A violent culture is not the only one
Is our way of life invisibly violent?
Violence is this cultureís way. We have to face that,
despite the cultureís humane aspects. We share a culture with the U.S.ís
foes and their ways, even if armed-suicide is not our style. They have
challenged every President since Reagan.
A jet crashing into a building on purpose loaded with
petroleum is out of the ordinary and horrible, but we need to identify and
reject the dominant cultureís and governmentsí institutionalized
Since Reaganís inauguration, almost two million U.S.
citizens were needlessly killed by the car-oriented transportation system
in crashes and from toxic exhaust. Is this terrorist government-policy?
Road builders, car companies, airline/military corporations, and oil
companies usually get their way in our "democratic government,"
although AMTRAK has lost less
than a hundred people in accidents in its whole three-decade history.
We are in a trance as we deny daily death on the
highway. In both cases of hijacked jet or tumbling motor car, innocent
people are killed. Drivers of the U.S. and everywhere else speed by a
bloody crushed animal without knowing what kind it was. One million
animals per day are slaughtered on U.S. roads. Do we really abhor
violence? Most people in this country deny our violence in most forms,
whether in cancers assisted by industryís lobbying muscle, capital
punishment, or in our governmentís export of violence from its School of
the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Petroleum-derived food cutoff = holocaust
Future violence against us all is being sowed on an
unprecedented scale: When petroleum runs out, in our lifetimes, the food
production/supply system will collapse, especially in the U.S.
The violence to come, as people eat even each other due
to starvation, is avoidable to the extent we can quickly wean ourselves
off petroleum-oriented agriculture and long-distance food shipping
dependency. Local food is the only sustainable answer. Too bad the
governments and multinational corporations donít agree or care.
As long as people use or justify violence, more
violence is inevitable. The hijacked jetsí destruction wreaked upon the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 is part of a cycle the
U.S. generates, not only in its foreign policy but in domestic cultural
The U.S. suffered its biggest attack ever on its
financial establishment and government. The enemy would say civilians
killed were "collateral damage," as we refer to over 1.5 million
civilians killed by U.S. and allied bombs and sanctions in Iraq in the
past eleven years. The Sept. 11 attack guaranteed an uncreative response
led by our monumental military establishment, and there is more to come
because of the myopic view that so many U.S. citizens have over
state-sponsored violence. Political violence is this cultureís trap, but
some of us are trying to help us out of it.
Cultural bias of the blind
"We are the good guys." But
who are we? Are we still a nation, or do multinational corporations run
the industrialized world? The nation state may be obsolete, but
politically the U.S. government has enemies abroad as nations. Within a
nation, other nations are commonly referred to as dictatorial, violent, or
corrupt. Within every nation, however, the same standard of critical
observation is never employed about itself. This is accomplished through
overt censorship or a slick Madison Avenue-style avoidance of issues that
thwarts any admission of ongoing fault or failure.
U.S. citizens, who call themselves Americans despite
over a dozen other nationsí usage of the same name, have little idea of
how their nation is perceived by the rest of the world. Many educated
Americans of the U.S. do know the foreign policy history of their country,
but the truth is suppressed or glossed over:
The USA is the worldís top arms trafficker. U.S.
military spending dwarfs the next biggest countriesí expenditures
combined. As world travelers know, this is the most dangerous country to
walk around in public, and gun ownership is the highest in the world. Most
nations now hate our government for an additional reason, that of
flaunting global climate standards as we emit the most greenhouse gasesóa
form of violence pushed on the world.
Record of atrocity
Since the Vietnam War, most nationsí peoples have
hated the U.S. government and sometimes even innocent U.S. citizens. Most
of these nations have also noted bias toward Israel in its conflict with
its native Palestinians and with Arab neighbors.
The U.S. is almost universally seen as supremely
violent, starting with atomic bombs used on civilian targets in Japan. Our
genocide began centuries ago, against native Americansóour cultureís
inherent rip-off foundation. (Property was originally theft.) It was never
Perhaps five million Indochinese died as a result of
U.S. policies between the early 1960s and mid í70s. Days after the Sept.
11th attacks the internet was circulating estimates of U.S.-caused fatalities
in Nicaragua in the 1980s: between 13,000 and 30,000.
The hijackers of the four aircraft hitting New York,
Alexandria, VA and Pennsylvania could well have been relatives or friends
of people killed by U.S. made weapons or puppet regimes. Violent
governments all over the world are backed by the U.S., and they kill their
own people or neighboring peoples. People become desperate, but religious
fervor, whether for Islam or holy Dollar, makes people do risky and insane
things. Mahatma Gandhi would say of the Sept. 11th attack that it was an
example of violence that should have been avoided and should not be
mimicked by the injured nation.
Rats in a cage?
Gandhiís nonviolence may be a lot to ask for now, in
an environment of human overpopulation globally and in the U.S. If
violence is caused by overcrowding, as any scientist in the relevant
fields knows, then why do we augment our numbers endlessly? The
reproductive act feels good, but thatís only part of the mystery:
corporate and religious interests promote more people whether in birth
rate or Congressional quotas for cheap-wage workers flooding the U.S.
A culture that assures its own sustainability and that
of other nations and of the natural environment must renounce violence and
aggression as any kind of policy for foreign relations or administration
of justice. But the sources of violence must also be addressed, such as
petroleum addiction. When someone is attacked, defense is justified, by
any means necessary, but the line between that and imperialism (or other
form of oppression or violence) is not to be crossed if we are to have a
future in common.
The attacked World Trade Centerís twin towers were
called "Great monuments to American capitalism and our way of
life" by the Talk America (radio show) president, Mr. Lyle, on Sept.
11. Maybe he speaks for most mainstream U.S. citizens, but not people
globally. Peace and justice activists in the U.S. probably find his
attitude revealing and intolerantónot consistent with cultural change
toward sustainability. And, as we have seen, skyscrapers are not
necessarily sustainable. Violence is not sustainable either, but it may be
sustained until humanity destroys itself and the biosphere. This concern
has prompted creation of Culture Change magazine.
Consumers at the top of the worldís pyramid of
humanity need to get with a program of sharing, as individuals, neighbors,
as a nation, and as one of Earthís countless species. It canít be put
off, as we are already seeing the dire consequences as angry people strike
back at aggressive symbols of our materialist culture that may have
blindly offended their values. And then countless innocents pay.
The call today must be for peace and freedom. Spread