The Path of Peace and Liberty - Archive
"There is no path to peace.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is
The Non-Aggression Principle
This site is about a simple yet powerful idea called the
Tales from the Trail: 2017-2018
Christmas: Inns and Outs
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." - Jesus of Nazareth.
One of the most popular parables of the New Testament is the tale of the
In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is robbed and left for dead. Two members of the priestly class see the suffering man but do nothing to help, not wishing to become "ritually impure". Eventually a Samaritan comes upon the man and, with a compassionate heart, binds the man's wounds, transports him to an inn and provides payment for his care. Through his actions the Samaritan shows that he is the one who is truly doing the work of God.
The origins of kindness
All that we are, this very life we have, flows from an extended family that reaches deep into the distant past. We all come into this life through the efforts of our parents, and they by their parents, and their parents' parents, helped through the ages by supportive brothers and sisters, caring aunts and uncles, and wise elder relatives.
Our family is our earliest connection to others. These are our kin, the very origin of kindness, both the word and the act. From our family we learn to look beyond ourselves, to share, to care and to consider the needs of others.
Trace any family tree back several generations and you quickly find connections to dozens, hundreds, and eventually unknown thousands of other families. We are truly one human family, all linked together and dependent on one another, and increasingly so.
Poets, prophets and sages through the ages have commented on the connections among all peoples and even among all things. John Donne expressed this idea beautifully in the following poem:
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Healing the divisions
Politicians rule by dividing. Wise men heal by uniting.
We live in a world artificially divided into us versus them. Unnecessary destruction, cruelty and death are tragedies whether they happen in foreign lands or in one's own home. Instead of division, let us be guided by the
The Good Samaritan. Detail from a painting by Balthasar van Cortbemde (1647). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Fifty-fifty. Photo by Herbert E. French (1922). Public domain photo downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Cosmic connections. Top left image shows distribution of galaxies, bottom right shows neurons. Image of galaxies is from the Max Planck Society's Supercomputing Center in Garching, Germany. Image of neurons is from Paul De Koninck, Cervo Brain Research Center. Images compined and edited by Andrew Lesko.
August 6-9: Witnessing
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” - Elie Wiesel
The denial of history
Near the end of
It seems cruelly ironic to collectively pass guilt on all the German people for
In the end we do not know what responsibility any individual townsperson had in the incarceration of thousands of lives and the incineration of many thousands more. As a group, however, they did have have a singular responsibility in the aftermath. Having laid eyes on
A history of denial
August 6 marks the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. On that date in 1945, within a matter of seconds,
Throughout the war the United States government was quick to publicize German and Japanese atrocities but worked overtime to hide its own barbarism. Shortly after assuming the role of Viceroy of Japan, General McAuthor imposed total censorship on journalists wishing to report the aftermath of the atomic bombs, either confiscating or destroying nearly all photographic evidence taken at the two sites. We now know that, by a single act,
While we have long been told that the use of nuclear weapons was necessary to end the war, a number of high ranking officers, including General Eisenhower and Admirals Halsey and Leahy, thought that they were not needed. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, had in fact advised the Truman administration against using the new weapon.
Unfortunately, here in the United States we continue to live under a veil of ignorance, both with regard to World War II and to the seven or more current wars that the U.S. is either leading or participating in. In this hyper-connected world that provides billions with the access to instant information, there seems to be little knowledge in this country of the damage and suffering caused by decades of war and political and economic interference by the U.S. government.
Worth the price?
In 1991, after a massive 42 day bombing campaign that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, in part due to the targeting of water treatment plants, George H.W. Bush proudly proclaimed that the U.S. had
The cost of ignorance
Ignorance is not bliss.
Buchenwald survivors, including Elie Wiesel, quoted above. Instead of piles of bodies, I choose this picture of the survivors of the Buchenwald death camp to illustrate not just the horrors of the State but also the dignity and strength of the human spirit. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Nuclear cloud over Nagasaki. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, with modifications.
Is the price worth it? Screen capture of Iraqi victims of U.S. economic sanctions, from Leslie Stahl interview of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the 60 Minutes news program, May 12, 1996. The dialog is as follows - Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it."
May 28: Memorial Day - Remembering and Forgetting
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
I have visited the
Of course, like most memorials, the site tells only part of the story. While it provides a powerful memorial to the U.S. veterans that lost their lives, they were but a small fraction of the total deaths caused by that atrocity. The toll of Vietnamese fatalities, both military and civilian, was far greater and would require another 20, 30 or even 40 more trenches to commemorate. Using conservative estimates we find that over 440,000 Vietnamese servicemen died on both sides of that conflagration along with
In addition to the costs in human lives there were the financial costs. At least
As strongly as
Photos of soldiers at the entrance the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women's Memorial, and names of deceased U.S. Vietnam war vets by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.
Motherhood - Love, Life and Loss
"In times of peace the young bury the old. In times of war the old bury the young." - From Herodotus*
I came of age during
During the depths of that senseless war my mother discovered that she had Multiple Sclerosis. It hit her young and it hit her hard. Within days of her 37th birthday, she was gone.
The original quote from Herodotus, referenced above, is "In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons". War in modern times does not limit itself to destroying the lives of brave young men, however.
Disease and Destruction
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is
In the United States today we have the equivalent of a broken immune system.
It seems that suffering can either make you more sensitive to pain or make you more callous. The sorrow I experienced and shared with my father and brother certainly made me more aware of the pain of others. That awareness, along with a lifetime’s investigation into
Mom, photographed by my dad in 1967; Vietnam refugees (1963) - Photo provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.
February 8, 2018: A Matter of Perspective
One beautiful example is Raphael's
In contrast to that time,
The people in power, in turn, seem incapable of seeing beyond a single dimension. Lacking any depth of understanding regarding
Finally there are the citizens. Often misinformed but nonetheless willing participants in the political process, they flail back and forth within the narrow confines of left and right, seemingly distracted by the smallest of issues and unable to see the bigger picture. Blocked in their desire for peace and prosperity by forces they cannot see, they fixate on small obstacles but perceive them as an insurmountable barriers. Lacking perspective, they are unable to see alternate paths forward.
As long as people are locked into the false dichotomy of left and right, they will forever be unable to see the fuller, richer reality.
"School of Athens" by Raphael, c. 1509-1511; "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" by Paul Gauguin, c. 1897; "Return of the Bucentoro to the Molo on Ascension Day" by Canaletto, c. 1733-4; "The Nolan Chart", from a diagram created by David Nolan in 1969.
November 16, 2017: Failure to Communicate
A recent survey of Americans revealed that 69% would skip holiday gift giving if their friends and family would agree. Most of those surveyed opined that they would have more time with loved ones if they weren’t so busy shopping.
To quote the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Over two thirds of Americans are doing something they do not want to do yet they could easily remedy it by openly talking to those they are closest with. What is the cause of this communication breakdown? Is it possible that there are other things that people are not talking about, but should?
It has become painfully obvious that many in Hollywood knew of the sexual predations of producers and others with power but remained silent for years. Perhaps some of the victims and witnesses saw what happened to Sinead O’Connor. In the early 90’s the young singer tried to kick start a conversation about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church through a song and strong symbolic gesture but was instead harassed mercilessly by those who were either ignorant of the facts or wished not to know.
As serious as these past and current sexual abuse accusations are, there are even more disturbing things afoot. In what is perhaps the most stunning silence of our modern times, there has been a near total absence of discussion regarding the out of control militarization of American culture and its brutal effects on nations across the globe. From Bush to Clinton to Bush Jr and Obama, this moral outrage has remained largely unspoken, and perhaps unknown, by the majority of Americans as the number of wars has continued to grow, costing trillions of dollars and inflicting untold misery.
In this holiday time, in the spirit of those speaking out against sexual aggression, we call on all good people to voice their opposition now to the endless wars abroad and the coinciding attacks against personal freedom at home.
We must work together to be heard. Politicians are masters at silencing the peaceful through evasion, intimidation and fear. They are practiced deflectors, able to distract people with heated discussions of flag burning and arguments over whether to stand for a war anthem. They are merciless against any that would blow the whistle. It is unfortunate that the compliant mainstream media continues to provide them cover, finding it much easier to sell ads by not opposing the State. Ratings do go up, after all, at the start of each big new war while old wars continue to smolder and destroy, largely without notice.
The time for fearlessness is now. We have long been told to never let down our guard yet failed to notice our gradual enslavement to the State. Let’s be brave and be willing to stand together now and endure whatever repercussions come from quickly exiting these wars.
Let’s also be honest. The United States did not end when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, and the world will not come to an end when the US inevitably withdraws from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This is not isolationism. We do not need to withdraw from the world but can instead, by withdrawing from militarism, embrace it through the promotion of travel, trade and shared good will.
"Freedom from Want" by Norman Rockwell, Sinead O'Connor on "Saturday Night Live", October 3, 1992.
November 12, 2017: Can we agree on this?
Look, we all want Peace, right?
Why, then, don’t we have it?
Perhaps we are afraid of appearing foolish to want it so much..
Perhaps we are afraid of being perceived as naïve children or uninhibited hippies from the sixties..
The truth is that Peace is a thing to be desired by mature adults as well as children and dreamers. We don’t necessarily need to be covered with Peace signs or wear flowers in our hair to show how much we want it. We just need to live our lives as people who have fully embraced it.
One thing we can surely do is to stop participating in the partisan bickering. We need to escape the deadlock of the two-party duopoly that has tried to silence diverse voices, from Ralph Nader to Ron Paul, that challenge the system and debunk the false narratives. We need to stop pretending there is a real choice between the Democrats and Republicans. We need to recognize that they are dividing us, pitting clan against tribe, city against country, women against men and men against women.
What we need to do instead is to embrace those things that unite us, and surely one of these must be the desire for Peace. Over the course of the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to both natural and unexpected allies, revealing the common elements that unite us through our opposition to war and embrace of the
November 2, 2017: Fragile Democracy
Democracy must be a delicate thing to be so easily damaged by the mere possibly of fake news from foreigners. The mainstream media is all in a tither over the possibility of Russian interference in U.S. elections. As usual I suspect they are probably missing the real story. Let’s take a look for ourselves at some of the electronic ads “the Russians” reportedly paid to promote during the last election cycle.
Electronic Ad #1
Other than a small grammatical error, what is wrong with this ad? It is a fact, after all, that guns are used as deterrents from crime tens of thousands of times each year in the United States alone. And it is no secret that many in the Democratic party are quite open about their desire to increase gun control. Considering these facts, I think it is clear that the people attracted to this ad would not likely have been supporters of Hilary Clinton.
By the way, I think I should start putting quotes around the “Democratic” party brand to emphasize the irony of the name, especially considering how the DNC short circuited the democratic process internally to bend the election towards HRC in the last primary.
Electronic Ad #2
Is this ad considered dangerous because it is factually inaccurate?
I find it hard to believe that Hilary Rodham Clinton only had a 69% disapproval rating among veterans during the last election cycle. I would have thought it was much higher than that, considering how she contributed heavily towards getting U.S. troops involved in new wars, this time with the Libyan and Syrian peoples. HRC also had a bad reputation among veterans for minimizing issues being reported by injured vets and their families at US VA hospitals. I doubt the people who identified with this ad would need much reminding to not vote for Hillary.
With regards to the picture in the ad, it seems odd that Social Justice Warriors, among HRC’s biggest supporters, seem more concerned with perceived social slights to a rotating selection of victim groups within the U.S. than with the wholesale assault and destruction of families, tribes and entire nations across Asia and Africa caused by a militarized U.S. foreign policy, one that HRC seemed quite comfortable with.
Electronic Ad #3
Was Bernie Sander’s misquoted? If not, what is the “problem” with this ad?
There is certainly plenty of published evidence of “pay to play” deals and the use of Clinton Foundation funds to help pay for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
Perhaps this ad was produced to remind Bernie Sanders supporters of what was done to their candidate by the HRC dominated “Democratic” Party during the 2016 primaries.
Were these and other ads enough to tip the balance towards Trump? Was the will of the people denied by interference from the Russians? Did any of this have any measurable effect at all on the last U.S. election?
The Russians certainly didn’t interfere with my "democratic rights". I was appalled by both major candidates, and finding no anti-war candidates among the other parties who were also committed to economic and social freedom, I decided to once again stay home on election day.
April 1, 2017: Good News or Bad?
~ Were the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election good news or bad news for lovers of peace and liberty?
When the 2016 US presidential election results were finally revealed there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some less experienced survivors of the election process decried the results as the “worst thing ever”, conveniently ignoring two world wars, the bubonic plague and other minor occurrences.
The youth, of course, can be forgiven for their tendency towards hyperbole. Wiser, more traveled folk, however, must observe these things with
There was once an old Chinese farmer who had the apparent misfortune of having his best stallion run off. His neighbor came over to express his regrets, but the farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the stallion returned bringing with him three wild mares. The neighbor rushed back to celebrate with the farmer, but the old farmer simply said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The following day, the farmer’s son fell from one of the wild mares while trying to break her in and broke his arm and injured his leg. The neighbor came by to check on the son and give his condolences, but the old farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the army came to the farm to conscript the farmer’s son for the war, but found him invalid and left him with his father. The neighbor thought to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.”
So was the election of Donald Trump good or bad? For someone with a libertarian perspective, the past election cycle was just another repetition of an endless process where the most vile and power-hungry gnaw their way to the top. There was certainly no peace and liberty candidate amongst the two major parties, with both the Republican and the Democratic nominees trying to outdo each other with their blatant militarism. At best, Trump was perhaps 4% less belligerent with respect to foreign policy, offering some skepticism of the Iraq war and making some overtures towards improving relations with Russia.
The Green party candidate at least got points for proposing a position for Edward Snowden in her cabinet. Unfortunately, her economic proposals were the typical socialist nostrums that have proved a failure in countries throughout Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment, though, was the Libertarian party candidate. The candidate and his running mate may very well have confused and turned off perspective libertarians for a generation. With a seeming disregard or misunderstanding of property rights, their proposals, other than the legalization of marijuana, had seemingly little connection to the
Was the election of Donald Trump good or bad?
If more people have awoken to the enormity of state power and its ability to disrupt the lives of people throughout the world, it may be a good thing. If more of us are willing to push back, reclaiming the right of all people to liberty and peace, it may be an even better thing. And if more people can see past the artificial divisions created by partisan politics and unite to press for both a containment of and rapid halt to the spreading flames of war, it may be the best news of all.
War is threatening to become pandemic across several large regions of the globe and there are signs that we are on the verge of a world wide epidemic. Careful planning and extreme caution are advised.
The war disease continues to shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, both directly and through destruction of basic social services.
Please check back for additional information.