Friday, 28 July 2017


     In its 300,000-year history, Homo the Sap, self-named Homo sapiens, has existed for a large part of it in self-made troubled times.  Quite understandable, as all of us are trapped in a world we do not understand.  The curious among us are making amazing progress but we have a very long way yet to go  Throughout my previous 174 blogs I have dwelt on this, based on what I have gleaned over my 98 tours around the Sun.
My own observations have been accompanied by the writings of thousands of curious, dedicated, and investigative minds.  As we are almost out of time to save ourselves from extinction, let me choose for this blog one of them that you may, and should, know:  In my large library I have Naomi Klein’s July 2017 book “No Is Not Enough”, as well as her earlier books “The Shock Doctrine” and “This Changes Everything”.  Also I have watched her numerous appearances on Amy Goodman’s PBS  “Democracy Now!” and interviews with such as the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party.  She is co-author of The Intercept, and a frequent contributor to many magazines.  Her books have been translated into over 30 languages.
      Before I go any further, I want to say that I admire you, Naomi, for leaving your comfortable Vancouver Island home to travel in December 2016 to the cold and snowy North Dakota to join the protectors at Standing Rock - a total of over 10,000 protectors that included members of other US and Canadian tribes and, heart warmingly, 2,000 US Veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq who had come to stand with the Sioux and to apologize for all the wrongs their country had done and is continuing to do to them.   This pipeline was originally designed to go under the city of Bismark but the residents objected, so the builders nibbled further on dwindling Sioux treaty lands to re-route it to go under Lake Oahe, the sole source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux.  The joyous feeling of success when Obama halted the digging, insisting on further study, was dashed when Trump nullified Obama’s efforts and the oil is now flowing.  Again, profits won over people.
But, Naomi, you do have itchy feet, chasing around the globe, interviewing and investigating. You have jogged my failing mind with so many well researched happenings, putting them all together in books, loaded with facts and figures I had lived through but have forgotten or dimly remember.           Gratifying, Naomi, is the fact that there is a growing number of individuals and organizations joining you in pushing us into a new world beyond war (and a so-named organization is thriving) into those broad sunlit uplands envisaged by Winston Churchill, by Buddha’s awareness, by the poets of WW1, and by so many troubled minds over the centuries.  
Can we ever achieve this without the leap you envisage?  We must get beyond Pax Romana, The League of Nations, The United Nations, to a mindset where the world has the will and ability to prevent atrocities, highlighted currently by the crimes in Syria and Yemen where those who suffer most had little to do with the violence.  
Naomi, your Shock Doctrine that, in many countries, produced oligarchies of billionaires exploiting the rest of us, also produced Donald Trump whom we must thank for giving you the incentive for your recent book and for uniting a host of organizations that have struggled with limited, and often short-lived success, but now are finally joining in persistent resistance.
Your so-typical example is that of the four arrested protestors, finding themselves in the same paddy wagon en route to jail, discovering that each belonged to an organization unknown to the other three, but all opposing the same political actions.     
I applaud your leading role in the two Toronto conferences that produced “The Leap Manifesto” - a call for Canada based on caring for the Earth and for Each Other.  It includes totally renewable energy, mass affordable transit, racial and gender equality, fewer work hours, respect for indigenous rights, innovative and democratic ownership. energy-efficient homes, localized and ecological agriculture, welcome for refugees and migrants, reduced military offensiveness, town hall meetings, education and justice reform. Numerous like-minded organizations have been quick to join your unifying call. 
Actually, Canada is a good place for starting foundations.  With a population that rose from 7 to 11 million between World Wars I and II and in which Canada punched well above its weight and did accomplish amazing infrastructure gains in a huge country. It has gone from a top belligerent to a top peacekeeper. For instance in WWI, of the top 45 air aces, 17 were German, 8 Canadian, 6 UK, 5 French.  In WII Canada trained 137,739 aircrew, provided a quarter of the D-Day invaders and got the furthest inland.  Yet, post war,  Canada led in peacekeeping roles, offering 5,000 troops to start a UN standing force that never materialized.  But Canada, now with 36 million, has slipped from first place to 67th as the UN now relies on poorly-paid-and-trained troops from poorer countries.  I also suspect that some Canadian generals prefer to hobnob with wealthy US generals rather than with generals from poorer countries that are much less influential.  But, much of this slippage can be blamed on oil and munition industries promoting turmoil, thus nullifying UN efforts. 
Naomi, your books give me ample statistics of the ill-gotten wealth of Trump and his associates, how brand names can reap fortunes without investments, how great wealth influences politicians, the media, and the common voter who believes those endless TV ads that insult true intelligence but watched by so many who lack the time or will to dig deeper. To return the US to democracy we must eliminate donated money to politicians and their parties.  I still get a daily dozen of repeated e-mail-donation-requests from politicians plus another lot of requests from worthy charities I much prefer to help.  The politicians ask for a mere $3 but, if you activate the donate button, you find that what they are asking for is a recurring monthly donation of $35 or more plus a tip.  
It is essential that electioneering be financed only by fixed grants to contesting parties paid for by taxation, permitting politicians to govern rather than spending half their salaried time fund raising.   The 2012 US election cost $6.3 billion, the 2016 one $6.5 billion.  In 2016 Hillary spent $768 million while Trump got away with $398 million due to the free time the media gave him as his antics were making profits for them. Bernie Sanders, who covered the most issues, raised a surprising $234 million from small donations.
Another huge waste of money, but also lives, is in the military reactions to reactions to initial aggressions, both real and inferred.  Our smart bombs and finely-tuned drones have killed more civilians than have our enemies that we created: Taliban, Al Qaida, and Daesh.  Death statistics may be highly inaccurate but the known numbers are frightening.  Between August 2014 and March 2017 the US admits causing 352 civilian deaths while the UK-based “Airwars” tabulates 3,100 and estimates thousands more from Russian air strikes.
These deaths, added to the immense destruction of homes, utilities, and infrastructure, provide huge recruitment incentives for never-ending bloody strife.  This only speeds the decline of the US Empire with so many other nations finding other associations including a world currency to supplant the US Dollar.
Awareness:  Has our media drowned us in so many dire warnings of imminent disasters, from global warming to a hunk of outer-space rock colliding with us, that millions in islands of prosperity around the globe have shut their ears and eyes to the woes of others?   
Several weeks ago I was alone in a booth at Village Inn when a young man approached me, surprising me with “Do you believe in God?”  I pushed my plate aside and asked him to sit down. For fifteen minutes we had a wide-ranging conversation.  He had returned from duty in Iraq, thoroughly disillusioned.  He had gone there to serve his country and to help the Iraqi people.  Instead he found his sole duty was to guard the oil with no regard or time to help the suffering people.  Losing faith in country and God, he told me his main goal in life was now to protect his two male friends and the woman he hoped to make his permanent girlfriend.  He returned to them in another booth at the opposite end of the room where they finished their meals, but before leaving all four came over to my booth to give me hugs.  Somehow, I had helped a troubled youth.
For a decade after the Cold War democracy had its best flourishing.  Over the past decade this has turned into a steady decline.  Freedom House (a think tank founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie) assessed 195 countries, finding 87 were free, 59 partly free, and 49 not free. Sadly, their 2017 report reveals civil-rights setbacks in 67 countries and gains in only 36.  Voters in free countries, impatient with the slow, bickering progress, have turned to strong autocratic leaders, a course that always proves disastrous.
We (Canada, UK, US, etc) impose sanctions on Russia and Iran when we should impose sanctions on ourselves for our crimes such as lack of concern for common people when we support, and sell arms to, oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia who is now in its 3rd year of using US aircraft and US/UK bombs for indiscriminate bombing of Yemen, a poor country where 20 million of its 28 million people need humanitarian aid.  This infrastructure destruction has caused, among other criminal woes, a massive cholera outbreak with, to date, 1,818 killed and 400,000 infected.   Meanwhile we excuse nuclear-armed Israel’s continued theft of Palestinian land and continuing its unbearable jail of 2 million in Gaza.  
So, Naomi. You are a big wave among many others that are forming the tsunamis necessary to sweep away from our beaches entrenched opposition, but, tsunamis can be destructive so this one also needs to be regulated. 
     It is a daunting, but essential, task.


1 comment:

  1. George, I don't think the answer lies in who we elect anymore. There is a seeping corruption that has wormed its way into our very souls. The danger is that in the loud screeching of those who seek to profit from others and the planet have distracted us from the ideals of nobility that once were the hallmark of the human condition. "What a piece of work is man?" Shakespeare could say. I couldn't say it now as I look around our political establishment, except perhaps to say that our president is indeed a piece of work. Sorry-couldn't resist. I think our future, if there is to be one for such a dangerous species as we have become, is the individual hand reaching out, as you did in that restaurant. I have learned from you. I watched how you deflect the harsh and judgemental observations of some people. I try that now myself, but I do it by asking innocent but pointed questions. People are willing to examine their own beliefs under non-threatening circumstance where they find it impossible to do under the harsh glare of prosecutorial inquisition. Thank you for your example, George. None of this is in vain. I even think Donald Trump plays his role by holding up a mirror to insanities in political life. I only hope there is a planet left by the time he has done his work in making the country cohesive again, if only to oppose him.