All of Humanity 8/10/16

Adam Vogal

Adam Vogal

Your Money Better Spent  – by Adam Vogal

Americans are consistently told that we do not have funds to support the programs that uplift people in our society. According to our politicians, we cannot afford programs that fully fund education, give complete food security to our poorest children, take care of people living near or in poverty, or have health care provided for all American citizens. We even let the bridges over rivers erode and crumble because we are short of funds.

But preparation for nuclear annihilation is crucial. We never question or curtail those funds.

Our representatives, utilizing our tax dollars, are spending $1 trillion just updating U.S. nuclear weapons systems over the next 30 years. There is no plan to spend $1 trillion on meeting human needs during this same time. Imagine the good that could be done with that much money. Now imagine the death and destruction of nuclear war. In this case, it really is an either-or proposition. We can spend $1 trillion on death and destruction, or we can spend it on making America a better place to live and raise our families.

Most Americans are intelligent when it comes to nuclear weapons. We know that if these weapons were used, it would ensure the destruction of life on our planet. We have seen the desolation that just two of these bombs caused in Japan 71 years ago when the power of nuclear weapons was just a miniscule fraction of the power they have today. We understand that updating weapons systems that have no other purpose than to destroy the world should be ended, not prioritized.

American citizens are no longer naïve enough to believe that a nuclear war is an acceptable way to handle our differences. Nobody actually still believes nuclear war is a win-lose situation with America coming out on top. This isn’t the fifties. We know it is a lose-lose all around. The only real safety comes from getting rid of all of the world’s nuclear weapons.

America is committed to spending $1 trillion on something that does nothing to help humanity or our human security. The world sees that we would rather waste our money on weapons than on things that actually help the people of our country and our world. What does that say about us?

We know that too many Americans are hurting, some are homeless, many in need of better education and better jobs today. We also know that $1 trillion goes a long way toward helping everyone achieve real health and security if spent on the programs that would help Americans—and all of humanity—instead of destroy it.

The politicians say we have the funds to spend on weapons that will destroy life on earth. It is time for the people to stand up and insist those funds be used to help our citizens create better lives for themselves and a better world for everyone. We have the funds, we are the ones who worked for them; let’s demand they be spent sanely and humanely.

Adam Vogal, Associate Editor of PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Resolution master’s candidate at Portland State University.

End of My Life 7/27/16

Adam Vogal

Adam Vogal

Why Black Lives Matter To Me  –  by Adam Vogal

There are deathbed conversions. I was there for one.

The day before he died in 2003, I asked my grandfather what was the greatest thing he had done in his 86 years of life. He thought for less than a second, and said, “ I saved a black man’s life in the middle of the Pacific ocean.” My grandfather was a Navy sailor during WWII and as far as I had always known, a lifelong racist.

As he spoke, I was startled that he said, “black man.” He did not use any derogatory phrases to describe the man he had saved nor the pilots who sunk his ship. The n-word and the term “Jap” that I had been accustomed to him using all during my childhood were missing throughout his entire description of his ship being sunk by Kamikaze pilots. But now he was facing his end. Things changed rapidly.

As he described his part in saving the black sailor when they hit the water, and the battle that led up to it, I could see the new pride he felt in his heroic actions. I could also see the acceptance that at the end of his life, he knew he had been wrong in his thinking about others. The greatest thing he did, in his entire life, was to save someone he despised only because their skin color differed from his. My grandfather, at that moment, became more of a teacher to me than he had ever been.

I became my grandfather’s witness. Facing his own imminent death, he clearly recognized that the way he had chosen to be in the world was not the way he wished he would have been. I saw him comprehending that the choices he had made to create separation from other human beings were ones that he now regretted, immensely. In his words, I saw him trying to enlighten me to the importance of not having regrets about the way I treat other people when I come to the end of my life.

Thanks to the instruction of my grandfather that day, I take up the cause of #blacklivesmatter today because I believe in the equality and equity of all human beings. I believe that every person, without exception, deserves the dignity and restorative justice that will create the world we all deserve to live in. I believe that black and brown bodies are equal to white bodies and should be honored and preserved in the same way by a police force that takes an oath to do so.

We can honor black lives and honor white lives. We can respect black lives, white lives, and the police officers that take an oath to protect them all. If you don’t think this is possible, I direct you to Wichita, Kansas, where Black Lives Matter and the police picnic together, reifying these very possibilities.

I offer this to you today because we need to do better as we act and react with one another in these uncertain times. Don’t wait until your deathbed. Be bold, be brave now.

Adam Vogal, Associate Editor of PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Resolution master’s candidate at Portland State University.