The World Trade Organization protesters were correct about one thing; the rampant materialism that now exists everywhere certainly interferes with any other ethos which societies might live by. The perfect consumer is incapable of politics because he or she is fully programmed to react to pleasure and pain to the exclusion of any sensibility for dignity and honor. Perhaps it is time to question the success that degrades our happiness.
Lewis S. Cattarini
With runaway population, throwaway species, and fly-by wars, we may be entering the Last Ages. The litany of woes that we visit on ourselves and our planet stem from forming attitudes of ourselves as separate from that country, that habitat, that race, that class, that creature. I propose the following world pledge:
"I am part of a vital unity linking me with all humanity, and humanity with all life, and I resolve to act in accordance so that each may prosper and all may continue." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thirty years ago, on my 19th birthday, I departed McChord Air Force Base for Vietnam. I was led to believe that I was going to fight for democracy. The American people were being told the same thing. When I arrived, I found that we waged war, not for democracy, but against the entire Vietnamese people. It took almost 15 years, billions of dollars, 58,000 American lives, and 2,000,000 lives of Southeast Asians, before we discovered that we had been manipulated by a vast military-industrial complex, a compliant press, and cynical political demagogues.
People are being led down the same garden path in Colombia. The justification for U.S. military escalation in Colombia is that we are fighting drugs.
Secretary of State Albright has announced a $1.3 billion "aid package" for Colombia, already the third largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the world-most of it going to the military.
The U.S. military teams training Colombia's armed forces are there to "assist in the counter-narcotics effort." I was on one of those teams in Colombia in 1992. We trained, not counter-narcotics, but counter-guerrilla. People who recall Vietnam will find this familiar.
Stan Goff, retired Special Forces soldier and author, Raleigh, NC.