By Andrew Heaslet, Coordinator, Peace Economy Project
What do clocks, socks, and glocks have in common? Socks, underwear, oil in a car, batteries in your smoke detector, Mr. Rogers’s cardigan sweater, and the time on your clocks on the evening of March 7th – what do these all have in common? These are all things that need changing.
In terms of word association, we should add to that list: the military procurement process, the military budget, our policies towards foreign military assistance, our ramping up of the war in Afghanistan, and the clout that military contractors wield via K street lobbying in our nation’s capital. They, too, desperately need changing.
And pushing for such change is precisely what the Peace Economy Project strives to achieve. That’s why we’ve taken a role in planning and forming the upcoming national campaign that’s being called “Beyond War, A New Economy is Possible.”
In 1967, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, in a speech at the Riverside Church in the Upper West Side of New York city called for change; a change of our national policies towards the giant triplets of Poverty, Racism, and Militarism. In this address, he warned, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Juxtaposed with the location of King’s historic speech in which he publicly came out against the war in Vietnam, less than 10 miles away, is today’s most famously beleaguered street in America, Wall Street.
This campaign is calling attention to the fact that King’s message, unfulfilled for more than 40 years, is related to the debacle on Wall Street. Because we didn’t change.
There is an enormous, near unanimous public outcry about our financial system that makes a house of cards look up to code. We’re furious at the fact that one man was able to cheat away $50 Billion from so many. But let’s face it, when placed next to the $165 Billion price tag of this past year in Iraq, $50 Billion isn’t looking so bad. The current $700 Billion propping up of the banking system, is, well, just a hair more than we’ve spent on the Iraq War already ($600B+), and, depending on how you break it down, ($800 Billion to $1.4 Trillion) right on par with how much we spend on the military every year. And that needs to change.
If, over the decades since his speech, our nation had, instead of investing trillions and trillions of dollars into superfluous military programs and get-rich-quick banking schemes, we had followed Dr King’s admonition to declare “eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism,” one can only imagine the possibility of change we could have seen.
Despite the passage of time, Dr King’s message has not died. It is very much alive with the Peace Economy Project and with our roll in this national campaign. We’re calling for change. And at the tip of the spearhead of this call for change, is a call for a 25% reduction in total military spending. And from that point onward, we’ll be pushing for that long awaited realization of the change Dr King wanted us all to see. And by attending community events, donating to Justice and Peace Shares and the Peace Economy Project, by attending the upcoming statewide rally marking the 6th “Anniversary” of the war in Iraq in Columbia, MO on March 21st, or even going to New York City on April 4th, the 42nd anniversary of the good Doctor’s speech for the major rally of the Beyond War campaign, you’re doing the same thing you’re going to do tonight when you switch that clock and throw your socks and underwear in that laundry hamper… it’s all about change.