“With Great Power…”

By Rick Banales

11/13/06 "
Information Clearing House" -- -- -I watched the returns come in Tuesday night the way I watch a scary movie – through the fingers of my hand. And as the evening went on, it seemed like the shift that we had all hoped that the country would take was finally happening, like all of a sudden the people who were too busy, scared or brainwashed to listen were all seeing what we had been seeing for years – the flag-draped caskets, the dismantling of the Constitution, the use of interrogation techniques that would have shamed the Spanish Inquisitors.

So today, Congress is in the hands of another party. We have to remember we have all been here before – this point of seeing a new direction in America, the unobstructed panoramic view that begins to get cloudier and more cluttered as the days go on. We all had high hopes for the country after Clinton was elected – it was surprising to me that he ended up being just a kinder and gentler Republican in Dem clothing.

I think the difference now is that we have all seen the brink – we have all been Frodo at the fiery mouth of Mount Doom. We have all seen how unchecked and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And we all have to look at this new change in the wind as a commitment to do the work we are called to do – to help make peace in the world.

We have recently heard from two women who, even with this new perspective in the land, are still out trying to make change, still out working to make peace a reality.

Sara Rich has had to deal with not only sending her daughter Suzanne Swift to war, but with the degrading, humiliating, and unconscionable way the modern Army treats its female soldiers.

Patricia Isasa was one of Argentina’s ‘disappeared’ – kidnapped and tortured as a 16-year old high school student. Instead of silently suffering her abuse, she initiated an investigation into the kidnapping that has culminated with eight suspects in jail and awaiting trial in Argentina.

Sara and Patricia are both asking the same questions – who is accountable? Who is holding the mantle of responsibility, who will have to give testimony?

We have to be as vigilant as Sara and Patricia – the country spoke this week, and it said in a loud and common voice that they do not trust this administration – not with their money, their oil, their children, the accused, the ballot box, Social Security, Medicare, bankruptcy protection…and they certainly don’t trust this Administration to come up with a half-reasonable reason to go to war.

There is a very well-known quote from the Marvel Comic Spiderman – an admonition spoken to Peter Parker by his grandfather: With great power comes great responsibility. Our mission is to make sure that the gains we have seen in the last week become real changes for the citizens of this country, and consequently the world at large. We have shown that we are the mainstream, and that we reflect the wishes and dreams that people voted for in droves.

The worst thing that could happen in a situation like this is for us to become complacent, to expect that people who were saying very recently that they would fight a better and more efficient war on terror will go anywhere near stopping this war mindset on their own unless we bombard them with the truth.

We have a group of people we have to deal with now in Washington who are just as in debt and beholden to the corporatocracy as anyone there before – our mission now is to use this springboard to make sure that they understand who elected them. It was NOT General Electric, it was NOT Halliburton, it was NOT FOX News – it was the people who expect that our representatives will listen to us, work for us, and make change for us.

We have to remind these people that health care, whether we are talking about community medical centers, Medicare Reform or Universal Health Care, is the responsibility of our elected officials to deliver – not the wishes of the Hospital, Insurance or Pharmaceutical industries.

We must let them know that a populace empowered with the truth is a great force, and that reinstation of the Fairness Doctrine, the return to actual journalism, and a quest to report the unfettered truth will only be a benefit to their own job experience and the American public as a whole.

We must remind these people that until we have the 900-year-old principle of Habeas Corpus returned in this country – whole, undiluted, for citizen and non-citizen alike, we really do not live in America.

And we must be vigilant in letting them know that war is a failure of the human condition – it is a failing of intelligence, of morality, of compassion, and of maturity. Not only do we need to stop this ugly war in Iraq, we must let them know that war is never an option in the future – this country needs to get on the track of speaking eloquently and clearly to the world at large so we can all get to the important work of beating our swords into plowshares.

We can all be proud of the work we did to make this past Tuesday a reality, and I look forward to pushing forward with you all.

  Rick Banales is a member of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (Los Angeles)

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