As founder and president of the board of directors, I want to clarify that Writing for Peace is a Not-for-Profit (501c3) entity and, as such, we do not endorse political candidates. Our goal is to encourage young writers to do their own research and empower them to make a difference in the causes that are important to them.
With that disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I write now as a citizen of these United States, exercising my First Amendment rights.
It cannot be denied that the United States I love, the nation in which I was born and raised, has an abhorrent history. Built upon a foundation of genocide and slavery, much of the folklore around “old glory” is thinly veiled propaganda. But, like mythologies over the eons, there are truths, and something to be learned of both the best and worst of human nature.
George Washington, who led the American resisters to victory, became known to the Native Americans as “Town Destroyer.” After decimating a village, his troops would skin the bodies of Iroquois from the hips down to make “leather stockings.”
Abraham Lincoln, one of my personal favorites (and I highly recommend George Saunder’s novel, Lincoln in the Bardo), ended the Civil War and emancipated the slaves. But he also ordered the largest mass execution, 38 Sioux men who had been accused of war crimes.
The United States has (and continues to) supported dictators, interfered with sovereign nations, and committed war crimes and, despite rhetoric to the contrary, capitalism is more often than not the driving force behind both foreign and domestic policies.
There have, of course, been historical high marks. The signing, on December 10th, 1948, of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showed aspirations of our highest selves. In retrospect, I have to wonder if witnessing the worst of humanity at the close of WWII and the knowledge that U.S. corporations were collaborating and profiting by German atrocities while our soldiers gave their lives fighting fascism, had reached something deep within each of us, our responsibility to our brothers and sisters. Whatever it was, our government has studiously avoided being held accountable for violations of that signed declaration (or the Geneva Conventions) ever since.
Still, we have made some progress. We’ve made advancements in Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Rights (among others). I’m sitting here trying to remember whether that has ever happened without a fight. Would I sound too cynical if I said that, unless the oligarchy also profits by those advancements, they won’t be given to us on a silver platter? No, when it comes to human rights, we have historically had to demand change.
We march, we protest, we write letters and create art and raise awareness so our numbers will continue to swell. And brave journalists are at the forefront of these battles, showing us body bags and civilian casualties, the dogs and billy clubs and lynchings. They show us Black Lives destroyed by police brutality, white supremacism once again empowered to raise its ugly entitled head, refugees at our borders and detained children, school shootings and N.R.A. funded representatives with their bulging pockets, floods and fires and an unprotected environment in decline, and perhaps worst of all, voter suppression.
Current events, and our checkered past, have shown us that we can’t count on our government to do the right thing. Change depends on you and me.
If there was ever a time to march or write for peace it is now. Join me in marching to your polling station, filling out your ballot, and signing your name. Vote. Alone we may be a single wavering candle, but together we are the sun, shining light on this administration’s lies and oppression.
And if you need help getting to the polls, contact me at my personal website. I’ll help you in whatever way I can. We’re in this together.
Now, back to our regular programming: Thank you for supporting Writing for Peace.
Carmel Mawle writes from the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and Max, a ten-pound border terrier mix who firmly believes he’s a mountain dog. You can find her blog at www.carmelmawle.com.
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