In the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” at the end of a filibuster, idealistic freshman US Sen. Jeff Smith (played by Jimmy Stewart) reminds us that the struggle is what counts.
“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for,” he says. Just before collapsing on the Senate Floor, he croaks out, “you fight for the lost causes even harder than the others – you even die for them.”
“Love thy neighbor” is the reason that Senator Smith gives for fighting for “lost causes.” Whether one believes in this Christian command or not, this idea is the best reason to fight.
Here in the US, we rarely even know our next-door neighbor, let alone our planetary neighbors who live across the globe. And we rarely care what happens to our neighbors. Fight for them? Sacrifice anything for them? Die for the lost cause of peace and social justice? These ideas seem unfamiliar and unrealistic in these times.
We have no leaders in this country who … well, we just don’t have any leaders in this country. No one in the establishment is telling us that this nation kills more people and uses more resources than any other. No one with any visibility speaks out about the need to to be responsible humans; to sacrifice some of our luxury in order to make the world a safer, more just place. The corporate mindset and megaphone silence anyone who stands up to it.
Any idea that any of us may have had about “sacrifice” flew out the window after 9/11 when we were told to “go shopping and travel.” Instead of pulling together with a common goal, we were told to look away, to go about our lives and tune out while the military-corporate empire machine continues to churn out blood and money.
Consumerism is our holy state religion and the mall is our Mecca. Everything will be OK as long as we are surrounded by material comforts, even if those comforts are purchased with debt and are making the banksters richer.
Even as we were waking up during the nightmare years of the Bush administration, many of us were lulled back into false-worship of the Empire because the new Emperor in Chief is seemingly more articulate and intelligent. “Hope and Change” were sold to us like “Minty Fresh,” or “New and Improved,” even though the product is the exact same thing in a redesigned package.
So, after a year of the new regime, nothing, I repeat, nothing, has changed for the better in this nation. Even as the economy collapses, the wars continue and people are being killed the same as before. The death toll in Afghanistan was greater in 2009 than any other year when Bush was president. The only difference is that when Bush was president, we had an antiwar movement.
We need an infusion of real hope that can bring relevant, substantial change. We must quit looking to politicians for hope. Hope can only come from our communities and ourselves.
We sparked hope in the summer of 2005, when the antiwar movement was reignited during our protests at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. I am once again uprooting my own life to move to the heart of this Empire to start a Peace Camp on the lawn of the Washington Monument.
This camp will be called Camp OUT NOW and it will be the home base from which Peace of the Action will launch daily acts of civil resistance in different areas of DC. We will not stop until our demands are acknowledged and we see positive movement in a Peace direction.
Our demands are simple:
1) Troops out of the Middle East, which includes drones, permanent bases, contractors and torture/detention facilities.
2) Reparations for the peoples of these war-torn regions and a fully funded VA system to reintegrate our soldiers healthfully into our society.
One of the failures of the antiwar movement, besides misplacing energy to elect Democrats, is that our actions have been mostly symbolic. Symbolic actions are almost useless in the face of real and immensely destructive problems.
Is building a peace community in the heart of the Empire a “lost cause”? Is putting our bodies in harm’s way for the sake of global peace and justice a “lost cause”? If so, then it is worth fighting for with all of our hearts.
I am so optimistic for our chances for victory, and I hope each and every one of you will join us.
For more information visit www.PeaceoftheAction.org.