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constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Reflections on Ferguson

November 26, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Cover of Darkness, Rays of Light

by Randall Amster

The announcement arrived at the telegraphed moment, conveniently scheduled for prime time in most zones. A decision said to shed light on a matter of national importance is revealed only after dark, with the lede buried under a pile of prosecutorial dereliction. When the decisive words newfergseasonsare finally uttered, they echo with unintended irony as a broken system delivers its own self-indictment: “No True Bill.”

We’ve been here before, far too many times. Anguish fills the air, slowly replaced by tear gas and smoke. Rage smolders from the friction of perpetual despair, finally igniting fires that engulf a handful of structures. People are urged to lodge their complaints but keep their place, to express their views but only from the sidelines, to follow the rule of law but relegate their quest for justice. The convenient spectacle of “violence in the streets” obscures the perpetuation of “structural violence” everywhere. (more…)

Remembering Mandela

December 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

What Didn’t Kill Him Made Him Stronger

by David Swanson

Nelson Mandela’s story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life.  Worse, we don’t tell such stories in many of our novels.

A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs.  He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation.  He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory.  He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable.  He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away.  But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.

Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause.  He was a fighter and a boxer.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: “Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. … Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you.  And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened.” (more…)

Trivializing Peace

November 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

We Lose Every War We Fight…

by Robert C. Koehler

What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.

Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.

This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists. (more…)

Reclaiming ‘Chiraq’

November 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Repairing Justice and Rebuilding Community

by Robert C. Koehler

I felt the music and the fire as the civil rights movement rose from its slumber.

“Repair . . . justice!” went the call and response last week, in the basement of an old Chicago church at the corner of Ashland and Washington. “Restore . . . life! Rebuild . . . community!”

There was Gospel music and hand-clapping, passion and politics. The Reclaim Campaign launched and the Rev. Alvin Love said, “This is just the beginning. It’s going to take all of us. We’re going to leave this place mobilized, energized and activated. The work begins NOW.”

Reclaim “Chiraq.” The kids are dying. That’s what they call Chicago: “Chiraq.” The situation has to change; the community has to rebuild.

(more…)

One of Us

November 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Corralling the Loners and Stemming the Violence

by Robert C. Koehler

Another crazed, furious loner shocks the world. This time I’m a little too close to the edge of the chaos.

I gape at the TV in disbelief: I’m supposed to fly out of Los Angeles Airport — Terminal 3, no less — that afternoon, but all I see is footage of scrambling police and snarled traffic. If I’d booked an earlier flight, I could have been sitting there when the 23-year-old gunman shot the TSA agent at the foot of the escalator, then wandered through the gate area with his rifle and his grievances.

There are worse things in life than having to reschedule a flight. I postponed my return to Chicago for two days. Now that I’m back, I’m still thinking about last week’s killer-rampage spectacle, which culminated in the wounding and arrest of the suspect, Paul Ciancia. Afterward came the media’s smattering of sound-bite psychology. (more…)

Preventable Violence

November 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Laura L. Finley

Taking Responsibility for Helping Those in Need

by Laura L. Finley

In the last two weeks over a four-day period, 14 adults and seven children from four different states were killed in domestic violence-related murders.  In Texas, police said a man with a long criminal history and a substance abuse problem went on a murder spree on October 26, killing his mother in the home he shared with her, then an aunt and three others. On October 28, police officer Christopher Robinson shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and her firefighter boyfriend near Baltimore, Maryland. Robinson then committed suicide. In New York City, a relative hacked to pieces a mother and her four young children. Bryan Sweatt, who called 911 and told the operator he was “stressed out,” broke into his girlfriend’s home in Greenwood, South Carolina, where he duct-taped her then shot and killed her and four others, including two children, before killing himself.

In the U.S, an estimated 1,300 people are killed each year from domestic violence. This is nine women each week.  According to Futures Without Violence, in 2011, 1,707 women were murdered by men, and, of them, 1,509 were by people they knew. Over half of the homicides involved guns. (more…)

Being Somebody

October 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Missy Beattie

Survival in an Age of Violence

by Missy Beattie

Another school shooting. Another candlelight vigil.  On Monday, October 21st, a Nevada teacher was murdered and two 12-year-old boys were wounded. The shooter, described as a “nice kid,” killed himself at the scene.

Student Amaya Newton said, “I believe it was because I saw him getting bullied a couple of times and I think he took out his bullying.”

Another student reported that the shooter said, “You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours.”

Just a few days before, Erma, Laura, and I sat in my living room, talking about 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick who jumped to her death last month after she was bullied. Guadalupe Shaw, 14, and Katelyn Roman, 12, have been charged with felony aggravated stalking.

On Shaw’s Facebook page was a post her parents and her attorneys insist is evidence of a hacked account. The Shaws maintain that their daughter would never have written, “Yes, IK (I know) I bullied REBECCA nd (and) she killed her self but IDGAF (I don’t give a fuck).”

Erma said, “I am Rebecca Sedwick.” And she cried. (more…)