Serious Question: Have You Done Everything In Your Power To Prevent This?

My childhood idol John Pilger has once again lent his incomparable voice to the task of warning humanity about the perils inherent in Washington’s bipartisan push toward new cold war escalations. In a powerful essay titled “How the World May End” that my little space here cannot possibly do justice, the legendary journalist describes the way Capitol Hill has moved humanity into the express lane toward extinction with its latest sanctions initiative, which seems to have been driven by the intention to provoke an all-out war. He touches on the way dissent is being silenced and propaganda proliferated, and on the under-appreciated fact that China will become involved in a conflict with Russia as well.

Pilger’s essay, which I strongly encourage you to read, concludes as follows:

One of Obama’s last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618 billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a “Center for Information Analysis and Response.” This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an “official narrative of facts” that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war — if we allow it.

“If we allow it.”

Will we?

This is a serious question, and I think it deserves a serious answer from everyone with access to information about the reality of what’s happening here.

Will we allow this march toward direct military conflict between two nuclear superpowers to continue? Are we not capable of stopping it? Are we quite sure we’re not far more capable of bringing this death march to a halt than we are perhaps giving ourselves credit for? Have we tried everything? If you look out the window next year and see a mushroom cloud growing on the horizon, will you be able to turn to your loved ones with tears in your eyes and honestly tell them that you did all you could?

I’m sorry I have to put so fine a point on it, but this is important. I don’t want to victim-blame by shifting responsibility for the manipulations of a few billionaires and their Capitol Hill lackeys, but these new cold war escalations are without question the single most dangerous thing happening in the world today, and they must be stopped. The risk of every organism on earth being killed has now been needlessly escalated, and it is very possible that everything depends upon our bringing that risk down.

It is easy to dissociate from our situation here by zooming in to a small-picture perspective and taking comfort in the fact that nuclear war might not happen, or zooming out to a big-picture perspective and taking comfort in the fact that this is all temporary anyway. I am encouraging you here not to do either of these things, and instead look around at everything you’ve ever loved, everything you’ve ever appreciated, everything you’ve ever found beautiful or interesting, and ask yourself if you’re really, honestly indifferent enough to the possibility that it will all disappear because of some idiotic geopolitical power grab by a few blinkered elitists.

There’s a beloved quote by American folk hero Utah Phillips, “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses.” At the time Phillips was talking about industrial ecocide, which is of course another grave concern, but the quote could be even more readily applied to the people marching our species into a new cold war after we barely survived the last one. We know who these people are. Their votes are on public record. Their donors are on public record. They have names, addresses, offices and phone numbers. Should our desire to be polite outweigh our desire to decrease the risk of everything dying in a nuclear holocaust? Is it worth becoming the first species ever to go extinct due to politeness?

This may well be the single most important question of our time. Even if you believe everything your TV tells you, that your elected officials have your best interest at heart, that the Russians really did meddle in your country’s electoral process, that Putin really is a monster and a threat — is it worth it? Is it? Have we ever tried just leaving Russia alone without pressuring them with proxy conflicts, manipulating the affairs of their neighbors, provoking them with senseless sanctions and continuously escalating NATO expansionism? Have we ever tried that to see what happens, and is it really worth the lives of your family, friends, species and world not to?

Is it worth it to keep continuing down this path instead of giving peace a chance? Whatever your feelings about Russia, Trump, government and nation, is it worth it?

Is it?

We can stop this if we want it badly enough. We can make a lot of noise and shove hard in the opposite direction. We can fight to ensure the survival of our species and of all terrestrial life. Look around you, man. Look at all that thunderous beauty. This is worth fighting for.

I love you.

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I write about the end of illusions.