Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meeting People Needs

I have long understood that if you meet people needs you will experience church growth; Robert Schuller taught me that. Once again, I suggest that we the American people need to return to renewed diplomacy that seeks a peaceful and productive society for everyone. That includes moving away from simply self-positioning ourselves for our own global benefits as Americans. It also implies moving away from diplomatic and economic concepts that justify the legality of war.

Even The U.S. Army Marine Corp Counter-insurgency Field Manual understands this, and I quote: taking care of the needs of people is a tactic in fighting insurgents. This counterinsurgency doctrine proceeds from several paradoxes, one of which claims: “some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not shoot” (49). Dollars and ballots become the weapons of choice. The manual says that “a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope” are the best ways to combat insurgents.

General Petraeus reportedly is using a current new book titled Stones Into Schools to teach this concept to his troops in Afghanistan.“Taking care of the needs of people,” as the Marine Corp Manual describes it, is more than a “tactic in fighting insurgents.” It is the basic concept fundamental to global peace. As such, it is arbitrarily contrary to the current concept of “reasonable justification of war.” Meeting the people needs and recognizing the common good eliminates our needs for violence and the standing armies supported by a huge military-industrial complex supporting the current Pentagon.

Economic development, democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, all form sustainable peace principles that are most readily justified by reason and common sense. These are all capabilities that our military forces readily admit they cannot provide. It will be argued that the Military secures the conditions whereby we can work out diplomatic solutions. It can, however, also be argued that the Military creates more problems than it resolves, and that it only provides an economic security for a certain portion of our culture.

It can be further argued, with even better reasoning, that we need to prioritize both non-governmental organizations and inter-governmental organizations, to work on the ground in conflict situations to help initiate such principles. I would argue that had our diplomacy from World War One to the present treated “everyone” more fairly (rather than special interests), and had the focus been on economics, democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, we could have avoided much of the military conflict of the past sixty-five years.

As outlined in the Marine Manual, counterinsurgency understands the influence of nonmilitary leaders and of extra governmental leaders in conflict situations. Business people, religious leaders – including lay leaders – media people, and elders of families help the community interpret current events. These are often closest to the hearts and minds of the masses.

For the immediate, what would happen if our global inter-religious peacemaking groups did work on the ground with local people to teach conflict resolution, help organize groups to build a strong civil society, to work on issues of local economic development, and to create truth and reconciliation commissions. What if the current military would actually focus on Mortenson’s theme of Stones Into Schools, and begin educating third world children in all the ways of conflict resolution, local economic development, and human dignity?

I was appalled when I heard President Bush (43) disparage “nation building.” I noticed also that the majority of his photo ops offered a military setting. All he did was parade himself as a "military jock" and make our economic “Military machine” more profitable, yet I cannot overlook the military statements admitting peace is beyond the use of force.

I also remember hearing Osama bin ladin justify Islamic Jihad against the “invader” in protest against foreign troops on Islamic soil. That whole syndrome could have been initially avoided by utilizing “real peace-makers” rather than justifying military force on our part and parading it around the world.

NEVER has America attempted a Peace Department; it has always, rationalized the necessity of a standing army and sought peace through violence, insisting that when reconciliation is necessary, only the military can/will do it. History shows 65 years of military build-up since World War Two brought neither the desired world peace nor homeland security; rather it left a trail littered with casualties, debts, and broken relationships.

Now, we have powerful forces in our country holding a “vested economic interest” in continued military buildup and sales of armaments. Defense industries they are called, but such thinking must be exposed for what it really is: mythological and irrational thinking that although highly profitable is illegitimate and devastating to the cause of global peace, not to mention greedy. It did produce the greatest prosperity the U.S. has ever known, but it also contributed to third world impoverishment in several ways.

One of the founders of Hamas spoke of his early life when as a boy he wanted to be a surgeon. It was the 1960s but he was already a refugee, without dignity and without hope. There was no humiliating blockade then. Now he asks (following decades of imprisonment, killing, statelessness and impoverishment), “What peace can there be if there is no dignity first? And where does [human] dignity come from if not from justice?”

When I look at the people in our world today; I wonder, knowing my own impatience, were I in his place, and subjected to as much as he and many others are, would I also have become a terrorist demanding attention from overwhelming forces against which I was helpless to protest otherwise?

I would argue that if had we worked from a basis of peace-makings, rather than justifying (rationalizing) force as we have done, we would all be living in a far different world than what we currently do. We have created many of our own problems, while blaming everyone else

I for one no longer have money, time, nor energy to waste contributing to an American system that faithfully supports the existing power structures. I am totally dissatisfied with maintaining the status quo and leaving the rich and powerful with their political--economic--military agenda in tact while we remain their patriotic subjects. I love America, but the differences between America and Afghanistan are only relative; neither nation has pure motives, both are filled with greed and corruption, and like all nations, we want to be King of the Mountain.

I cannot really quarrel with Foreign Minister al-Zahar when he claims “History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.”

No telling how many others feel that same way; yet, I hear the Prophet Isaiah crying out for attention and asking: Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from our own flesh (Isaiah 58).

Our insistent irrationality recalls the words of the Wiseman of Ecclesiasstes: Madness is in their hearts while they live … How God must grieve.

From Warner’s World, I am

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