“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. “A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon be easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The drums of war are pounding once again. Those in position of national power have escalated the ongoing conflict with Iraq to a feverish pitch. Already young men and women looking to “Be all that they could be” are on the frontline. Many didn’t want to fight a war. They only wanted a chance in these hard economic times.
As I write this article, I reflect on living through the Vietnam
“conflict”, Desert Storm and other such militaristic actions. The prophetic words of Dr. King are as relevant today as they were so many years ago “I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
When I came to work this morning, I chatted casually with a woman in the elevator. She introduced herself and I told her that I worked for Women Against Military Madness (WAMM). She asked me a question that has come up time and time again in recent days “Do you still have hope?” My response to her was an unwavering “Yes!.” While the preparation for war has been ever present, I have been more hopeful for humanity than ever. All over the globe, the people are raising their voices in protest to war as the only answer to conflict between sovereign states or groups of people. Unlikely coalitions are forming. True dialogue is taking place. People are listening to one another. The connection between what Dr. King called the “three evils”, racism, poverty, and militarism, is no longer shrouded in the veil of consumerism and greed. Boundaries that have separated groups of people are being dismantled. Now don’t get me wrong. We have by no means our Utopia. However, we are awakening from a deep sleep. In the free-spending days of the close of the 20th century where the purchase of $200 tennis shoes became a status symbol, we were often were willing to overlook the connections between our consumerism and oppressive regimes that violate human rights, increase drug trade and military spending.
In “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy”, writer Kevin Bales examines the commonalities of all forms of slavery, both historic as well as current, and the economic implications. The use of social, physical, relational, and economic violence is a common factor. This includes the legal and economic systems and ultimately physical violence:
“So slavery requires either a failure of the state to maintain law and order or its complicity. In each of his case studies Bales looks at the role of the legal system and law enforcement. Failure to protect slaves or enforce anti-slavery legislation may be the result of apathy, discrimination, or corruption; sometimes there is more direct involvement, with the police playing an active role in intimidating slaves and catching runaways.
Also common to all forms of slavery is a profit-making motive, though the profits from the “new” style of slavery tend to be much larger than from the older forms. Bales covers both microeconomic detail and connections with broader national and global economies. He analysis, for example, the profits to be made from owning a water-carrier slave in Nouakchott, Mauritania, or running a four-worker charcoal-making operation in Brazil. And he looks at the scale of the profits made by the businessmen with “clean hands” who run slave-u