Merrimack Valley People for Peace Serving the communities of the Merrimack Valley
Letters to the Editor: and a speech
Letters our members have written to newspapers are the individuals'
Dear Representative Mira and Senator Tarr:
After the hearing that took place July 18, 2017 in the Gardner Auditorium regarding the proposed legislation that would penalize supporters of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), I was convinced more than ever that this is the wrong way to go and should not be supported by the state. I mention two reasons out of many: (1) the bill would prevent Massachusetts from contracting with people or entities that supported a boycott of Israel in the past, (2) the bill is unconstitutional by interfering with the First Amendment right to boycott.
BDS is about Israelís denial of human rights for the Palestinians, people who have been denied access to their land, whose homes and olive groves have been demolished, who have been humiliated by a wall that makes it impossible for them to travel freely, who have been deprived from frequent power outages and lack of water. Apartheid, sanctioned by Israel, is what the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and in Gaza face every day.
Israel should acknowledge its use of apartheid; doing so, and helping the Palestinians live better lives would improve its relations with the world, erasing the stigma it now bears. The people of Israel, who themselves have suffered countless human rights abuses throughout history, deserve a better world opinion.
Barbara J Haack, West Newbury
Armistice Day 2016, Faneuil Hall, Boston
The depressing Trump election forced me to think about how it happened that so many people would vote against their best interests of peace, justice and equality for all. Instead, they embraced destructive fantasy shaped by the American Empire and maintained by endless war.
Empires and war, benefit the greedy, their political allies and the commercial media. Empires need support of their home population- the factory workers, the coal miners, plumbers, carpenters, the slaughter house workers. They are told they are special, part of an exceptional country that has a divine mission or manifest destiny to rule or at least exert a controlling influence over the world and its resources. This makes society think it OK for them to endure brutal back and spirit breaking work and this ethos encourages many of them to join professions of force - the agents of empires - the military. I was one of those agents in Vietnam.
Key to this process of spreading hyper nationalism is to present the "other" as a lesser human. This normalizes violence and war, through encouraging misogyny, and racism, homophobia, islamophobia, antisemitism, and, of course, the exploitation of the weak by the powerful, especially the poor and powerless, like our undocumented farm workers who feed us.
On this Armistice Day 2016, I want to acknowledge the discouraging political realities of today but also want to encourage us to transform these negatives into positive energy so we can push for change and not succumb to paralyzing anger.
Part of this transformation, according to a Tibetan Buddhist monk from the URI Center for Non-violence and Peace Studies where I volunteer, is compassion. That's the mantra for his public meditation sessions and that mantra is needed right now.
Let's have compassionate dialogue with our pro war politicians and civic leaders because we know they are missing a key element of quality human experience, their greed has replaced the life affirming qualities of empathy and compassion they were born with.
Let's have compassionate dialogue with the misguided voters who elected you know who. They are both oppressed by an ever diminishing standard of living yet complicit in keeping those in power who take away their sense of worth - and they are told to blame their misery on the less fortunate, the less powerful.
And finally, let's look in the mirror and be compassionate towards ourselves.
Understand our past bad choices, recognize and understand and try to remedy
our complicity with an oppressive system and work together on this Armistice
Day to change this world into a peaceful, just, sustainable and compassionate
Standing Rock Question
To The Lawrence Eagle Tribune November 1, 2016
Why has no one mentioned the background of the Dakota pipeline news?
The following excerpt presents the Native American Perspective found on the website Truthout.org.
"So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact the residents of Bismarck, North Dakota. When Bismarck's population -- which is over 90 percent white -- objected to the risks the pipeline posed to their drinking water, their concerns were accommodated, and the pipeline route was shifted into treaty lands. Please inform people of these facts, and remind them that our people are still struggling to survive the violence of colonization on many fronts. People should not simply engage with stories related to our struggles when they see a concrete connection to their own issues -- or a jumping off point to discuss their own issues. Our friends, a! llies and accomplices should be fighting alongside us because they value our humanity and right to live, in addition to whatever else they believe in."
Why is there no news
that the Bismarck, North Dakota population managed to have its water
protected but not the Native Americans?
Go to the NRC hearingTo the Newburyport Daily News June 19, 2016
As a citizen long concerned about the public health and safety hazards posed by the Seabrook nuclear power plant, I was appalled that the Daily News chose to publish an opinion piece written by a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, that promotes nuclear power while ignoring the hazards.
Next Tuesday the NRC will hold a public meeting in Hampton, NH when concerned citizens will be allowed to ask questions and raise concerns about the risks posed by the degradation of the concrete in the building containing the Seabrook nuclear reactor. The condition, known as ASR, is a plague of growing cracks that cannot be remedied. The NRC has already acknowledged that this concrete degradation is progressing at a rate faster than expected so that there is now "macro-cracking and building deformation."
As a former state representative for Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury, who fought to try protect the health and safety of people in the area and as someone with children and grand children living close to Seabrook, I am pleased that Rep. James Kelcourse and Senator Kathleen Ives O'Conner have called for the immediate shut down of the nuke.
For the sake of our children, I hope many concerned citizens will attend this important meeting with the NCR at the Best Western Inn 815 Lafayette Rd. Hampton, NH next Tuesday June 21st at 6:30 p.m.
Pipeline questions remain Unanswered
Lawrence Eagle Tribune, February 23, 2015
promoters played rough (Grayed areas were not printed in Eagle Tribune,
but were in the Andover Townsman)
Kinder Morgan people recognized Hattie Nestel and Marcia Gagliardi as having been effective opponents when the pipeline was going through their neighborhood, around Athol Massachusetts. The way this corporation meant to deal with opposition here was to use the local police to keep the two out of the building.
I have heard of injunctions and restraining orders to keep people out, but these were not used here. Only corporate power was used. They did not go before a judge ahead of time. This is in character with the vast expense of bringing many employees to present glossy displays that promote the pipeline. It is in character with the expensive advertisements on many media. Somehow it reminds me of another controversy, the Citizens United ruling that gives corporation's money freedom of speech. In this case, money gives a corporation freedom to suppress speech. It does not surprise me, but it scares me. Are they hiding the truth or taking advantage of us? We must be wary of corporate power. Our numbers can resist.
And isn't it a strange coincidence that our electric bills are doubling (mine tripled) at the same time the pipeline wants to go through? The line going through Andover is supposed to help generate electricity. I wonder if state regulators are being bought? Kinder Morgan says we will get cheaper gas if we build another pipeline. Wouldn't it be cheaper to improve existing pipelines?
I have other concerns, some already expressed by others. Do we actually need all the gas these lines would deliver? According to one of the handouts at an AVIS meeting in Andover, the pipeline is six times bigger than would serve New England's average needs for 2029. Kinder Morgan appears to be overbuilding the pipeline to provide transportation capacity for gas to be exported overseas, where prices are much higher than in this country. Also, why should we pipe "fracked" gas? Fracking is a polluter and adds to global warming. Solar panel roofs over our vast parking lots may meet our existing energy needs.
Your front page article showed that many local politicians and advocacy groups are already raising questions and opposition. I hope they question why police were used.
Quirk, Lawrence, MA
September 14, 2014, blog by Winslow Meyers (friend of Jane Cadarette)
The way the United States has chosen to approach the chaos of the Middle East has far more frightening implications than we think, especially in terms of the world our children will inherit. If we are honest about how our adversaries perceive us, we will have to admit that there is a grand cycle of violence and insult operating, in which we ourselves are implicated up to our necks.
If we are to have any chance of breaking this potentially endless cycle (our military bases in Saudi Arabia leading to 9-11; 9-11 leading to the second Gulf War, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib; the second Gulf War helping to create ISIS; ISIS beheading our journalists; President Obama suckered into reluctant bellicosity etc. etc. etc), we have to start by admitting our own role in itsomething extremely difficult for our culture, and therefore almost impossible for our political leaders.
Righteous wrath and the urge for revenge are terrible foundations for creative policy-making. They lead almost inevitably to doing stupid stuff. 50 years beyond the Cuban Missile Crisis and 70 years into the nuclear age, the time for stupidity in international strategy is over. It is not merely possible, it is just about inevitable that the cycle of violence between the West and the Middle East will eventually go nuclear if we keep on as we are. Building these weapons is now an open secret.
If we want our children to survive, the foundation for smart, realistic international relations in the nuclear world becomes the polar opposite of military force: the emphasis must shift to encouraging the positive, the relational, the building of trust and friendship, mutual compassion, understanding, and aid. Erik Erikson put it this way back in 1964, in an essay called The Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight:
Nations today are by definition units of different stages of political, technological and economic transformation . . . insofar as a nation thinks of itself as a collective individual, then, it may well learn to visualize its task as that of maintaining mutuality in international relations. For the only alternative to armed competition seems to be the effort to activate in the historical partner what will strengthen him in his historical development even as it strengthen the actor in his own developmenttoward a common future identity.
This constitutes Eriksons savvy modern restatement of the Golden Rule, a formulation that occurs, with some variation, in all the major religions, including Islam, where it goes: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.
Eriksons theme was the active, creative potential of mutualitybetween spouses, parents and children, doctors and patients, teachers and pupils, even between nations. Mutuality, Erikson asserted, is a relationship in which partners depend upon each other for the enhancement of their respective strengths. The curiosity of a student elicits from the teacher the skills for transmitting the excitement of learning in a way that benefits both teacher and student.
There is an urgent need to figure out how to apply this thinking to breaking the great cycle, to making it the foundation of foreign policynot merely as soft power, which is simply the flexibility we think is open to us when we possess an overwhelming excess of hard power, which we do. We possess sufficient hard power to destroy the world many times over. What is required for our survival is to use our immense resources to make things better where we can, giving extremists infinitely less reason to attack. Our bombs only create more fanatics bent upon crucifixion and beheadingan old, old story. Only we can create a new story, and if we do, the world will respond gratefully.
Today, the Golden
Rule has been perverted into the Iron Rule of vengefulness: if you do
harm unto me, I will do yet more harm to you. A wise teacher who lived
2000-odd years before nukes understood that those who live by the sword
will perish by it. We hear this when our Vice-President, a good man, asserts
that we will follow terrorists right to the gates of hell. If we do that,
we can be sure that the gates will open wide enough to swallow us right
along with the extremists.
Link to pdf copy of letter sent by Norh Shore Coalition for Peace to Sen. Elizabeth Warren re. her statements about funding Israeli defense. Sept. 11, 2014.