Monday, August 08, 2011

Keeping Some Perspective

As much as the VFP Convention made me realize how little my society has moved toward greater peace and justice, it also reminded me that I always have the option to resist. Resisting is a difficult and risky choice. That was no more evident than listening to S. Brian Wilson talk of resistance and seeing two prosthetic legs in place of the ones he lost blocking a nuclear weapons train in 1987. The namesake of my VFP chapter is Rachel Corrie, who lost her life at age 23 resisting dispossession in occupied Palestine. That is what I call resistance.

My own resistance has involved far less risk. Hell, most of the time it barely involves inconvenience. I was more willing to risk my life in complying with orders to fight in Vietnam than I have ever been in resisting America's economic and social injustice and inherent militarism. Like most Americans I have cooperated with the economic and social systems that create the injustice and war. For most of my life I believed that American would change and that the progress toward human dignity and security for all would come to pass.

Recent events convince me that I fooled myself, that I am a victim of the "Delusional Revolution" described by Robert Jensen, another convention speaker. Jensen described the three great revolutions in human history. The first was the agricultural revolution which created the hierarchical society that enabled some to dominate others. The second was the industrial revolution which exploited fossil fuels to create even greater concentration of power. And the third is the delusional revolution, the idea that we can continue to amass wealth based on a finite resource. Although I've long known that Earth's resources are limited, I've not really acted on that knowledge. I still drive a private vehicle. I continue to fly. I acquiesce to the power structure that profits from exploitation.

And all of this means that if my actions and beliefs have any meaning, I must refuse to cooperate with the system that is destroying this planet and the many species that live here. But here's the rub--my non-cooperation is only effective as part of a mass movement. My actions alone will change nothing. So that's why the convention, as frustrating as it seemed, reminds me that I am not alone, that many others share my beliefs. What we need now is to organize and act.

The several hundred VFP members who were in Portland this weekend are one of many core groups that can give meaning to our individual actions. I was especially pleased to see Iraq Veterans Against the War attending and participating in the convention; two IVAW members serve on the VFP national board. I take some comfort in knowing that another generation of veterans is speaking out.

A while back I read somewhere that activism is simply what one person can do and that success is not necessarily guaranteed, that the final outcome may be long in the future. But in the meantime, acting keeps hope alive. So that's what I'm doing--keeping hope alive.

That was worth a trip to Portland.



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