December 26th, 2017
“Men don’t need to show our manhood, we need to show our humanity” — James Boggs, 1990
Together We Make a Family
A disabled, biracial, (and totally normal) American family
With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life beloved communities.
This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June. Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?
These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
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Thinking for Ourselves
In Quest of Peace
For many of us this is the season to turn toward family and friends. It is a sacred time, calling for reflection and affirmation of our deepest longings for peace on earth. Rarely has such a hope been so far from our daily reality. We are living in a moment when relationships among people are marked with causal violence and intentional brutalities. Since 2001 we have been a people at war. It has been the backdrop of the lives of an entire generation who have never known a time without active US military interventions.
Recently, Nick Turse documented the increased use of Special Operation forces under the current administration. He notes, “On any given day, 8000 special operations from a command numbering roughly 70,000—are deployed in approximately 80 countries.” In 2017 troops were deployed “to 149 nations.”
The reach of these forces influences every part of our globe. As a report from TomDispatch explained, these troops are in “about 75% of the nations on the planet.” Under President Obama, and now Trump, this is an increase “of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House.”
General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), offered some chilling views on what this global reach means. He said, “We operate and fight in every corner of the world.” He went on, “Rather than a mere ‘break-glass-in-case-of-war’ force, we are now proactively engaged across the ‘battle space’ of the Geographic Combatant Commands… providing key integrating and enabling capabilities to support their campaigns and operations.”
Over the last two decades we have drifted from the doctrine introduced by George W. Bush of “preemptive war” to the acceptance of perpetual war. Anywhere we choose. We have become the most dangerous predator on the planet. We have allowed military solutions to become normal.
The idea that military force can create security is a false and deadly way to think. Rather, we need to acknowledge that we are a people without restraint, promoting violence and disruption across the globe.
Willful blindness to such violence corrodes our souls. Often carried out by bombs, drones, missiles and a few men and women, the use of massive force has become ordinary. We are barely stirred by even the dropping of the largest mega bomb on earth, the Mother of All Bombs. Talk of nuclear destruction is tossed out in tweets.
This is perhaps the gift that Trump has given us. He has made our hypocrisies transparent. While the United States has always depended on violence and destruction to secure its wealth, we have often hidden that ugliness behind aspirations of becoming something better. But in the age of Trump, we can no longer pretend. We see daily the cruelty and violence that support our ways of living.
We can no longer evade the reality of who we have become as a nation. Nor can we evade how much force and violence shape not only our relationships around the globe but our public spaces at home and our most intimate relationships.
As we turn to each other this season, the questions before us require the courage to re-imagine what it means to create peace in our lives and on the earth that sustains us. Finding our ways to peace and respectful relationships has never been more urgent.
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| Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214