Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


David Swanson: Safe Passage On The Earth

Safe Passage On The Earth

By David Swanson

In 1975 Dorothy T. Samuel published "Safe Passage on City Streets," a book that examined the state of mind and behavior of people who tended not to get attacked on city streets or tended to walk away unscathed. She found that the safest people were not those who focused on the danger, not those who walked in fear, and not those who carried weapons – which, as often as not, were turned against them. The safest people – though there was no guarantee – were people who put danger out of their minds and when attacked reacted with surprise, indignation, or humanity.

A response of "Hey, wow, it's cold out, why don't you take my coat," or "Absolutely not, now put that gun away," tended to protect people much better than a response of "Oh God, don't hurt me," or "Get back, I've got a knife." Attackers, it turned out, were often more scared than their victims, were easily thrown off guard and bewildered or altered by kindness and decency. Reactions of fear or of violence, however, tended to fit right into their attacking frame of mind and encourage them. Ultimately, however, Samuel found that the best protection was for more people to walk the streets and for them to talk to and know each other.

It occurs to me that if we think of the planet as a city street at night, and if we think of the citizens of other nations and religions, cultures and races, as potential attackers, then the United States in our foreign policy is behaving exactly wrong, is doing everything that one would expect to encourage attacks. We've labeled nations and religions and races as evil and as likely terrorists. We've instituted all sorts of absurd rituals in airports and on the evening news aimed at heightening our fear. We've built up weaponry and challenged others to attack us or to "bring it on." We've isolated ourselves and refused to talk to the leaders of other countries, offering them violence as the only form of communication that we will understand. And, ultimately, we've done everything we could to break down international community, cooperation, and understanding.

If the rulers of this country wanted it to be attacked, is there anything they would do differently from what they are doing right now?

If they do not want it to be attacked, then please explain to me the value of pushing Europe to build a missile shield against an imagined threat from Iran. Explain to me what would be gained by testing massive weaponry in Nevada. Tell me what is accomplished by announcing every 15 minutes in the subway that people should watch out for suspicious activity. Enlighten me as to the value to be found in neglecting the presence in foreign lands of starvation and AIDS but addressing the presence of oil as a dire emergency. Explain to me how guarded military bases and private clubs and ostentatious wealth paraded before the noses of other people in their cities makes anyone safer.

We are behaving nationally like a terrified victim looking for trouble and waving a knife around as a challenge for a fight. We don't feel any safer, but we grip the knife tighter as our fear grows. And once we're attacked – as our behavior makes quite likely – we'll trade the knife in on a Humvee and guns.

Or we'll change our way of thinking.

************* – ORIGINAL URL

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news