Wednesday, September 07, 2011

TEDxMichiganAvenue: Bringing the Arts Back Home

Back in May, I made a trip to Chicago to deliver a TEDx talk organized by David Zoltan. I was only able to stay briefly, because my stepson Jake was graduating that same day from Illinois State University with a degree in acting, and I had to head back. So it is nice to have an opportunity to see the speeches I missed. Here is mine, called "Bringing the Arts Back Home."


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Learning from 9-11

As we get ready to commemorate the attacks of September 11, 2001, I'd like to remind everybody about a video message that Osama bin Laden released just before the 2004 presidential election. At the time, pundits and candidates alike focused on defiance, but I would draw your attention to the following paragraphs from that speech:
So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. That being said, those who say that al-Qaida has won against the administration in the White House or that the administration has lost in this war have not been precise, because when one scrutinizes the results, one cannot say that al-Qaida is the sole factor in achieving those spectacular gains.
Rather, the policy of the White House that demands the opening of war fronts to keep busy their various corporations - whether they be working in the field of arms or oil or reconstruction - has helped al-Qaida to achieve these enormous results. And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and we are playing as one team towards the economic goals of the United States, even if the intentions differ.
And it was to these sorts of notions and their like that the British diplomat and others were referring in their lectures at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. [When they pointed out that] for example, al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America, in the incident and its aftermath, lost - according to the lowest estimate - more than $500 billion [current estimates: $1 trillion to $3.2 trillion]. Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars … besides the loss of a huge number of jobs. As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars. And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujahidin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan
Osama bin Laden didn't do that to us, WE did that to us through our typically militaristic response to this attack. Putting this into context: less than 3000 people died in the September 11 attacks; on the same day, 35,615 people starved to death around the world. What if we had put that $1 - $3 trillion dollars toward world hunger rather than invading Iraq (of all places)?

Yes, let's mourn those who were unjustly murdered on September 11 2001, but I also direct your attention to Wendell Berry's powerful thoughts in an essay entitled "Thoughts in the Presence of Fear," written shortly after the attacks.