It’s wonderful to be here today at Wartburg, which I have long
admired as one of America’s great liberal arts colleges.
I would like to underline that word “liberal” in the context of
liberal arts. It does not, of course, refer to big government, or to
left-of-center politics. No, as I’m sure you know, it refers to the
art of thinking freely—training the mind to think for itself, free of
the lies and fantasies and prejudices that wrap around us from an
In this time, the very idea of human life on the planet is at stake.
War and violence have taken new and decidedly more dangerous turns.
So you are doing well to be freeing your minds right now. That is a
difficult task, as there are so many forces around you, telling you
what and how to think, and selling you incredible lies.
The War on Terrorism is a good example. It is a term used to keep
you from thinking freely and from actually solving the world’s
problems relating to poverty and freedom. If you solved those
problems you would severely damage the profits of the elite.
The very idea that you can have war on terror is as silly as the idea
that you can have war on anger. War itself is insane anger.
As the world’s resources become stressed by global warming and
overpopulation, do we really think we can kill all the angry people?
Can we calm them down by dropping bombs on their villages and
spraying their families with machine gun bullets? Isn’t that rather
like dropping gasoline and crumpled newspaper on forest fires instead
of water? Do you think anyone really thinks it will work? They don’t
even want it to work. War is too profitable. It is profitable for
those who finance the careers of our politicians.
Islamo-fascism, as a label, is yet another fraud used to keep you
from thinking freely. Some people in the world are so desperate and
angry that they will blow themselves up just to hurt us, that is
true. But it has to do with the conditions of their lives, not with
religion. Religion is always the excuse for murder, but rarely the
motive. If I tell you that God wants us all to clean up the dining
rooms tonight, to scrub every seat and scrape-off every blob of gum,
you will thank me for my opinion and you will back out of the room en
masse. If, however, I tell you that God wants us all to storm the
administration building tonight and change our grades to straight
A’s, then how many of you will answer God’s call? In war, religion
is a cover and an organizing convenience. That’s all it has ever
been, going back to the Crusades, which were all about treasure and
The “War on Terrorism,” has very little to do with anyone’s religious
beliefs. Terrorism, historically, is a term used to describe what
governments do to rule through fear—to overrule the rule of law. The
term originated after the French Revolution as a tool for suppressing
dissent. If we are to truly prosecute a War on Terrorism, it would
inclue preventing governments from using fear to shred the democratic
rule of law.
If you want to stop insane anger in the world, you have to get at
world poverty and the injustices that people suffer as nations
ruthlessly jockey for resources.
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Anytime you hear tough
language like that, you will do well to assume it means the
opposite. If we actually don’t negotiate with terrorists, you
would have heard the President make a speech proclaiming that:
“Nothing our enemies do will persuade us in the least to give up on
our principles. We will hold fast to our Bill of Rights and to the
cherished Geneva Convention. All suspects will be afforded a lawyer
and a trial and humane treatment, no matter what. We will not run
like cowards away from the Constitution and the human values that our
people have fought and died to protect and improve. We will not give
any of that up to the terrorists in exchange for some hope of extra
safety. We will not negotiate.”
THAT would be refusing to negotiate with terrorists. But that is not
what this government has done. In terms of giving up on things of
value, this government has knelt down and emptied its pockets after
the first punch. It was profitable for some people for this to happen.
Not only has our so-called government given away our basic human
rights—turned them over to the terrorists in exchange for worthless
hopes of safety—but they have subjected you and me to endless little
indignities unbecoming American citizens.
Why do they harass you at the airports, refusing to let you stop your
car for a moment at the curb to pick-up your friends? Do they think
that, by harassing you in this way, that they are in any way
preventing a truck from driving up and exploding? They of course know
better. It is not about that. it is about keeping you fearful, and
reminding us that We the People no longer have the power. Speak up at
the airport and you will be whisked away. What a wonderful place an
airport is to teach us all about the new country we are living in.
So you take off your shoes because one madman had an exploding shoe
some years ago. I’m not sure which is worse: one possible tragedy
like that, or the smell of a hundred million feet thereafter. The
point of this airport ceremony is to physically humiliate you into
subservience to the new state. Get used to it, because it is just
getting started--if you will let it.
Any politician you hear talking seriously about the War on Terror or
about Islamo-Fascism is lying to you and trying to prevent you from
thinking freely. Call them on it. Tell them you think those terms
are really just a lot of BS meant to deflect attention from the real
issues of world poverty, the unsustainable exploitation of resources
and other issues that we, in fact, could address seriously with a
fraction of what we spend on counterproductive warfare—though we
understand it is highly profitable for some.
If you are a psych major or have taken some psych courses, you
understand that we often transfer to others the things we fear most
within ourselves. When some leaders label others with words like
terrorist, let them look first to what they are themselves doing in
the world. Are they upholding the human rights encoded in the U.S.
Constitution, and in the Geneva Convention, and in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights? If they are not, then they have
forfeited their right to label other people in any disparaging way.
Do they understand that 90% of the people who die in war are
civilians, and that any pre-emptive, meaning non-provoked war, is by
definition an act of terrorism?
In the term "Islamo-fascist, let's look a little closer. The term
"fascist" was popularized by Mussolini to describe how corporate
interests could be combined with an authoritarian government. If
some American leader has assumed dictatorial powers by claiming the
ability to disregard laws, and if he has given no-bid contracts with
billions of dollars to friendly corporations that he has an actual
family interest in, then he may indeed want to transfer the word
Fascist as far away from himself as possible, but we see through this
with our free minds. The historical shoe fits.
The fact of our condition is that we have two governments. We have a
faceless government that has secret prisons, its own rules, a
suspension of all our rights, and its own armies and budgets. It
laughs at us when we think we can tell it what to do. It has been
around for some time –certainly since the early 60s when we started
losing the leaders who actually represented our values.
We do have another government. It is the one where we have debates,
campaigns, elections (more or less), and where the winners play at a
Congress. This government has fallen in power as the other has
risen. I have lived long enough to see the dimming of lights in the
Capitol building. These people no longer much represent you and me.
The mainstream news keeps us from seeing the truth of this. We are
expected to be happy with our wonderful cars and your wonderful music
players and our fancy phones that can message back and forth. But we
have been left without anything of our own to say that is not a
rewrite of a commercial.
If you are not hearing the truth from the mainstream media, it is
because there is a game here, and one of the main rules of the game
is that you have to pretend we are still a government of, by and for
its people. If you cannot live in that fantasy, you will be
ostracized as a nut case, a fanatic, a fringe element. That is part
of the control mechanism that you have to understand if you would be
free to think for yourself.
If, to create an absurd example, the family of George Bush were
investors together in oil partnerships with the Bin Laden family, or
if George Bush Senior were a part of a company like the Carlyle Group
that has profited greatly from the Iraq War, would those stories be
all over CNN and in the front pages of newspapers, or would those
stories violate the fantasy and therefore be ignored? Well, those
stories happen to be true, so judge for yourself if we have a problem
with the news media.
How, indeed, do we bring order into the chaos of our lives once we
reject the lies around us? What is the thing that is not a lie?
Where is a fixed star by which we can navigate our lives through the
ever-warming waters ahead?
Somewhere, perhaps less than a mile from here, there is someone who
didn’t come to this lecture. This person took time out of his or her
day to go tutor a kid or help an older person—maybe to help someone
learn a needed language. There is the star. That person out there
has more to tell you than I do, for Love is the only truth that can
save us from lies and from anger and sad living. The real division
of politics in the world is between truth and love on one hand, which
call for the happy development of every human’s highest potential,
and the politics of fear and hate on the other hand, which are known
by exploitation and oppression.
You know which kind of politics is at the helm today. Maybe an
election or two can make some improvements. But, even so, we still
have this little problem with the other government, the one that
thinks it is really in charge of our lives and our world--the one the
world knows very well. When the storm destroyed New Orleans, the
wealthy neighborhoods suddenly had armed Blackwater guards at their
gates. These machine-gun toting men were from other nations and had
no familiarity with our Bill of Rights. They would have followed any
order. In that storm, we saw the future, if we will allow it.
Race is more important in organizing political differences than
economic class. So now we see a rise in racial conflict in America,
even in places where we wouldn’t have imagined it a few years ago.
The uneasy peace between the races in America made possible by the
post World War II boom is now moving into difficult times. It is
aggravated by the immigration issue. Can you see these issues
freely? You read the newspapers and the internet news sites, and you
watch the Daily Show, so you know just about everything. Or do you?
The U.S. Farm program, voted for by our elected representatives,
subsidizes the corn industry so heavily that American corporations
sell corn in Mexico for half of what Mexico’s family farmers can sell
it for. So half the farms in Mexico have gone out of business. Farm
families have migrated to Mexico’s big cities, where there is so much
poverty that all one can do is plan to sneak into America for decent
wages. They die on our desert borders. If it were easy to come and
go, how could we oppress them so easily? We have come to rely upon
this oppression for the smooth operation of our communities. But you
will not hear about this story on the TV news, will you? It is
outside the accepted fantasy.
The lies that surround us drive emotions and they drive unkindness
and cruelty, which are the signposts of misinformation and
misunderstanding. People who are not free of mind are not kindly of
mind. Kindness is freedom’s truest indicator. If you cannot stop to
help someone who clearly needs your help, you are not a free man or
woman. Your chains may have the glamorous attachments of
Blackberries and credit cards, but you are not free if your time is
not your own to follow your heart.
If you are looking for a strategy to improve relations between the
races, between straight and gay people, between religions, you must
understand that such peace is most achievable when there is
sufficient truth and prosperity to go around, and when there is the
kindness that is the product of those two.
To preserve prosperity in the world, agriculture and nature must be
saved. The coal plants must be shut down--all of them--within the
next few years. Gasoline-powered automobiles must be phased-out in
the next ten years. International trade must be largely curtailed in
favor of local production. These are the issues of a politics of
love, and they cannot go forward without some free thinking and some
knocking-down of immense lies now in place.
Free thinking, prosperity and kindness, so intertwined, make
cooperative living easier to achieve, and push intolerance away. We
have a lot of work to do, but, can you see it? Do you have a glimpse
Can you stand the idea of Google-ing a little more Noam Chomsky and a
little less USA Today? That would be a good beginning.
Churchill was correct when he said the empires of the future are the
empires of the mind. The big battle for the future is being fought
right now in your mind. Your freedoms are closing-in around you.
Our present circumstances seem to necessitate a new and democratic
international compact between those of you who are willing to do what
is necessary to be free people living sustainably, and to withdraw
our support from systems outside the compact. The compact can be
first between individuals, and then communities. It can later include
regions and nations. How will this be brought forth? Will it be
enough? I don’t know, but it’s all we can do. Certainly the
Internet, for as long as we can keep it, can get us started. But
don’t rely on it entirely, for it is no longer ours to trust.
You have the power to save your freedoms and your natural world.
Truth and Love, Courage and Energy, and a good organizing plan for
cooperative action are your great powers. Don’t look for leaders to
do it for you, unless you are standing before a mirror.
I’m 97, soon 98, so saying ‘good luck’ is about all I have left. I
have filled my life with adventures and good causes. They have not
been enough for the world, and they have not even been enough for
me. But I shudder to think of how bare my life would have been had I
not answered the call to action that you must now be feeling
somewhere in your hearts, as you have it felt before.
Thank you all very much. And good luck."