Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dreams for Our Children

Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968, 40 years ago this coming year. As many have said, his dreams did not die in Memphis. I have a recurring dream of my own, that all children around the world will grow up to know each others as friends to meet, not enemies to fear. My dream is that all the money currently spent sending our sons and daughters off to fight the sons and daughters of other parents will instead be used to heal the planet and all of its inhabitants. When we come to see each other as one human family with a shared fate on our fragile, imperiled Earth, this will be the obvious choice. Until then, we've got some work to do!!

What are your dreams for your child, or for all children?

Dear President

Michael Franti asked fans to submit "Dear President" letters, to be read at his February, 2007 Presidents Day shows in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. 3 letters were chosen to be read at each of 3 shows. Mine was selected, so I read the letter below to a couple of thousand people at the Tahoe show.

Dear President Bush,

I just sang my precious Rosie to sleep. Hush little baby. Somewhere in Baghdad, a daddy is sobbing in the street, holding his heart in his hand. She was walking into school when the car exploded.

How many deaths will it take til you know that too many children have died?

I heard you on the radio the other day talking about creating a culture of life. Without a hint of irony. If Iraq is a culture of life in action, I’d hate to see what you mean by a culture of death.

When you were running for President you said your favorite philosopher was Jesus. Did you read where he said love your enemies? I don’t recall love being amended with bomb and torture.

Love is what we need, Mr. President.

How many enemies would we have if instead of spending $650 billion more on weapons and war, we spent that much to provide healthy food, clean water, medicine and health care to every member of the human family who is sick, suffering or in need?

How many enemies would we have then?

What if we really were promoting a culture of life as a superpower for the good of all, a superpower for peace, love and healing on the planet?

How many enemies would we have then? Would we need to study war anymore?

Love is what we need, Mr. President. Not invasions and occupations masquerading as liberation. Not new military bases in the sand and inflated defense contracts. Not fear stoked by phony code orange proclamations. Not wars against fictitious weapons of mass destruction masked by weapons of mass deception. Love is what we need.

Mr. President, as I lay my baby down to sleep, I prayed her soul be hers to keep, that no children should die from violence before they wake. I prayed that when this nightmare ends, she will see children in every country not as enemies but as friends.

Hush little babies, don’t say a word. Your families are going to leave you a better world.

And hush Mr. President, you’ve tipped the world over, but time is short for you and Karl Rover.

Do the right thing!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Caucus for Our Children

This piece was published today (Dec. 19) in the Iowa City Press Citizen, my hometown newspaper! Check out their endorsement of Barack too....

I returned to my home state of Iowa in 2003 to work on the Presidential campaign of a pro-peace candidate, hoping to help send a message to the country and the world that we the people didn’t support the tragic, unnecessary war against Iraq.

While that message was muddied by the fact that the 2004 caucus winners voted for the Iraq War, it was clear that most caucus-going Iowa Democrats strongly opposed the war even then. Two years later, the rest of the country caught up and booted war-backing incumbents from Congress.

During this caucus season, my life is a little bit different. Now, instead of finding precinct captains and staffing candidate debates, I’m searching for decent diapers and play dates for my daughter Rosie!

The birth and life of a child is a transformative experience, an indescribable joy. It is a feeling of deep love shared by parents everywhere, whether in California or Iowa, Iraq or Afghanistan. So when I read the news now, I imagine the horror and anguish as bombs, guns and explosives brutally kill and maim children and their families day after day.

During the height of the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his final book titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” It is a question as relevant today as it was then. Unless we change course, our children will inherit wars with no end in sight, buried in debt, imperiled by global climate change and a tattered social safety net.

We will only change our priorities and direction as a country when citizens take the lead. The people demanded an end to slavery, that women be given the right to vote, civil rights for all and an end to the Vietnam War. Still, it matters who occupies the Oval Office. When millions of people around the world took to the streets to oppose the Iraq war before it started, it would have helped to have a President who listened to what the people were saying.

I relish the idea of Rosie growing up with a woman President. What an empowering example for a little girl. Yet it would be even more profound to have a President who best honors the wisdom and values of women. After all, one objective of the women’s movement has been to transform society by evolving from a system of dominance, violence, and war to one rooted in cooperation, dialogue, and peace-making.

Among the leading Democratic Presidential candidates, it is not the woman in the race who has best embodied those values. It is not Hillary Clinton who had the moral courage and sound judgment to oppose the Iraq War before it started. It is not Hillary Clinton who pledged to use diplomacy first by talking with all nations, friend and foe alike, including Iran. It is Senator Barack Obama.

After the death, destruction and division perpetrated by the Bush Administration and those who support their agenda, we urgently need a President capable of uniting Americans across the political spectrum to begin the process of restoration and renewal.

In a speech on his foreign policy, Senator Obama said, “I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America so that together we can do the hard work to seek a new dawn of peace and prosperity for our children, and for the children of the world.”

That gives this father hope and inspiration. Imagine the message you and other Iowans can send to the world on January 3rd by caucusing for a man of peace to replace the men of war, at last.