by John Blumenstiel
Increasingly we hear the question: "Why is everything breaking down?" Whether we struggle to find a new primary care physician, are anguished when schools can't help our kids with learning difficulties or are frazzled when trying to commute on broken public transportation, we see the breakdowns all around us. Let's not forget deadly sewage and water systems (think Jackson, Mississippi, and Flint, Michigan) or toxic train crashes poisoning communities as just happened in East Palestine, Ohio.
Why is everything breaking down, indeed?
The common explanations range from an insufficient tax base, a regressive tax system, lax regulatory oversight, corrupt politicians, declining moral standards, or lack of public participation. All are elements of both the problems and solutions, but the tap root runs much deeper. Its genesis is an economic-political system driven by control and profits. These inevitably lead to both systemic violence domestically, as well as perpetual war globally.
Nonviolence is not just a romanticized dream, but rather a way of life that determined effort and commitment can achieve. Nonviolence depends on a two-pronged strategy: the anti-war prong and the pro-peace prong.
The anti-war prong: Presently, the anti-war movement has been minimized by hostile media and an active propaganda campaign against those who would challenge the ruling Republicrats. Blue and yellow flags flutter over new permits to drill ever more fossil fuels. The media asserts it is "unpatriotic" to limit our use of nuclear weapons or to criticize our breaking of long-standing treaties. In fact, Greens know that it is a matter of life and breath to, not just limit, but to ban nuclear weapons completely.
The Green Party is in a unique position to challenge the national leadership on its fundamentally deceptive warring ideologies. Greens understand that peace is not simply a lack of war.
The pro-peace prong: A stable, peaceful society depends on local institutions that foster a healthy, equitable community within an economic and political system that is organized to meet true human needs for all. These institutions include properly funded public education that commits to all students regardless of learning styles and abilities; a healthcare system that effectively addresses the healing of illness and injury as well as their prevention for all citizens; a food and nutrition system committed to health.
Failings of our public institutions abound in our media. For example, a recent Boston Globe article describes the crumbling public health system: Months-long waits accessing care leave patients sicker and in anguish.
While the public systems needed for a viable social order fail, the US government has committed $100 billion to the destruction of the Ukrainian people. (Yes, they call it the defense of "democracy", but that is a lie. There is a much darker side to this tragedy). It took no time to raise $100 Billion with the 100% compliance of the Democratic congressional delegation. The $100 billion provided to Ukraine to sustain the war, if dedicated instead to public health would have added 1,000,000 nurses (earning $100,000/year) or 2,000,000 home-care and nursing home workers (earning $50,000/year). The crumbling systems extend far beyond healthcare, as our mass media amply documents daily.
By advocating for connecting the anti-war and pro-peace prongs Greens can and must move the public to action. We must demonstrate to the general population that our failing domestic economy is directly linked to our increasingly costly and destructive foreign policy. A dollar spent on bombing is a dollar plus lost to peace.
Building peace and justice requires aggressive action opposing war supporters, with their delusional goals of global domination and profit maximization by means of war. It requires transferring those war dollars into meeting our domestic needs of building community institutions for our public's welfare.
The Green value of nonviolence, combining anti-war and pro-peace offers a way to meet in the middle where Peace and Justice can prevail. This is the basic principle of nonviolence that we must promote as broadly and creatively as we are able.