Act locally

The editorial spot in a local newspaper is an unusual spot to make sweeping pronouncements about world events. After all, who’s going to read it, a few people who will have little impact on global policy? This threatened war with Iraq, though, is the exception that proves the rule.

Are you, perhaps, waking up in the middle of the night with worries about what might be happening on the other side of the world? Perhaps your children are asking questions that you really don’t have answers to. Maybe your buddy from the reserves is suddenly scarce on Friday night.

These are the local effects of something many people think of as happening Back East, across the ocean, beyond our control. But that thinking is archaic.

That feeling of detached disenfranchisement plays perfectly for those powerful people who would like to act without concern for the thoughts of others. These are actors on the world stage, the politicians and corporations who’d prefer that people didn’t vote, critically watch the news or voice their opinions.

Last weekend, around the world, there were protests against an invasion of Iraq. More than 9 million people on the planet raised their voices in opposition to the war. The mainstream media, in all its omniscience, made comparisons to protests against the war in Vietnam. The problem is, as usual, the mainstream media have missed the point.

What the media and the politicians don’t realize is that there’s a different tenor to these protests. The differences aren’t even subtle. In the Vietnam era, young Americans were dying by the tens of thousands. Hardly a family was unscathed. In this war, all American soldiers are volunteers. Americans likely will not suffer seriously on an individual basis. There’s little chance of a draft reinstatement. Heck, a war, once launched, may even improve our personal financial pictures. Americans have little tangible to lose, and a lot to gain from this war. But people of conscience say personal gain is not reason enough for conflict.

Where were the throngs of anti-war protesters when Americans went to Kosovo, Afghanistan or the Philippines? True, there were some protesters of these actions—there will always be a certain brand of pacifist who believes any war is wrong, but the majority of this weekend’s pre-war protesters don’t seem to belong to that category.

Why are Americans turning out to protest this war before the first shot is fired?

These protesters aren’t protesting out of self-interest; they aren’t protesting on behalf of their conscripted brothers and sons; they aren’t protesting because they like Saddam Hussein. Some don’t believe what they are being told about our country’s reasons for war. The fact is, there are as many reasons expressed for protesting the war as there are people protesting the war.

Maybe, ironically, the protesters are the result of something our president’s father predicted back in 1991: a New World Order, a world where national responsibility and the needs of the entire planet are nearly as important as nationalism. Pay attention, people. There are no nonviolent births, and no babies whose fate is decided out of the womb.