Monthly Archives: October 2006

Hope from GK

Published on Thursday, October 26, 2006 by the Baltimore Sun
Bush Closes the Gap Between Freedom and Terror, but there is an Upside
by Garrison Keillor

We are engaged in a struggle between freedom and the forces of terror, and mostly I side with freedom, such as the freedom to look at big shots and stick out your tongue and blow, but of course terror has its place too. The dude strolling down our street at night does not break into our house to see what’s available because he is terrified that if he’s nabbed, his girlfriend Janine will run off to Philly with her ex-boyfriend Eddie, who’s been hanging around. She’s the best thing in Benny’s life right now. So he walks on by and leaves our stereo be.

The terror of everlasting hellfire kept me away from dances until I was 12 years old and away from smoking cigarettes until I was 15. So that’s good. Dancing was briefly thrilling, and then I caught sight of myself in a mirror and I haven’t gone to a dance since. Fear of ridicule is powerful too.

A lack of terror may encourage crooks to operate brazenly, knock over the candy stand, trip the nuns, hurl garbage over the balcony, and that’s why you have cops. But now the federal government is extending the frontiers of terror with the Military Commissions Act, legalizing torture and suspending habeas corpus and constructing a loose web of law by which you and I could be hung by our ankles in a meat locker for as long as somebody deems necessary.
“Any person is punishable … who knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States,” the law states, and when it comes to deciding what “knowingly and intentionally” might mean, or who is the enemy, that’s for a military commission to decide in secret, with or without you present. No Fifth Amendment; hearsay evidence admissible; no judicial review.

People came to America to escape this sort of justice. The midnight knock on the door, incarceration at the whim of men in shiny boots, confessions obtained with a section of hose, secret trial by Star Chamber.

Not that this is a bad thing. Who am I to say? Maybe we’ve been too lenient with enemies of the state. A period of stark repression might be a rich and rewarding experience for all of us. But when the Current Occupant signed the bill last week, the difference between freedom and terror did suddenly shrink somewhat. It makes you wonder: What if Dick Cheney does not wish to give up power two years from now? Maybe he has other priorities. If an enemy of the United States – a Democrat, for example – appeared to be on the verge of election, perhaps Mr. Cheney, for the good of the country, will be forced to take the threat seriously and head for an undisclosed location and invoke his war powers and shovel a few thousand traitors into camps and call up his friends at Diebold and program the election results that are best for the country – or call the whole thing off.

OK by me if it’s OK by you. I don’t imagine that coffee sales will be affected or that Paris Hilton will be, like, “Whoa, this is so not cool,” and, like, text-message her buds to join her on a hunger strike. The greeters at Wal-Mart will still smile, and the football season will go on. They might flash a bulletin at halftime, “Terror Threat Forces Postponement of Election,” and most people would be OK with that. If Mr. Cheney thinks it necessary to suspend the Constitution for a while, surely he has his reasons.

They won’t have to torture me to get a good confession. I am a professional writer of fiction, and if they turn the bright lights on yours truly, beans will spill by the bushel, names will be named. Everybody who ever done me wrong, I am going to implicate them up to their dewlaps. A trial with hearsay evidence allowed and no cross-examination is tailor-made for a novelist.

Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.

Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun

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Patch Adams on Voting November 7

This article is so crazy, absurd, and ridiculous that I fell in love with it instantly. Enjoy.

Published Tuesday, October 24, 2006 on Common Dreams News Center.

While the State Department’s Alberto Fernandez felt obligated to take back his comments that elements of U.S. policy in Iraq have been arrogant and stupid, the truth is that U.S. policy post-9/11 has been driven by arrogance and stupidity. What could be stupider than the idea that violence could end the threat of terrorism and make us safer at home? Simple logic tells us that responding to terror with more violence will only lead to more terror and more violence. Now we have that logic confirmed by the grim facts on the ground in Iraq.

Isn’t it time for a radical change of course? There’s only one thing more powerful than violence, and that’s love. So shouldn’t we be fighting violence with love? I don’t mean relational love. I mean treating people with love. Feeding them. Educating them. Healing them. That kind of love.
As a doctor—and a clown—I’ve seen the tremendous healing power of love. The number one factor for surviving a heart attack is having a loving community. A study of 4,000 women with breast cancer found that with a little love—six hour-long support sessions—their survival rate increased five-fold. With the situation in Iraq imploding, tensions increasing with Iran and North Korea, and our government’s policies leading more and more people to hate Americans, it’s time to take the healing power of love to the global level. It’s time for a love platform.

What’s a love platform? It’s a set of policies that shows compassion for the elderly, the mentally ill, the homeless, the poor. It’s a platform that treats the environment with the loving respect it deserves.

A love platform would call for kissing, not killing. You switch two little letters and you get a whole new outlook on life. Kissing, not killing.

A love platform would put women in charge—women with loving instincts who would treat the world the way my mother treated my friends when they came to my house. She fed them, she wiped their noses, she was nice. That’s it. We’d have a policy called “Be Nice.” If everyone treated people like my mother did, we’d put an end to violence.

We need to create a massive global movement for loving. It would be like the Peace Corps times 10,000. People who have resources would go, en masse, to help those without. People with skills would teach those without. People who are healthy would take care of those who are sick.
We’d save cabinet positions for the Amish people who embraced the family of the man who killed their children. We’d put in charge of foreign policy the people who lost loved ones on 9/11 but insisted that revenge was not the answer, or the women of CODEPINK who tried desperately to stop the war in Iraq before it even began.

It really amazes me that we spend so many hours as a society focusing on love as sex or love that some consider perverse: Mark Foley sending emails to underage boys, Bill Clinton with an intern, love between people of the same sex. But we spend no time focusing on the big love that should drive our lives and our policies, i.e. love for the human family. We spend no time in school teaching young people how to grow up to be loving adults. The media gives us never-ending examples of violence and hate, but rarely gives us the uplifting examples of the kid who spends his lunch money on feeding the homeless. We hear about the brave soldiers who fight, but not about the people—often women—who force the soldiers to put down their guns.

For those who say that a love platform is ridiculous and naive, I ask them to compare the results of the $300 billion we’ve spent on war in Iraq with what we would get if we had spent that money on setting up health clinics all over the world and feeding people who are hungry. I travel around the world and meet lots of people who fear and hate us. If we spent our energy and resources uplifting people in need—spreading laughter and light instead of bombs and bullets—we’d live in a world that was happier, healthier and safer.

So come November 7, be smart. Vote out stupid and arrogant candidates who think that occupying Iraq by force or bombing Iran will make us safe. And vote for candidates who understand the simple notion that love is not only the best medicine, it’s also smart policy.

Patch Adams, M.D., is a nationally known speaker on wellness, laughter, humor and life. To support peace candidates, go to www.givepeaceavote.org.

Oh how I could relate last weekend…