Dear Humanity, I Think We Should Just Be Friends
By David Swanson
Friends, fellow inhabitants of planet Earth, I’m not breaking up with you. I just think maybe we ought to see other species for a while. You like dogs, right?
I’ve spent so many years trying to talk with you, and you haven’t heard anything. So, we have the same conversation over and over and over. Let’s just take a little amicable break, OK?
What do I mean? Well, you say you’re mad at some scandal or party or personality, or you’re upset at something that costs millions of dollars. I say you could get tens of thousands of times that by cutting a few percent out of the criminal, destructive, unaudited military bonanza, or out of corporations that pay negative taxes, or out of the billionaires who tell you what to think. You say but without any military, an evil crazy group would “get you.” I say, how about cutting the U.S. military back to no more than four times the next most expensive one. You say, but think of the jobs. I say, there’d be more jobs, not fewer, but I wasn’t thinking of them because I’m not a sociopath. You say, so Hitler should have killed all the Jews? I say the United States government refused to accept them and gave not a single flying fuck who Hitler killed except that it very much wanted him to kill more Russians. You exhibit no ability to hear that remark and go back to the millions of dollars or some other bullshit.
I don’t mind this. Of course you don’t allow me to say it on U.S. television anymore, only foreign-owned networks. But I say it to large gatherings. And people claim they’ve heard it. I write books to give people a basic understanding, as far as I’m able, of war and peace and the lies that are told about them, so that each new lie can be rejected. And people claim they’ve read the books. And sometimes it seems that people are catching on. Other times, well . . .
Lately, it’s gotten much worse. Smart, courageous, educated people tell me that Donald Trump’s every move is ordered by Vladimir Putin, including things that have not actually happened, such as the U.S. withdrawal from NATO that people tell me occurred some time back, and including things Russia adamantly opposes, such as a coup in Venezuela, ripping up the INF Treaty, leaving the Iran agreement, sending weapons into Ukraine, sending troops and missiles into Eastern Europe, staging war rehearsals in Scandinavia, imposing sanctions on Russia, expanding NATO, demanding that NATO members buy more weapons, fighting several wars at once and building more bases, refusing to ban weapons in space, refusing to ban cyber attacks, building more nukes, etc.
People tell me that a pristine U.S. election system only slightly flawed by its total lack of verifiability, a communications system rotten to the core, bribery legalized, ballot and debate access severely restricted, blatantly racist removal of voters from the rolls, open intimidation of voters by a victorious presidential candidate, an electoral college that gives victories to losers, grotesque gerrymandering, enormous incumbent advantages, etc., has been sullied by some weird unrelated Facebook ads from a foreign nation whose former ruler Boris Yeltsin was properly installed for the good of humanity by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Do they believe it? I’m afraid they struggle to believe their own horse manure, that they may in fact need a war in order to properly do so, and that we may not survive that war. If I believed that Vladimir Putin had secretly made Trump president, and that the Democratic Party screwing its strongest candidate out of the nomination was just a lucky coincidence for the Evil Master Mind in the Kremlin, I’d be protesting at the Russian Embassy every day. I’d go to Moscow and protest there. What are Russiagate believers doing? They’re waiting for the U.S. government to investigate itself. How many times has that worked?
But, then, when do you, humanity, ever act on your supposed beliefs? If I believed that life was infinitesimally short and meaningless in comparison with an infinite and joyful magical life after death, I’d damn well be signing up to clear land mines, while demanding that governments lay more of them. What are you doing? You’re strategizing to add minutes to your actual life through a diet of any sort of food, no matter how revolting.
Would you believe your beliefs if yet another war accompanied them? Quite possibly. Do you think so many of you have clung to Iraq war lies or Libya war lies or any other war lies just because you have found them so convincing? Of course not. It’s because without them, your beloved government, which you despise except when it’s waging war, would have committed mass murder for no good reason.
Does anyone really currently believe that secret cells of Hezbollah in Venezuela are plotting to overthrow the U.S. government and restrict your freedoms? Or that the U.S. government is trying to provide aid to Venezuela while simultaneously imposing brutal sanctions on Venezuela? Or that when John Bolton blurts out that it’s all about oil, he’s just being sarcastic to make fun of all those marginalized commentators who harbor a twisted obsession with actual facts? Yet, once a war comes, you know that yall will do your best to believe all this garbage and more.
Your problem, if I may be so bold, is part nationalism, part partisanship, part militarism, and part just plain simplemindedness. This doesn’t mean that I’m some sort of genius who never has to correct his blunders. It just means that I notice in you, humanity, a fanatical devotion to oversimplifying anything you can. If I say a bad word about Russiagate, I’m supposed to deny that Trump has attempted to make corrupt financial deals in every corner of the globe including Russia. If I say a bad word against Trump, I’m supposed to love NATO and the wars on Syria and Afghanistan. If I say a good word about Trump, I’m supposed to love fascist demagoguery and border walls.
Life is complicated, people. It’s more complicated than I grasp, I’ll readily admit. But I don’t devote my energies to actively trying to pretend the world is as simple as a cartoon or a Fox News broadcast for fucksake. Sometimes you have to recognize that something is only partly true. Sometimes you have to agree with lunatics. “You can’t help people being right for the wrong reasons,” said Arthur Koestler. “This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of political purity. It is an expression of a lack of self confidence.” Let’s work on our confidence, humanity. Let’s meet for coffee in a year or ten, if we’re still here, and if coffee is still here. I do love you.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
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