May 20, 2022 Veteran activist Greg Coleridge speaks at Cleveland Peace Action’s 2022 Annual Meeting, on the challenges and opportunities for change in an interconnected world. A lively Q&A follows Greg’s talk, including ideas on Inspiring and sustaining our activist energies.
Tag Archives: peace
They Don’t Want You Looking Into This
Russell Brand comments on my Common Dreams article, War Is (Still) A Racket: Corporate Power and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The Depth of Change
Selected articles, columns, editorials, letters, sermons, poems, talks and testimonies over four decades on economic, environmental and social justice; democracy; foreign policy/peace/nonviolence and systemic change/movements. Their analysis and calls to action are as timely today as ever.
Greg Coleridge is Co-Director of the national Move to Amend coalition, which works to enact a Constitutional Amendment to abolish corporate constitutional rights (“corporate personhood” for short) and political money defined as First Amendment-protected “free speech.” He previously worked for more than three decades for the Midwest Region of the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio where he educated, advocated and organized with diverse individuals and organizations at the local, state and national levels employing a range of strategies and tactics on issues of peace/anti-war, nonviolence, international trade, economic conversion, local and federal budget priorities, monetary reform, housing, privatization/corporatization of public services, hunger, jobs, poverty, local currencies, alternative media, toxic/radioactive pollution, campaign finance reform and corporate power/rule/rights.
301 pages. $14.95
Table of Contents
More defense dollars only worsen inflation (letter to editor) 4
North’s secrecy was objectionable (letter to editor) 5
KSU/May 4 and the need for action (letter to editor) 5
The Future of National Security and Economic Conversion (talk) 6
Agenda for the peace builders (editorial) 9
Spirituality, Nonviolence and Social Change (sabbatical report) 12
Nonviolent Revolution (sermon) 21
Bosnia: Military Intervention Is Not The Answer (letter to editor) 26
A few resolutions for public officials (letter to editor) 27
Gift-buying for the conscientious (column) 28
Visions of an alternative “Contract” for America’s cities (editorial) 31
Nuclear weapons still addictive (column) 34
Submarine floats as cities sink (column) 38
No need for bombs – Japan on verge of surrender (letter to editor) 41
U.S. must learn from the past (column) 42
Do we live to U.N. standards (column) 47
Put people power back on agenda (article) 50
GM strike localizes world woes (column) 55
The Costs of Technology (article) 59
U.S. takes easy way out on China (column) 63
Our Friend John (poem) 69
Has time for HOURS finally come? (column) 70
Apathy Funeral Service (talk) 73
Ethics and the Culture of Development: Building a Sustainable Economy (Cuba conference report) 75
Change in Relationship to Corporations Urged (talk) 78
Yes-Simple math: Less money, more democracy (editorial) 80
A Call for Help for Uniontown, Ohio (article) 82
Public Hearing sponsored by Robert Martin, U.S. EPA Ombudsman, on Industrial Excess Landfill (testimony) 84
Democracy, Corporations and the World Trade Organization (article) 88
Wrong Turn in Ohio: A wake up call for other states (article) 90
Rumors of USA Democracy Counterfeit (article) 92
Personal Reflections on 9/11 (letter) 99
Corporate Invading and Escaping (article) 103
Evolution and Social Change (article) 107
U.S. Hypocrisy and Immorality (talk) 108
The Invasion has Begun…But so has the Resistance (spoken word) 109
Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future (forward to booklet) 113
Mantra of US Mainstream Left (article) 117
A Fraction of Democracy (article) 117
Statement on Department of Defense Spying on AFSC 120
Request to Rep. Dennis Kucinich to Introduce Legislation Renaming Department of Defense to Department of War (letter) 122
Closing Remarks at U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) National Conference 123
Ranting and Raking on Eminent Domain (article) 129
Keynote address at Martin Luther King Community Gathering 133
10 Democratic Reasons to Oppose Senate Bill (SB) 117 (article) 140
Electronic Voting Machines Undermine Democracy (testimony) 143
Auctioning the Magna Carta (article) 145
The U. S. Constitution: Pull the Curtain (article) 145
Reducing the Power of Juries (article) 155
The Spirit of Change (article/play script) 156
Municipalizing Democracy (article) 163
Democracy Taxed (article) 165
Local Economic Self-Determination (workshop presentation) 167
Six Ways Corporations Profit from War (article) 173
Pillars of Peace (sermon) 175
Opening Remarks at United National Action Conference – on Iraq and Afghanistan 179
Letter to Senator Sherrod Brown on BP Deepwater Horizon and IEL disasters 181
“One Nation” March Organizers Should Remember Coxey’s Army (editorial) 183
The Rigor of Research and Fundamental Monetary Change (talk) 186
Fracking issue tests citizen’ authority (letter) 192
Testimony on Ohio’ New “Plunder Law” – House Bill 193
Corporate Power: The Legacy of Santa Clara (talk) 196
Banking Political Influence (talk) 198
Lessons from Past Movements that Inform our Current Movement (talk) 202
Participation in our undemocratic democracy (article) 204
Organizing for the Right Rights (article) 204
Corporate Chameleons (article) 208
Four Problems with Billionaires Privatizing American Science (article) 209
The Wrath of Steinbeck: Corporate Personhood (article) 210
Supreme Authority: The Growing Power of the US Supreme Court and Democratic Alternatives (article) 212
Different problems. The same solution.(article) 220
Ronald McDonald is not a person (article) 223
Pope Heats Up Climate Change Debate (article) 224
Trans-Pacific Partnership would be assault on U.S. democracy (letter to editor) 225
Monetary History Calendar (intro) 226
Flint’s Water AND Democracy Crisis (article) 227
Testimony on Political Campaign Contribution Limits 228
3 lessons from organizing for justice during the RNC (editorial) 232
Trumped Up Democracy: 10 Reflections on the 2016 Elections and the Future (article) 234
Commit to seeking common ground (letter to editor) 240
This is What Democracy in Ohio Looks Like! Ohio’s Self-Determination “Infrastructure” (intro to directory) 241
Hacked Off by the Electoral College (article) 244
Democracy Convention (article) 249
With Democracy So Sick, Medicare for All Will Be Uphill Battle (editorial) 252
Winter Solstice (article) 256
Big Love Fest Mentors of Love (talk) 256
Don’t Let the Ability to Rein In Corporate Rule Slip Through Our Hands Like Water – Time to Amend the Constitution Now! (article) 258
Knowing history is key to saying no to corporate rights (article) 262
Remarks at Uniting Families Rally 265
Curing the cancer of the body politic (article) 267
Holy Toledo! (article) 270
How Wealth RULES the World (book review) 271
The Declaration of Independence, Then and Now (quiz) 272
Move to Amend poems 274
Simply reversing Citizens United will not stem the tide of corporate money polluting politics (editorial) 276
Ending the Monetary Pandemic (article) 278
Changed “Modes of Thinking” Needed to Create Real Justice and Livable World (editorial) 285
The U.S. Constitution is hopelessly outdated. It’s time to re-envision it (article) 288
Big Tech Shouldn’t Be the Arbiter of Our Free Speech Rights (editorial) 291
Thank you Darnella Frazier (article) 294
FirstEnergy should be put out of business (editorial) 295
Kent “Democracy Day” Public Hearing (testimony) 296
Holistic Solutions to Holistic Problems (talk) 298
ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHY 307
Changed “Modes of Thinking” Needed to Create Real Justice and Livable World
U.S. must learn from the past
Today, the 74th Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, seemed an appropriate time to share this. Also relevant since it references the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum just outside of Dayton, a community also in the news for last weekend’s horrific violence. Violence begets violence. This is an entry in my forthcoming book/anthology of writings, speeches and letters.
U.S. must learn from the past
Ohio Observer, August 1995, Vol 2,#8
Just inside the Wright Patterson Air Force Base museum near Dayton is a placard with the famous quote from George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Its implication is that we must accurately record and analyze historical events to completely understand current times and widely envision the future.
The 50th anniversary of the end of World War II this month is a unique opportunity to reflect, analyze, understand and envision – to prevent a repetition of the past. This opportunity is being squandered, however, by those who manipulate history, distort lessons and defend an illegitimate political, economic and military status quo.
Touring Wright Patterson museum
Santayana’s quote was on my mind touring the Air Force Base museum a few years ago. The display of planes, bombs and missiles was technically impressive. The interpretive descriptions of why all this stuff was produced and used during World War II, the Cold War and after were socially and morally unimpressive.
No space was provided for an examination of whether all these weapons had to be used to achieve the desired ends, whether non-military alternatives may have been more effective, what the production and use of weapons did to people, economies or natural environments both at home and abroad, why so many weapons were targeted against civilians, and whose “interests” were being “defended” when these weapons were used all over the globe.
Especially disturbing was the exhibit showing replicas of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” the first two atomic bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945. The display matter-of-factly stated they were used to save hundreds of thousands of American lives and to bring an end to World War II.
This version of history is popular at the moment. The U.S. military and most mainstream journalists, intellectuals and politicians defend the use of the atomic bomb. President Clinton has said that Truman “did the right thing.” And “I do not believe that on the celebration of the end of the war and the service and sacrifice of our people, that this is the appropriate time to be asking about or launching and major re-examination of that issue.”
This view to sanitize, repress and ignore history is shared by supporters of the current Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima) exhibit at the Smithsonian. The text next to a big picture of the crew (including Ohioan Paul Tibbets the pilot) reads in part, “[The atomic bombings] destroyed much of the two cities and caused many hundreds of thousands of deaths. However, the use of the bombs led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made unnecessary the planned invasion….It was thought highly unlikely that Japan would have surrendered unconditionally without such an invasion.”
Other museums and histories
A few years before visiting the Air Force museum, I toured Cecilienhof, site of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, in East Germany and the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. Seeing both museums, meeting people in both places and having access to new information as a result of both experiences shed light on a very different version of the history of the end of World War II, the Cold War and lessons we should have learned from these periods.
By the time Truman, Stalin and Churchill met at Potsdam in July 1945, Japan was a militarily defeated country. Japan was incapable of stopping U.S. saturation bombings of scores of Japanese cities. Tokyo alone had been especially hard hit; one raid alone caused 100,000 casualties, made a million people homeless and nearly destroyed 250,000 buildings. Civilian bombing raids became so frequent and effective, according to Stephen Shalom in the current issue of Z magazine, that Secretary of War Henry Stimson expressed two concerns to Truman; “First, because I did not want to have the U.S. to get the reputation for outdoing Hitler in atrocities; and second, I was a little fearful that before we could get ready, the Air Force might have Japan so thoroughly bombed out that the new weapon [the atomic bomb] would not have a fair back-ground to show its strength.” What compassion!
The U.S. had broken Japan’s military code long before Potsdam. Truman knew that Japan was looking to end the war, even offering to end it at the German summit. Their only condition was the face-saving gesture of retaining their emperor as symbolic leader.
Truman ignored the peace overtures, insisted that the final Potsdam agreement demand that the Japanese surrender unconditionally, and signed the order to bomb Hiroshima, a marginal military target.
Many high-ranking military leaders opposed unconditional surrender and/or the use of the atom bomb altogether, including generals George Marshall, Douglas McArthur and Hap Arnold and Admiral William Leahy. General Dwight Eisenhower said, “Japan was already defeated and dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”
The bombs were dropped anyway. The explosions, fires and radiation resulted in 210,000 deaths (mostly civilians) by the end of 1945 and 340,000 deaths by 1950. Radiation-resulted deaths still occur today.
Every year, the names of new casualties are entombed in the cenotaph at Hiroshima’s Peace Park.
Following the bombs (and following a 1000-plane assault on Tokyo on August 14 – never noted in the mainstream Western press), Japan offered officially to surrender on condition that they could retain their emperor. The U.S. agreed.
Why did the U.S. agree to the same terms of surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Japan offered earlier? Because the bombings were not the last act of World War II but the first act of the post-war Cold War against the Soviet Union.
The A-bombs were a message to the Soviets – don’t mess with us in a part of the world that we want as part of our expanding empire.
At Potsdam, Stalin reaffirmed the Soviets’ commitment to enter the Pacific war in early August (they officially declared war on Japan on August 8).
The U.S. feared Soviet presence in the Pacific would threaten their post-war influence on Japan, China, Korea and other nations in the region – many of which were already sites of U.S. military bases and “friendly” to U.S. business (corporate) interests.
Certainly the momentum of the Manhattan Project, which developed the bomb, and racism against the Japanese were factors in the bombings.
But the power to control and contain the Soviets was a huge factor, verified by Secretary of War Stimson: “Once its (the atomic bomb’s) power was demonstrated, the Soviets would be more accommodating to the American point of view. Territorial disputes would be resolved amicably.”
In his recent book, With Hiroshima Eyes, Joseph Gerson, regional program director for the American Friends Service Committee in New England, describes how the U.S. has used “the bomb” diplomatically to promotes its goals of foreign military access and to exploit foreign raw materials, labor, markets and technology.
The U.S. has used nuclear weapons many times since 1945 – in the same way that a person with a gun “uses” it by pointing it without firing in a confrontation or “uses” it by just having it on one’s hip. Such nuclear threats and intimidations have been directed mostly at Third World nations – China, Vietnam, Iran, Jordan, Cuba, Guatemala, Yugoslavia, Korea and Iraq.
“Nuclear extortion” has been used by every President, both Republican and Democrat, since Truman as an efficient way to protect and expand U.S. global power and economic privilege – powers and privileges that are ever more concentrated at the top.
George Kennan, the main architect of U.S. foreign policy following World War II, said in 1948: “We have 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population…Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.”
“Discriminate Deterrence’ is the current foreign policy doctrine upholding the U.S. commitment to “nuclear extortion” and “straight power concepts.”
Prepared in the closing years of the Reagan administration, refined and affirmed under Bush and Clinton, Discriminate Deterrence acknowledges that the U.S. can no longer control every development or region in the world. The U.S. must now focus on, as Gerson reports, “control over three regions: the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.” The Pentagon must “continue modernization of its nuclear arsenal,” since as former Clinton Secretary of Defense Les Aspin said, the “post-Cold War world is decidedly not post-nuclear.”
Learning from history
The French philosopher Albert Camus said, “All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and make a choice.”
The intentional mass murdering of civilians by the U.S. during World War II, widespread radiation experiments on civilians both during and after the war, and 4 trillion tax payer dollars spent for nuclear weapons programs are all historical realities we as a nation have yet to seriously reflect upon.
American oppression, injustice and domination have always been easier abroad than at home because they have been for the most part not experienced by the average citizen and not covered by the corporate-controlled press.
Add to this our cultural impediment to reflect on anything and our almost exclusive celebration of the present and it’s easy to understand why the U.S. empire, built on historical evils, remains.
People can be made to believe anything by controlling their sense of history.
It is far easier to reflect on the history of 50 years ago in Japan. For one, they suffered more in terms of casualties and physical destruction. For another, the hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) have made sure their political and moral witnessing on behalf of nuclear abolition and peace have been notices by those in power.
Our continuing challenge as a people of conscious and as a nation is to acknowledge not only the wonderful elements of our past but also the evil.
It takes a great deal of moral strength to admit one’s own evils and wrongs, to learn from them, to apologize for them and to work to eliminate them.
Until we do so, Santayana’s warning about the importance of learning from the past remains highly relevant.
‘A drum major for justice’: Lorain city leaders, people of faith share Martin Luther King Jr.’s lessons
Still identified as working for the American Friends Service Committee, despite our program closing almost 2 years ago…
Should the american constitution be rewritten or reinforced?
Portion of remarks at Labor Fightback Network conference
July 22, 2017 | Cleveland, Ohio
People’s Justice & Peace Platform
Agreed to at the People’s Justice & Peace Convention
July 15-17, Cleveland Ohio (prior to the Republican National Convention)
3 lessons from organizing for justice during the RNC
NEWS & COMMENTARY, BY GREG COLERIDGE, July 27, 2016
People in Cleveland, Ohio gathered for three days to demand peace, social justice and non-violent solutions
27.07.2016 – Cleveland, Ohio, United States – Evelyn Rottengatter