New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Know-Nothing Security

May 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

No One Is Safe in a Police State

by Robert C. Koehler

Let’s all work together to stop terrorism!

The Palm Beach County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office has a new video out urging local citizens to call them if something smells bad or seems a little weird, like, oh, a tourist is taking a picture of a bridge but there’s no one in the foreground — no spouse, no grinning kids, just . . . a bridge.

If it seems suspicious, call — because, I guess, if everyone is vigilant (“Hello, I want to report two young men carrying backpacks”) and we work with the authorities, America will be safe as pie in no time.

This program is called Community Partners Against Terrorism, though I’m tempted to call it know-nothing security — the kind based on stereotypes, unexamined fears, self-righteousness, external projections and an us-vs.-them social organization. Terrorists are bad people with inscrutable motives. All we need to know is that they’re out to get us. This is the message of the terrorism “experts,” who leverage their authority from their ability to keep us scared and vigilant. (more…)

Autonomous Organization

March 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Zapatistas and the Struggle for Survival on Planet Earth

by Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon

After visiting Guatemala for two months, we crossed the border into Chiapas on December 21 — Winter Solstice and the 13th Baktun — the first day of the New Mayan Era.  On that very day, the Zapatistas made a dramatic reappearance.  After four years of silence amid speculation about the status of their movement, more than 40,000 Zapatistas appeared in five towns they had occupied by force nineteen years earlier on January 1, 1994 — Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Altamirano, Palenque and San Cristobal de Las Casas. Inspiring a profound sense of awe, men and women marched silently together in the rain, wearing ponchos and their trademark ski masks, unarmed, with young children on their backs. (more…)

Catching the Drift

February 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Ecology, Randall Amster

Can We Avoid Getting Swept Up in the Winds of Disenchantment?

by Randall Amster

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the news cycle, as if it actually represents reality and merits our continuous attention. But it’s largely a “bad news” cycle that we’re talking about, and in consuming
it one can hardly avoid the conclusion that “the sky is falling” — a notion that’s coupled with a hegemonic “unless” that asserts “the end” can be averted only through more devices of the war-austerity-exploitation sort. Simply put, the mainstream media cultivates a dualistic ethos of despair/fear and resignation/capitulation that is difficult to resist, and yet is one that must be resisted if we are to retain the capacity to imagine a better world and work toward its realization.

I struggle with this dilemma on a daily basis. To unplug from the incessant negativism of the news crawl is to fall “out of the loop” in short order and to be lost in the myriad conversations of our lives that devolve upon “hot topic” and “currently trending” references. It also makes it difficult to comment on said news in order to offer analysis, critique, or even points of reference that will resonate for readers outside the avowed Luddites in our midst. Thus, in order to be relevant, it seems as if we need to be at least conversant with the “devil’s in the details” quality that makes up the news of the day. (more…)

Love the Future

February 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Robert C. Koehler

‘I Am Because You Are’

by Robert C. Koehler

Their grief is too profound and too public. Their words have to be taken seriously — allowed to mix with the politics and the self-interest and the fear, those generic trivializers of the national conversation.

“This is a Promise we make to our precious children. Because each child, every human life is filled with promise, and though we continue to be filled with unbearable pain we choose love, belief, and hope instead of anger.”

The website is called the Sandy Hook Promise. It advances no particular agenda, except to proclaim . . . the value of life. And in so doing, the site’s organizers — residents of Newtown, Conn., wounded by the tragedy — quietly insist that this matters, not abstractly but politically. (more…)

Risking Peace

January 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Winslow Myers

Changing Direction Is Worth the Gamble

by Winslow Myers

Because we are the wealthiest nation on the planet, we have the luxury of being proactive in ensuring our future security. But the path to that security looks very different from the way it did even a few years ago.

A primary example of our transformed security context is the realization that there is only one ocean of air surrounding the earth. Unless all nations make a concerted effort to convert to sources of clean energy, global mean temperatures will continue to rise and cause undesirable extremes of weather. Strategic competition between superpowers like Russia, China and the U.S. becomes irrelevant to the larger crisis of fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions from all countries. The violence of storms in our country may be intensified by the environmental policies of another country, and vice-versa. Fossil fuel corporations, more powerful than many national governments, must be pressured from taking more oil or coal out of the ground even though they have the technical means and the capital to do so. While entrenched interests are resistant to such painful change, countries like Germany are providing a model of how it can be done, having relinquished nuclear power and moved successfully toward hybridized alternatives like solar, wind, tidal, and low-head hydro power — indeed, a far more secure mix than a huge vulnerable nuclear reactor or coal-fired, smoke-belching plant. (more…)

Put It Behind Us

December 31, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

New Year’s Resolutions for a More Simplified and Peaceful Life

by Jan Lundberg

To put behind us the “con$umerist relationship” that we have with nature, we can do something new that may be radically traditional. Judge for yourself whether if done widely, it might inspire to move us faster toward a paradigm of actual sustainability. Maybe it’s something like this new set of alternative New Year’s resolutions. Some of them happen to be gift options too. Let the fun and peaceful rebellion begin, starting with a solstice party.

Humans did evolve by spending many a millennium in “the Garden” — pre-civilized living without the antithesis of nature, i.e., the city. It is obvious we now need to bring back our intimate relationship with the Earth before it is too late. It this all sounds too familiar or boring, what about being a little subversive, eh? It’s simple: (more…)

A Gospel of Wealth

December 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Making Eye Contact with the Poverty in Our Midst

by Robert C. Koehler

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

Well, OK. She wanted $4. I could have done the “pretend not to see you” thing. Taking that option is part of life these days, especially in Chicago. She’d been standing in the middle of the intersection, trying to get money so that — if she was to be believed — she and her daughter could get dinner at the McDonald’s on the corner. When the light changed, she came over to me. I was out for a walk. It was a beautiful, cold December night.

This is what I’d been thinking: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It was a quote from one of my favorite writers, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and at times it feels true — such as when I’m walking through my vibrant, unpredictable neighborhood. Suddenly nothing is ordinary or banal, nothing is to be blown off. Oh, the humanity. (more…)