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New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Robert C. Koehler’

Beyond Redemptive Violence

April 20, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

It’s Time to Give Peace a Chance

by Robert C. Koehler

Sometimes our tame and compliant media upchucks a piece of truth. For instance:

“American officials had predicted that the missile strike would result in a major shift in Assad’s calculus, but the U.S. attack appeared to be symbolic in reality. Within 24 hours of the strike, monitoring groups reported that warplanes were again taking off from the bombed Shayrat air base, this time to attack Islamic State positions.”

This paragraph in a Washington Post story refers, of course, to the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles Donald Tr$mp earned such plaudits for launching against Syria on April 7. Suddenly he was our commander in chief, waging war — or, well . . . waging “symbolic reality,” whatever that means, at a cost (for the missiles) of maybe $83 million and change. (more…)

A Peace Journey

March 01, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Lessons from Costa Rica

by Robert C. Koehler

“This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Dwight Eisenhower gave the world some extraordinary rhetoric — indeed, his words have the sting of ironic shrapnel, considering how little they have influenced the direction of the country and the world in the last six decades.

“These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953,” he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors nearly 64 years ago. “This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: Is there no other way the world may live?” (more…)

The Great American Awakening

February 16, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

The Moment Is Here…

by Robert C. Koehler

Old wounds break open. Deep, encrusted wrongs are suddenly visible. The streets flow with anger and solidarity. The past and the future meet.

The news is All Tr$mp, All the Time, but what’s really happening is only minimally about Donald Tr$mp, even though his outrageous actions and bizarre alliances are the trigger.

“As the nightmare reality of Donald Tr$mp sinks in, we need to put our resistance in a larger perspective,” Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman wrote recently, describing Tr$mp as “our imperial vulture come home to roost.”

The context in which most Tr$mpnews is delivered is minuscule: more or less beginning and ending with the man himself — his campaign, his businesses, his appointees, his ego, his endless scandals (“what did he know and when did he know it?”) — which maintains the news at the level of entertainment, and surrounds it with the fantasy context of a United States that used to be an open, fair and peace-loving democracy, respectful of all humanity. In other words, Tr$mp is the problem, and if he goes away, we can get back to what we used to be. (more…)

Pledging Resistance

December 23, 2016 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Ecology, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

With Allegiance to a Better World in the Making

by Robert C. Koehler

I pledge allegiance to . . . what?

The Electoral College, to no one’s serious surprise, voted Donald Tr$mp in as the nation’s 45th president, and the pot of outrage in the American spectator democracy begins to boil.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no — no to all his right-wing and idiotic cabinet and Team Tr$mp appointments, no to his conflicts of interest and serial tweets, no to his sexism, his reckless arrogance, his ego, his finger on the nuclear button.

The word of the day is resistance. For instance, Nancy Altman and Ira Lupu, writing at Huffington Post, point out that Tr$mp, though legally the new American president, lacks political legitimacy, thanks to widespread voter suppression, his huge loss in the popular vote and the anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College; and even more disturbingly, is a thin-skinned, dishonest, immature jerk, utterly lacking the moral authority a national leader must project. These are flaws that cannot be ignored.

“Other elected officials, the media, and the citizenry at large have no obligation to afford him the slightest political respect,” they write. “Rather, the next four years should be a time of resistance and outright obstructionism. Opponents of Tr$mp should be at least as aggressive in challenging the political legitimacy and moral authority of his presidency as Republicans were in disrespecting President Obama, whose political legitimacy and moral authority were beyond reproach.” (more…)

Rewriting the Human Story

September 01, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Robert C. Koehler

Oh sacred planet…

by Robert C. Koehler

The terror of climate crisis is a long time in the making. As I read about the mass mobilization forming around the upcoming U.N. climate change convention, which is likely to accomplish far too Earth_flaglittle — because what’s needed is change at the roots of civilization — I feel a desperate impatience, a tearing at my soul. What can I do that’s bigger than anger, bigger than a demand for governmental and corporate entities to make changes they are essentially incapable of making?

Maybe I can help rewrite the story of civilization, which means unwriting the present story. From the Dark Mountain Manifesto, for instance, here are two of the “eight principles of uncivilization”:

“We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilization: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature.’ These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths…. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.” (more…)

Wealth vs. Money

March 30, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Resisting the Forces of Privatization and Commodification

by Robert C. Koehler

“There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

Salk_Thank_YouThe words are those of Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, speaking to Edward R. Murrow in 1955, as quoted recently in an essay by Paul Buchheit. What was he thinking? Six decades later, the words have such a counter-resonance with prevailing thought. They exude an old-fashioned humility and innocence, like . . . striking it rich isn’t necessarily the ultimate point of life?

I read these words and sense so much spilled wisdom in them, so much wasted hope. The world we’ve created is governed these days by two unquestioned principles: commodify and dominate. And it’s chewing up the resources that used to belong to every occupant of the planet.

“Eighty people hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people, according to an analysis just released from Oxfam,” Mona Chalabi wrote in January at FiveThirtyEight.com. “The report from the global anti-poverty organization finds that since 2009, the wealth of those 80 richest has doubled in nominal terms — while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population has fallen.” (more…)

Inside Peace

February 26, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Robert C. Koehler

Film Festival Highlights Struggles, Possibilities for Prisoners

by Robert C. Koehler

As media ownership converges and technology “unites” us, the concept of national identity grows ever easier to exploit — and therefore, I fear, increasingly, and dangerously, simplistic.

POEfilmThis is the war on terror. This is the war on crime. They march on, despite the magnitude of their failures. They march on . . . because America is tough. America is exceptional.

If our news and mass-entertainment outlets valued complexity and expansion of the national IQ, we wouldn’t go to war. We’d be building our lives on the far side of fear and the far side of cynicism, which is the only place where peace is possible.

It’s not like we aren’t doing that anyway, to a certain extent. But it only becomes news when visionary journalists — peace journalists –declare that it is, which is why, every year for the last seven years now, I have written about and celebrated Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival, which showcases extraordinary films that step beyond the simplistic myth of good vs. evil, us vs. them.

This year the festival is scheduled for March 19-22 at the Chicago Cultural Center; as always, it’s free of charge. (more…)