New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


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…)

Not in Charge

September 18, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Ecology

Film Review: This Changes Everything

by David Swanson

I thought the cause of climate destruction was political corruption, but I thought the cause of so little popular resistance was ignorance and denial. Naomi Klein’s new film This Changes Everything seems to assume that everyone is aware of the problem. The enemy that the film takes This_Changes_Everything_coveron is the belief that “human nature” is simply greedy and destructive and destined to behave in the way that Western culture behaves toward the natural world.

I think that is an increasingly common frame of mind among those paying attention. But if it ever becomes truly widespread, I expect it to be followed by epidemics of despair.

Of course, the idea that “human nature” destroys the earth is as ridiculous as the idea that “human nature” creates war, or the idea that human nature combined with climate change must produce war. Human societies are destroying the climate at vastly different rates, as are individuals within them. Which are we to suppose are “human nature” and which acting in violation of the same?

I think it’s safe to assume that those not recognizing the climate crisis are going to be brought to recognize it along an exponentially rising curve, and it’s possible that treating an audience as if they all already know the problem is a helpful way to get them there. (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…)

Voices of Pain and Peace

March 12, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Film Festival Highlights Anguish … and Hope

by Robert C. Koehler

No matter how bad it gets, we can look inside ourselves and find hope, possibility … the future. And when we find that, we know what it means to build peace.

“It’s like I’m in a never-ending battle with my brain,” Kayla said. “They called me Crazy Kayla. I have anger problems. Someone messes with me, I lose it. I was molested, raped, physically and mentally abused. I was in 127 different homes. I have a 3-month-old baby…”

Peace isn’t the avoidance of difficult topics but their thorough, unstinting examination, not with cynicism and despair but with the certainty that salvation is mixed into the pain. All we have to do is find it.

This is precisely what a good documentary film does for us, and there are so many of them out there these days. Thirty-one such films were showcased at Chicago’s sixth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival, an event I’ve been associated with since its beginning. The four-day festival, which was held March 6-9 (free of charge, as always) at the Chicago Cultural Center, takes on a mélange of provocative subjects: Fukushima, agribusiness, gun violence, forgiveness in the wake of violence, hospice care for prisoners, childhood mental illness, and much more. (more…)

Lessons from Tahrir

January 28, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Give Me Liberty…

by David Swanson

I still want Dirty Wars to win the Oscar, but The Square is a documentary worth serious discussion as we hit the three-year point since the famous occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo that overthrew Mubarak — in particular because a lot of people seem to get a lot of the lessons wrong.

I suppose some people will leave Dirty Wars imagining that we need clean wars, whatever those would be.  But too many people seem to be drawing from The Square lessons they brought with them to it, including these: Thou shalt have a leader; thou shalt work within a major political party; thou shalt have an identifiable group of individuals ready to take power.  I don’t think following these commandments would have easily changed the past three years in Egypt; I don’t think they’re where Egyptians should be heading; and I’m even more confident they’re blind alleys in the United States — where they serve as supposed remedies for the supposed failings of Occupy. (more…)

The Tragic Voice of Truth

November 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

Fukushima: Danger, Deception, and Betrayal

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Last month I watched a documentary on the March 11, 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The showing of the 2013 documentary, A2-B-C, took place in a cafeteria of Pomona College where students gather at tables and speak foreign languages. I am a guest at the Greek table.

The American producer, Ian Thomas Ash, introduced his film and answered questions. He is young and unusually virtuous and talented. He sees himself as a witness of a tragedy he has to report to the world.

He said he felt morally obliged to document the effects of the horrific nuclear accident. That is the reason he is not married and without children. For the duration of filming he lived in the contaminated Fukushima prefecture with the affected local people. He ate the food they ate and drank the same water. In addition, he speaks Japanese and has lived in Japan for several years. (more…)

An Ecological Jewel

September 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Guest Author, Politics

Oliver Stone Visits Jeju Island

by K. J. Noh

In 1986, a young American director burst out on the screens with a raw, charged, kinetic film.  Depicting a country on the verge of popular revolution, it documents the rightwing terror and massacres that are instigated, aided and abetted by the US government. Beginning as the chronicle of a gonzo journalist on his last moral legs, the film starts out disjointed, chaotic, hyper-kinetic; the March with bannerunmoored, fragmented consciousness of a hedonic drifter. As the events unfurl towards greater and greater violence, the clarity and steadiness of the camera increase, its moral vision clearer and fiercer, carrying the viewer through a journey of political awakening even as the story hurtles inexorably towards heartbreak, tragedy, and loss.

The name of the director was Oliver Stone. The film was Salvador.   Opened to dismissal, derision and poor distribution, it nonetheless garnered two Oscar nominations and is now lauded as one of the most important films of the period, acknowledged to have influenced the political debate, if not the policy, around Central America at the time.  (more…)