On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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John Malkin is the author of Sounds of Freedom: Musicians on Spirituality and Social Change and The Only Alternative: Christian Nonviolent Peacemakers in America. He is a musician, journalist, activist, and radio-show host who lives with his wife and four-year-old son in Santa Cruz, California.
The big story isn’t history. That’s just another substitute for the life of the human soul, which is the real story. In the long run it’s the poets, not the newspapers, who have the news. The news is a superficial exchange of information that can never tell the whole story. The poets tell us we’re in this great, ongoing dance that includes opportunities to fight and love and fall down and get back up. Hopefully we have the occasional chance to do our particular dance in the middle of all that.
For the record, I don’t believe you can be a Christian and support war in any form — or, for that matter, support greed that leads to global poverty or any form of injustice, racism, or sexism. Christians are supposed to be peacemakers. The only thing you can say for sure about Jesus is that he was nonviolent. That was his whole message. Martin Luther King Jr. said that this is actually the most exciting era for a Christian to be alive, because we’re at the brink of destruction, and our only choice is to lead humanity back to the nonviolence of Jesus. Gandhi said that Jesus was the most active practitioner of nonviolence in the history of the world, and the only people who don’t see that are Christians. It’s incredible!
This war was waged, ostensibly, over weapons of mass destruction. I always say that if you want to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, all you have to do is go to the pediatric wards and see the children whose lives have been ruined by depleted-uranium ammunition left in the soil after the Gulf War. The U.S. has developed, sold, and used more weapons of mass destruction than any other nation in history.
The big popular movements in this country did not all come about in the sixties. The women’s and environmental movements both began in the seventies. The antinuclear and solidarity movements arose in the eighties. The big global-justice movements started in the nineties. The elites have to keep trying to beat freedom down, because it won’t go back into its shell.