Wolf May 30, 2016

At Vets for Peace Memorial Day, St. Paul, May 30, 2016

At Vets for Peace Memorial Day, St. Paul, May 30, 2016