Top Leaderboard, Site wide
November 23, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!


Bronze Age Lost Its Cutting Edge Before Climate Crisis




Joan of Arc


Truthdig Bazaar
The Great American Stickup

The Great American Stickup

By Robert Scheer
$10.00

more items

 
Report

The People’s Bishop

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on May 7, 2012
AP/Stephanie Keith

Police arrest retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard during an Occupy demonstration in December. Packard was among those trying to access a vacant lot owned by Trinity Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

In connecting events old and new, at times the bishop drew on language from his writings. “It was pretty much the same route, only in reverse from the route we marched on Tuesday night. It seems to me emblematic of the errant course taken by our nation. I stopped on Tuesday to rest at the same spot I had rested as a marcher in 1985. I’m probably at the end of God’s list of coincidental places from which to be arrested: church property on December 17th and now the memorial for my fallen brothers and sisters on May 1st. But it all makes sense to me. The memory of my comrades from one time meets with the insistent truth of new comrades. That clarity conveyed hospitality of space. I felt required to pass this continuity on, so I ignored the police instructions to leave the park.”

I first learned Packard’s wartime story when I interviewed him for The New York Times a decade ago. He had been raised in a middle-class home in Long Island. He graduated from Hobart College in upstate New York, married, went to law school for a year and then heard ‘‘the hoofbeats of my draft board.” He enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War and was sent, after basic training, to become an officer at Fort Benning, Ga.

‘‘I was not reflective about it,” he said. ‘‘I liked the outdoors, being part of a troop, being a body in a platoon. I liked that feeling of corporate identity. I figured I knew the lifestyle.”

It was 20 days after he arrived in Vietnam in 1969 that he led his first ambush. As he stood over the enemy bodies he viewed them with a disquieting lack of emotion.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
‘‘In the war movies you see soldiers vomit after they kill for the first time,’’ he said. ‘‘I looked at those I had killed and knew it should have been overwhelming, but I felt only that I had accomplished my task. The Army trains you well to make you do extraordinary things under fire. There is no bravery on a battlefield.”

The cries of the wounded North Vietnamese or Viet Cong soldiers after an ambush had to be swiftly silenced so he and his men could avoid detection. Compassion was a luxury they could not afford.

‘‘I would throw area grenades at the wounded until they were dead,’’ he said. ‘‘I remember in one firefight killing a man who crawled toward me with his legs blown off. It was not pretty.’’

His first thought, once the shooting stopped—a thought he now finds strange—was how to tell others about the firefight. He began, in the minutes after an ambush ended, to give a coherency to the violence that took place around him, to make the chaos into a story, make it fit the movie running in his head.

He and his soldiers went through the pockets of the dead. Packard said he often found photographs, reminders that those he had killed had mothers, fathers, wives, children and lovers. The unit once discovered the picture of a young blond woman on a body, most likely taken from an American the North Vietnamese soldier had killed in an earlier firefight. Packard would collect the pictures he found on the bodies after each firefight and make a little pile on the ground.

‘‘I burned the pictures I found, although no one in my platoon saw me do this, because I felt that I had in my possession tokens of the lives of those I had killed,’’ he said. ‘‘I held in my hands something precious, something ultimate that I had taken away from another human being. I have often thought about trying to find the girlfriends or the parents of those I killed and write to say I was sorry.’’

Packard was a tiny cog in the great wheel of industrial slaughter unleashed by the United States in Vietnam. Villages were put to flame. Water buffaloes were shot for sport. Civilians were machine-gunned from the air. Grenades were tossed down tunnels where often women and children huddled in fear. Second lieutenants called in airstrikes and artillery rounds that turned thatched-roofed villages into infernos. The American military held the power to give or take human life. And with this power Packard and those around him became sick and demented. The world was turned upside down. Life was reduced to a vortex of pain or fleeting ecstasy. Human life was cheap. The gratification of the moment was the overriding impulse. Killing. Dope. Bar girls. Lies. It was all the same package of deceit and manipulation.

Packard spent a year as an Army lieutenant leading platoons. He and his men killed in each encounter from 12 to 15 North Vietnamese, Viet Cong or perhaps Chinese mercenaries. They did it clinically. He said he stopped counting how many young men and boys he killed.

‘‘But with about 30 ambushes and firefights you can do the math,’’ he said.

There was a part of him that liked to kill, that sought out the high of combat. War was at once revolting and deeply seductive.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Harold Stassen, May 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This man’s church is now at barely 1.9 million, the smallest it’s been since Coolidge was President.  It’s been “Celebrating our Diversity!” for forty years and yet it’s still barely 5% non-White and non-middle/upper middle class.  The average Sunday attendance is the lowest it’s been in nearly 100 years and the median age is 60 and rising.  The only ones even mildly interested in it are divorced/gay ex-Catholics and ex-Baptists/Penecostals tired of singing off screens and who have had enough education to realize that they just can’t believe in a week-long creation but not enough to believe that they can’t live without doing some singing on Sunday mornings.
  Barely 3% of the US population between 18-30 belongs to ANY mainline Protestant church.  This man, and his church, have delusions of relevance.  As does Hedges, who thinks that politics can’t get along without men who enjoy wearing purple dresses as clothing and large metal Roman execution implements as accessories.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Ed,

Obliviously I’ve caused you a great deal of anguish and embarrassment. 

Summon the courage to carry yourself in a more honest and direct manner.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Ah Ha ! Just as I thought. I nailed it…and on my first attempt.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 14, 2012 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

Max, Wow! You ceratinly are a prickly broad. Since you started this game of - Let’s play psychoanalyst and Mind Reader - let me take a crack at it. Remember, I’m not as expert at this as you evidently are…..Here goes. You are a taller than average female, right ? And thinner than most. Tell the truth now. ( Oops! Soory about that word ). Ahhh! Just a minute… it’s coming through…. Okay. I see. As a child you were either a bully or very much picked on. There. How’s that for a beginner? Be honest now. ( Ooops! sorry about that too.)

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 14, 2012 at 2:30 am Link to this comment

Ed,

Head up.  Without whining look people in the eye.  Be honest and direct.

Narcissists rarely care what others think.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Max, Thanks. I didn’t know you were a psychoanalyst. And based on almost no information about me at all…..simply astounding. During all this bickering, while you were trying every trick you could think of the get me float a trial balloon for you to shoot at, did you notice that I never asked you what your various positions were on anything ? Why? Try to understand this in case you get similarly frustrated in the future…. I don’t care what you think…. And where did I ever tell anyone how smart I think I am ? You remind me of a lawyer’s secretary I once knew who said that during a trial the lawyer should throw as much mud as possible at the opposition. Most of it might not stick, she said, but if there is enough of it, some of it will. The defendant will find it impossible to deflect all of it…..The “truth” has no place in your thinking and, as a matter of fact, is not what you are after. If this tete a tete had not become so vicious we could discuss why that probably is. But as things stand….I don’t care about that because I don’t care what you think. Have you got that ? Does that get through to you? Your infantile quest to draw me out by charging me with being afraid to speak is not,and will not, work for the simple reason that… I -don’t- care- what- you- think…..If it has become an obsession with you….you can find plenty of forums on Truthdig where I have laid out what you seem to be looking for.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Ed,

I prefer the more direct and honest approach. 

You’ve made every attempt in avoidance of answering my questions in any direct or succinct manner.  You now understand that I allow no one to get away with a. avoiding the tougher questions and b. any claim that the tougher (fundamental) questions are some type of device or scheme perpetrated upon you.  The truth, if we are to both be honest, is that your answers make you uncomfortable. - Not unlike Chomsky you end up feeling profoundly trapped by your own reasoning. Also, again not unlike Chomsky, you believe that if you only change the subject again and again no one will notice.

If I may make a couple of suggestions?  It’s not necessary to constantly tell others how smart you see yourself.  The next time someone poses a question concerning your beliefs simply be honest and direct.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Here’s a last attempt from the Whiner to Max the Heroine. You want an explanation from me concerning where I stand? Here’s what I recommend…..If you’re not already familiar with the following….read them,. A grounding in these ideas will give you an excellent idea of where I’m coming from…
  The State, Franz Oppenhiemer
  Political Parties, Ricardo Michels
  The Philosophy of Theodor Adorno
  White Collar and The Power Elite by C.Wright Mills
    ( also his essays recently collected and published )
  Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Kline
  Keeping The Rabble in Line, Chomsky
  The Psyhcholoy Of Power, R.V. Sampson ( important)
  War, Politics and Insanity,C.S Blumel
  The Politics Of War, Walter Karp
  Anarchism, Pennock and Chapman
  Rebel Voices, an IWW Anthology, Joyce Kornbluh
  Christian Socialism, John C. Cort
  The New Testament
 
    I would find it a bit difficult to summarize all the ideas therein contained into a format only allowing about 4000 characters, and would clearly not satisfy you even if I could….. But if you absorb even half of the above you will then have an excellent idea concerning the question you asked me to bite on.
  P.S.  When you are finished with these I will be happy to supply a sub list. There’s a lot more.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

Would you please stop whining about how I treat you?  If you’re as educated as you claim you surely know I have given, from the beginning, precisely what I have received.

Would you also reevaluate what it means to “shoot down” all you write?  Clearly we see the world differently.  Put your “Big Boy” panties on and deal with disagreements like an adult.  You surely don’t see me complaining how you “shoot Down” all which I opine.

-

You receive from me what you give.  Your real problem is on how you dislike that I give it back.  Period.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

My dear Max, Why on God’s earth would I ” when given the opportunity ” ( thank you profusely for the offer of this gift ) enter into a dialog with someone who has clearly demonstated that the only reason they want to draw me out is….NOT so that a little light may be shed on the subject, but merely to give the you a chance to shoot down everything I have to say?...  I recently went through this exact scenario with a crack pot on another forum. He had been hostile for some time and then one day asked, as kindly as though he were a sincere person, if I would explain my position to him. I was sceptical, but since he asked in a seemingly sincere manner, I complied. This gave him the opportunity to go ballistic concerning my character, and the chance to air what he thinks of as a viable political philosophy. I don’t use the term “crack pot ” loosely. This man says things like ” capitalism is socialism” . It is also labor. And “there is no difference between the left wing and the right wing. They are exactly the same”....Surely, you can see that I would have to be demented to engage you in a dialog based on the the approach you have taken with me. And suppose, just for the sake of supposing, that you were to be converted entirely to my way of thinking. Don’t you see? I just don’t care that much what you think…..So this is it for me, Max. You can shoot your final salvo now, but you won’t be hearing from me again. And isn’t it sad when you think that your efforts have brought about a unbridgeable estrangement with another human being. God bless.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Ed,

I would not hesitate for a second to tell you to your face precisely what I write here.  The result, so it seems, would be you getting your highly educated, sanctimonious, ass kicked up and down the halls of academia by a woman.

Next time, when given the opportunity, have the balls to answer a couple of direct questions.  ROFLMAO!!

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Dear Courageous Max, You really are a nit wit aren’t you. Your scurrilous remarks only go to prove I was right not to enter your spider web. If you spend a month thinking about what you just posted it may begin to dawn on you that there are people who are hep to your method of “arguing”, because we’ve been educated by a host of nincompoops like you in these anonympous forums. You have the balls to talk about courage but you say things to a person behind a wall of anonymity that you wouldn’t dare say face to face without risking a trip to the emergency room. God must love crazy bastards. He made so many of you.  Have a real nice day.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

Ed,

Without a doubt yours is the superior intellect.  We, meaning everyone on TruthDig and beyond, understand this due to your near constant reminders of the fact. 

Unfortunately you again opted to avoid tackling my direct question concerning your stated positions.  If only you possessed courage in equal measure to your intellect.

-

I have a final question.  In your extensive and unequaled education, did anyone in your travels utter the term narcissist?

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

IMax, Is it possible to have a discussion with you without you claiming I’m “vaguely aware” and I ” judge the world’s ills”. I have no intention of entering into a dialog with you since you don’t seem capable of a straight ahead, logical approach to civilized communication. So I will limit myself to this one observation about the loaded things you had to say about me…...My mention of the Stalin era gulags ” seems to indicate” that I am unaware of similar camps in other parts of the world. Really ? I used the Stalin camps merely as a passing example of the point I was making. I also din’t mention the nazi camps, Idi Amin’s atrocities, Attila the Hun or Guantanamo Bay. That doesn’t mean I’m only “vaguely aware” of them .“I’m not in the top echelon of intellects Max, but you’re in over your head with me….By the way, Oppenhiemer was writing about governments in general around the globe when he wrote, The State. He wasn’t talking about Rhode Island which you seem to be more than vaguely unaware of…..and to have a twerp like you denigrating a giant like Noam Chomsky takes a fairly large set of brass ones….So as for your asking me to enter your spider web….I pass.

Report this

By Edward Romano, May 12, 2012 at 6:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

IMax, Poor fellow. you’re in over your head when it comes to straight ahead logical thinking. So I’m not going to argue with you except to give you an example of your loaded way of proceeding.. You say I seem to be aware of Stalin era slave labor camps and that “indicates” that I’m not aware that these also exist in other countries. I used the Stalin camps simply to illustrate a point, because that is probably the most well known of those camps. I also didn’t throw in Hitler’s camps, Idi Amin’s atrocities or Attila the Hun. Does that mean I am “unaware” that those things existed? I am certainly no heavy weight intellectually, but you’re in over your head with me, buddy. By the way, Oppenheimer was talking about the entire world in his great book, The State…..not just the State of Rhode Island. ....And when a twerp like you has the balls to denigrate a giant like Noam Chomsky it would seem to be further proof, that those who think the intelligence of the human race is worth celebrating, need to give that belief a second look.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 12, 2012 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

You may be vaguely aware of labor camps in N. Korea but you will not become fully aware until you read that book.

Your mention of Stalin era gulags appears to indicate that you’re not yet aware of the same types of camps in and around Russia and China today.  You judge the world’s ills as caused by the United States.  Which, in reality, not unlike Oppenhiemer and Chomsky, ignores the politics and conditions over the entire remaining globe.

So I’m asking again, what is the point you’re making about the United States in particular?  Is it that you have chosen sides with those who oppose capitalism and, therefor, necessarily oppose The U.S.?

Report this

By colin2626262, May 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

John Zerzan also wrote: “The moral gesture is meaningless - anyone not get that?  It usually smells of the sanctimonious, the it-makes-ME-feel-good.”  I have to respond to this by saying no, I don’t get that.  The moral act is the only meaningful act in resisting oppression.  Hedges has written about that, how our acts in many cases won’t bring tangible results against the oppression we face from the capitalist state.  But we find meaning in being on the side of what’s morally right.  Only someone who has no faith in God will say that morality is meaningless.  As far as being sanctimonious, let’s define what that word means.  The definition of sanctimonious is not “making oneself feel good.”  Sanctimonious means putting on a show of morality, trying to make others think how good, how moral, one is.  Firstly, doing what’s right does make you feel good, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Secondly, those of us who have real faith, and morality, recognize that Jesus was speaking the truth when he said, “There is none good but one, that is, God.”  We are not good, but God is.  Our moral acts are eternally meaningful.  This is why there must be faith in God among Americans who wish to protest.  We must be believers in order to do those moral acts, remaining nonviolent and thereby being a legitimate force of resistance.  We have to believe in God in order to experience love and to love one another.  Those who don’t have a belief in God don’t appreciate love, aren’t interested in it, think it’s meaningless, and aren’t aware that it’s what makes us moral and gives us meaning.  Love is the truth of all existence.  The great prophets and social reformers all understood this.  They also understood that God is the source of love and truth.  Do we not get that?  Some of us do, thank God.

Report this

By colin2626262, May 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Emile Z, your disgusting imagery fits with your perverted idea of what faith is, showing you have no understanding of what faith does for those who believe in God.  If you understood what faith could do for you, you would be a person of faith yourself and wouldn’t tarnish beauty with your ugly ideas.  But as you said, that is just you.

John Zerzan (the real John Zerzan?): No, Hedges is not pathetic, and is definitely not on the side of the powerful.  Violence is what’s pathetic.  The powerful cannot deal effectively with nonviolence.  If we are going to have a movement, like Occupy, violent tactics are not welcome.  We have to protest peacefully, with love.  We are all brothers and sisters in God.  We can’t hate.  Violence is poison.  This is what Hedges preaches, and he knows better than most of us, having covered wars as a journalist.  I am not entirely in agreement with Hedges about the nature of religious belief, but, as he said, he is informed by the Gospel.  He knows how to act, how to live a moral life, and he knows violence, in the end, doesn’t help the cause of justice, since it only breeds more violence.  We can learn a lot from George Packard.  He knows we need to pray and that’s the only way to live.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Imax, I am familiar with the truly inhuman gulags of North Korea. It’s actually far worse than the gulags operated under Stalin… butI place “my attention on the evils of the United States”, because that’s where I live. This is the country I was brought up in. Where else would I spend my political life ?

Report this
ControlledDemolition's avatar

By ControlledDemolition, May 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

@balkas

Agreed.  In ZEN they say, Put no head higher than your own.  Nonetheless there’s a devotional side that lets one attune to certain qualities without becoming dumbed down or enslaved.

Bowing to the Buddha,
—CD

Report this
Airborne855's avatar

By Airborne855, May 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges often refers to “the church.” There are thousands of denominations, sects, and cults. Which church, specifically, is he referring to? Does anyone know? They all preach a different gospel and a different Jesus Christ. This problem began nearly 2,000 years ago. Paul warned about it. It has only gotten worse since then.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 10, 2012 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

Ed,

The gulag behind the goose-steps
A ghastly secret that the North Koreans have tried to hide for too long

Apr 21st 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition

-

What you will read from the above is illustrative of how hundreds of millions of people live within the walls of dozens of countries (China and Russia, for example) while you, Oppenhiemer, and Chomsky place all your attention on the evils of the United States.  If you read no other book in the coming year pick up a copy of Escape from Camp 14.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 10, 2012 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano, -  “Thanks for the condesension.”

-

Here’s the thing.  If you look closely you’ll see that I actually, literally, copied your sentence structure in my reply to your previous post.  It worked.  In doing so I was successful in illustrating just how condescending you appear in writing.  That level of condescension is quite disturbing, yes?

Your last post is identical to the previous.  With great condescension you elect to ignore a few fundamental questions in favor of various personal attacks and belittlement.  You failed to actually defend your theories.  You failed to even try.

P.S. Those who truly feel accomplished rarely feel the need to herald their accomplishments.  With that said, it’s nice that you can, and do, read.  I could suggest for you dozens of books and White Papers, however, my sense is you’ll not take the time.  <—How’s that for condescension? - wink

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 10, 2012 at 2:41 am Link to this comment

IMax, Thanks for the condesension. To answer your questions would require having you take several courses in the nature and history of capitalism and the foundations of the nation state - including books like The State by Franz Oppenhiemer, Political Parties by Roberto Michels and several of Noam Chomsky’s books on American imperialism. The questions you asked reveal that they are coming out of American government propaganda and myths you probably learned in school. I have no intention of becoming enmeshed in that spider’s web. Onward.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

Ed,

I’m sincerely curious.  Would you say you disagree with the following? 

Is it correct to say that China, Russia, Britain, Turkey, Iran, Cuba, Japan, The U.S. and Thailand operate with ideologies and each of these respective ideologies are centered around what is, respectively, best for each his own?  In the case of the U.S. one of these ideologies revolve around capitalism and open markets.  And is it not correct that every nation on the planet opposes those ideologies which disagree with their own?  Is it not correct to say that to believe otherwise, in you educated opinion, is to deny the history of the globe for the past 100 years or more?

No need for a knock down drag out.  So I’m simply asking, what is the point you’re making about the United States in particular?  Is it that you have chosen sides with those who oppose capitalism and, therefor, necessarily oppose The U.S.?

Report this

By Edward G. Amos, May 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In act that is moral should make us feel good.  If it
doesn’t then we should question the morality of what
we are doing.

Report this

By john zerzan, May 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges continues to be truly pathetic. Against resistance at all costs.
The moral gesture is meaningless - anyone not get that?
It usually smells of the sanctimonious, the it-makes-ME-feel-good.
Anarchist haters like Hedges and Jensen are on the side of Power.
John Zerzan

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 9, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

IMax, ....not going to get into a knock down drag out over this. Appreciate your stance and I agree that “the U.S. does not operate in a vacumn”. Neither does it operate without an ideology and that ideology is that what is best for U.S. society is capitalism. It will oppose all ideologies that disagree with this. Whatever will advance the U.S. ideology or give the U.S. a leg up as far as acquiring the wealth or resources of foriegn lands is what drives the actions of the government. To believe otherwise, in my educated opinion, is to deny the history of U.S. involvement in other countries for the past 100 years of more.

Report this

By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

ed romano,
THE FIRST CAUSE for ALL wars [perhaps even one supposedly waged for helen] is acquisition of
land and everything that’s on, and in it.
it sometimes includes the inhabitants of a conquered land as well.
however, even a strong empire like u.s cannot directly control or annex all lands it invades.
it can annex some, tho; such as hawaii, porto rico. many others it can only partially occupy.
but the final solutions or goals never changes: ownership of all of the planet by world
supremacists and and creation of an ideal master-serf relationship that’ll endure forever or until
end of life.
naturally, world supremacists are not going to tell us this.
instead of telling us that, they tell us they are on ‘missions’ to protect natives from abuses by
their leaders, for democratizing their lands, to establish peace; bring progress, enlightenment,
etc.
and it seems to me at least half of the world pop evaluates this as true; and in u.s probably 90% 
evaluates this rationalization as true.

Report this

By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

CD,
thanks for your response.
i suggest that we—in order to live in accords with nature, ‘god’, or nature-god—abandon
once for all time personal, ethnic, religious supremacisms.[nazism, fascism, idols, icon,
saints, great white fathers] 
for eons we have lived w.o. ‘leaders’, priests, organized religion, ‘nobles’, experts,
generals, banksters, police, standing army, judiciary, senators, other politicians, MSM, TV,
movies, etc., and we can now live and quite better w.o. all that.
in short, go back to respecting all people and their basic human rights [ to healthy food, to
life, gregariousness, shelter, equal protection, etc.] and being respected by all others.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 9, 2012 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

Het, Here we go again? NO, not this time. If you think we went to war in those places to “bring democracy to those people”, well…. I’m not going to be the one to burst your bubble.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Ed, - “I don’t think it’s necessary to agree with that in order to understand the economic causes of war.”

-

Yes.  Yet we will disagree that profit, in the strictest monetary sense, plays as the predominant cause of most contemporary wars.  At least no more a role than real clashes of ideology and cultures.

For example: It is my belief that the issue of oil has never been more about profit than it is about the respective national security of China, Russia, the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, India, etc..  The entire world of diplomacy understands how oil, in the strictest of ways, won WWII.

Point being, the United States does not operate in a vacuum.  It is impossible to choose sides by ignoring the goals and agendas of every player, less the U.S..  To concentrate so fully on the United States, I believe, is to take the entire globe (the dozens of wars being fought at this very minute) out of all context.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

Ed———the Korean War was fought for economic advantage? Viet-nam?
Afghanistan?

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

IMax, Wars are sometimes started by ego maniacs like Hitler, Napoleon and the like, but most wars, especially these recent ones, are fought for economic advantage. I know a man in my city who has been standing out on a busy corner every Sunday for many decades protesting one war after the other. In conversations I have had with him I have tried to get him to see that the wars he is protesting are the result of economic aggression. He is blind to this and thinks war can be eliminated or lessened if only we could convince men to be a little more peaceful. My own belief is that capitalism breeds war….indeed war is a large part of its life blood, but I don’t think it’s necessary to agree with that in order to understand the economic causes of war.

Report this
ControlledDemolition's avatar

By ControlledDemolition, May 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

@balkas

I acknowledge your point, but I take a different view.  I think to work from a place of compassion is closer to “uphold the Prophets” than being pious.  In fact, I hold atheists who are truly humanistic closer to the meaning of “religious” than pious drones who really only have a “thought” about doctrines, and split humanity into parts.  Something has to be breathed and actual.  So ultimately I differentiate between religion and mysticism—while granting that some, like Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, can be a mystic within the context and culture of a particular religious framework, but not really confined thereby.  The Prophets, you know, were not exactly wimps, and they certainly were not constrained by dogma and authority.

Peace,—CD

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Ed Romano, gaylordcat, George Packard.

All interesting points worth thinking about.  These exercises in just and unjust wars.  Laying blame and choosing sides.  There is, however, a much more fundamental aspect which, I believe, is too often ignored in these deliberations.  As Mr Packard will agree, politics, religion, and ideology aside men war because they are men.

There are roughly 200 nations and 6.5 billion people on the planet.  Acts of aggression between men, great powers, and cultures is a daily thing.  No nation of men is faultless.  Not in NATO and not in SCO.  In this context people and cultures will choose sides.

Report this

By rumblingspire, May 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

soldier.  lay the guns down.  come home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7zE-4NokFg&feature=related
“but the dark is still there”
“and you keep praying”

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

Gaylordeat, Excellent defense of a man who must have been genuinely remorseful in order for him to take the path he has taken since Vietnam. I don’t think anyone need fear for his soul. But the major organized religions, one of which he has aligned himself with, are equally responsible with modern governments for the wars that have been and are being waged. Why ? Because they claim the space where a moral authority is desperately needed, and then fail in that responsibility. I don’t know about the Episcopal church, but I do know quite a bit of the Roman. And the Roman church is currently waging an all out war on abortion which it claims is murder, but it has nothing to say when its adherents murder living people in a foriegn land….and to paint the picture blacker… the people being murdered are often other christians….These institutions are a perfect drag on humanity, and the sooner they disappear the better off the world will be.

Report this
gaylordcat's avatar

By gaylordcat, May 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

I’m always amazed at what people “know” or think they know. Many here condemn George Packard because he went to war and killed people, but few condemning him said they experienced war, a shooting war, where people termed “the enemy” came at you with the sole purpose of killing you. How many condemned Packard without knowing what he faced?

I have never been to any kind of war. Too young for Korea, too many kids for Nam. But, as I talked to George many times about Nam, I saw deep regret in his eyes, the same eyes that looked down a gun barrel into an enemy eyes and blew him away. If George had not blown him away, Hedges could not have written this story.

War is about killing. It’s what one does when one goes to war, voluntarily or not. As Patton was quoted as saying, “It is not your job to die for your country. It is your job to help some poor son-of-a-bitch die for his.”

War is senseless, stupid, immoral, horror, etc., etc. I wish we’d never see or hear of another. But war will not end, ever. Why? Because people like it. I dare say there is a rush when a soldier has a weapon in his hands and is stalking an enemy who is stalking him. And in that moment both feel more alive than they have ever felt. We cheer when the good ol’ US of A destroys an enemy. George told me that. I have to believe him because he did it. I never did.

War is money, too. Lots of it. Wars will always be waged because they are profitable, for a few, yes, but that few are the ones in charge of waging war.

War also helps politicians. A leader with a war, big or little, has a better chance of re-election than a peace-nick. Ask Jimmy Carter. Ask Reagan, if you could; he started his little war, Granada. Good idea, Ronnie.

Will George be forgiven his sin of killing people, innocent or guilty? None of anyone’s damned business. If you’re a Christan you know, or think you know, that your savior Jesus told you not to judge, lest you be judged. None of your damned business. God’s business. Is George guilty of sin? Who knows? You? Casting the first stone as a paragon? It’s easy to judge and condemn others. It’s vastly harder to love and accept, something you Christians are charged to do by your Jesus. Live by His words, or drop out of the church.

What Packard is, is a man trying to make it on his journey through life as best he can. Sound familiar? He went to war because he’d been raised an American and told that to defend one’s country is the highest honor one can attain. In a few days we’ll honor and praise our veterans, celebrate with fireworks, rousing music and honeyed platitudes. When we do, we’ll be praising many killers of innocent and guilty people. We’ll be honoring the crew that liquified people at Hiroshima. But Packard is an irredeemable sinner because as a kid wanting to help his country went to war and became good at killing for Uncle Sam?

Until you who condemn George Packard have walked in his boots and served as he served, shut up? You have nothing to say. You open your mouths and make noises, nothing else; you cannot make sense. Your opinions are rubbish. And any of you who are Christians who judge him, you are a joke unto the very God you claim to be a child of and an affront to Jesus whom you claim to be your Lord and Master. It is very possible He would turn His back on you and tell you to get lost. Yet again, if He was who you say He was, He’d forgive you. Feel better now?

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

EZ—there are several people playing professional sports quite willing to buy some
nice clean urine from a youngster and happy to pay more than a quarter for they
have faith that her urine will better serve their needs that will their own.

Report this
sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

“A Rebellious World or a New Dark Age?”

“Plutonomy and the Precariat”

(On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline)

by Noam Chomsky

(he talks about:

‘the working class’...

‘banks’...

‘politics and money’...

‘plutonomy and the precariat’...

‘toward worker takeover’...

‘climate change and nuclear weapons’...

and the value of the occupy movement…

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175539/tomgram:_noam_chomsky,_a_rebellious_world_or_a_new_dark_age/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=6c125b15ec-TD_Chomsky5_8_2012&utm_medium=email

(and also to help those who don’t know any better…
who try to make the occupy movement…
look like some kinda bad guy…
which it’s not)...

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

What is “faith”? Isn’t it a hope that the things you suspect lie behind the visible wall of reality really do exist? Faith can have a lot to recommend it, and seem to the believer to be a substantial foundation on which to base one’s life. But, no matter,it is still “faith”.....The age old problem with christian believers has always been that a majority of them claim to have faith and then proceed as though they had certainty. This results in spectacles like religious anti- abortionists attempting to get the government to enact laws that agree with their belief. It results in certain books disappearing from public libraries because the books don’t agree with things that are in the Bible. It results in attempts to teach children that evolution is not a proven fact…..The funny thing is that such attempts, and others like them, could not be more unchristian, and are the exact opposite of the way Christ told his followers to proceed in the world.

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

We on the Left have become an ineffective, whiny, complaining, finger-pointing kind of movement that hasn’t had a new out-of-the-box idea for a couple of generations

The man behind the curtain, Kalle Lasn, on Occupy and a resurgent Left.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, May 8, 2012 at 4:02 am Link to this comment

@ colin 2626262

How sweet. A little child’s smile.

To me faith is something that you have to be able to keep after you found out the next day that that cute little girl had sold you a glass of urine, and all the people you observed who didn’t partake knew all about it and were snickering at you behind your back.

When they talk about a “test of faith” I believe they are really saying “discovering what faith really means and what it truly entails”.

But that is just me.

Report this

By colin2626262, May 8, 2012 at 3:19 am Link to this comment

I recently was driving around, as I often do, and I noticed there was a neighborhood garage sale going on.  Lots of people were out and about, walking around, looking at what was for sale.  I happened to catch a glimpse of some children who were running a lemonade stand.  One little girl looked to be the main vendor, as her friends, or maybe they were her siblings, played around her.  Since I was thirsty, I pulled the car to the side of the street and got out, figured I’d get a glass of lemonade.  I also wanted to chat with the child for a minute, since I love to hear whatever innocent children have to say.  I came up to the little girl and asked her for a glass of lemonade.  It cost very little, only a quarter.  I thought she could’ve charged more, so I said to her, “You’re really nice, you know.”
  “What?” she said.  She didn’t know why I said she was nice, since we didn’t know each other, hadn’t ever seen each other before.
  “Yeah,” I went on.  “You’re nice because you don’t charge hardly anything for this lemonade.”
  “Oh,” she said.  “Actually, I wanted to give it away for free.”
  “Did you?”
  “Yeah, but my mom said I had to put a price on it.”
  “It’s so cheap,” I said.  “Anyone can buy a glass.  We can all afford it.” 
  “I know,” she said with a smile, while handing me a paper cup filled with lemonade.  All the other people in the neighborhood were walking by.  I stood there and felt how hot and muggy it was getting.  I was thinking all the people surrounding us could use a glass of refreshing lemonade, that they were probably just as thirsty as I had been.  But they didn’t want to take the time to stop and ask for a refreshment, didn’t want to spend the little amount it took buy a cup, and they didn’t feel like talking to the child who was offering them a drink and, more than that, a kind, loving smile.
  “Well, it’s their loss,” I thought, smiling back at the little girl.  “Thanks,” I said, and I was on my way, feeling inexplicably happy.  I was so glad I stopped to get that glass of lemonade and talk to that sweet child.  It was so easy, and it didn’t cost me anything really.  It brought me joy, and I felt love from the encounter. 
  In the same way, all we have to do is pray, stop and spend time with God.  This is how we connect with God.  This is how we have a connection with the God who loves us.  And this is how that connection we have with God is passed on to others, creating a spiritual connection, a connection of love.  It doesn’t take much time or effort, and it doesn’t cost us hardly anything.  We do have to go beyond our own selfish lusts and base desires.  It costs us that.  But the reward, in this life, and in the life to come, is greater than we can ever understand.  And we don’t have to understand it.  We just have to experience it.  Experience love.  That’s how we love: we pray.  We pray in order to love.  If we don’t pray, we won’t be able to love.  And if we aren’t able to love, our society will be a reflection of our selfish, hateful, immoral lives.  God is not simply a word, not simply a human concept, an idea.  God is the reality of love, in ourselves and in the world, but only if we choose to be connected to God, only if we choose to pray.  We were given free will.  We can make the choice to pray, or we can choose not to pray.  We can choose life or we can choose death.  Life is prayer, praying to the God who exists, the Reality of the Being of beings with whom we can connect.  God’s being is love, which we can find in our being, and we can love.  We can be children of God, as we are, and as we were meant to be.

Report this

By colin2626262, May 8, 2012 at 3:18 am Link to this comment

I was listening to a debate between Chris Hedges and the atheist Christopher Hitchens from some years back.  I found the audio online, then read Hedges’s column this week.  I shouldn’t have been classifying Hedges as hardly better than a skeptic.  His faith is real.  He has a view of faith that is ambivalent toward the actual existence of God, though.  His faith is, to some extent, synonymous with his ethical views, but he also sees faith as being within us, our own existence as human beings defining God’s existence, the existence of God unfolding itself within our being.  He sees faith as a process, doesn’t see God as a Being with an independent existence, or at least not an existence that can be understood by us, calling God a mysterious force of transcendence that also provides us with ultimate meaning.  Faith is our greatest concern, and yet faith is not just what we say we believe.  Rather, it’s how we behave, especially towards others, and more especially towards those who are in need of help and deserving of compassion, the poor, the oppressed.  Hedges understands that rationality only takes us so far, that there is much more to human experience than reason.  We also must have love, which is not based on reason.  Hedges doesn’t connect love directly to God, since he doesn’t share my belief in the personal God of love who is involved in every aspect of our lives.  He doesn’t seem to realize that the connection we have with God, our love for God, is the wellspring of our connection to other people, our love for others, all of whom have the same God, and the same capacity for love, within them. 
  This latest story by Hedges, with him interviewing an Episcopal bishop who is active in the Occupy protests, is a story I can relate to.  The bishop, by the name of George Packard, talks to Hedges about having to pray to the Lord.  How can we improve society?  We have to be connected to one another, to feel love for one another, as Jesus preached.  How do we do that?  We can’t just use reason and say to ourselves, “I’m going to be kind and compassionate.  I’m not going to be selfish.  I know it’s good to be altruistic.  I know it’s best to be loving.  I know it’s right to treat everyone as I wish to be treated.”  The truth is you cannot be a moral person with having faith in God.  You cannot put morality into practice without God’s guidance.  You may intellectually know what’s right, having learned moral values from religion or just from society’s laws and norms, but you cannot be an ethical person, that is to say, a loving person, a person who practices love both towards yourself and towards your fellow beings, unless you love God.  So the question is how do we love God.  How do we connect to God so that we can connect to one another and be good, kind, compassionate, loving people, creating a society that reflects our values?  I’ll tell a little story here.

Report this

By Marc Schlee, May 8, 2012 at 12:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

*******

Does he move diagonally or up and down like other Catholic clergy?


FREE AMERICA

REVOLUTIONARY (DIRECT) DEMOCRACY

*******

Report this
IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

Suspect in bridge bombing plot signed lease on Occupy Cleveland warehouse
Published: Saturday, May 05, 2012, 6:30 PM   Updated: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 1:18 AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio—One of the five self-described anarchists arrested last week for attempting to blow up a local bridge signed the lease for a West Side warehouse where about a dozen members of the Occupy Cleveland group live.

Report this

By Bill Davis, May 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fifteen people stood up to the masters of the universe’s representatives and
enforcers….only fifteen but a start.

Report this

By blackops2x, May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the bishop knows what is coming. I hate to say it, but you know the banks and the wealthy have taken over. But not only that, but you also have an entitlement class on the other side. One side wants handouts and the other wants all the wealth. But i commend the good bishop for being with the people.

Report this

By Art Brennan, May 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Brook.  My name is Art Brennan and I was arrested with your husband
along with a young priest and the members of our Veterans Peace Team.  I thank
you for your thoughtful response to the defensive questions of people who are
curious enough to ask and need just a little more help in understanding what
Occupy is about and how it can help us all, all of us, all of our brothers and sisters
in the world.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Argy——in some way, you are wrong. Americans
overwhelmingly believe that they stand for Truth,
Justice, Fairness, Decency.

many of them do….but these concepts are prone to
different interpretations in application to life in the
world…..some people think it unfair, unjust and
indecent that people don’t all have the same amount of
money. others think that it’s the inequality of
opportunity that’s the real transgression

Report this

By Argy F, May 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

I look forward to every Monday morning. Reading articles by Chris Hedges is a
true pleasure.

Some weeks I also read the comment section, if I feel resilient enough to
weather the inevitable vitriolic and/or incoherent messages that make up a
minority - albeit a sizable minority - of the posts.

This one is great article, as they always are.

Lately though, I am thinking that perhaps the great and heroic individuals that
are giving so much to the Occupy movement are unlikely to accomplish much.
My initial hopes were that the movement would be able to coalesce around
core principles already accepted and internalized by the vast majority of
Americans (Truth, Justice, Fairness, Decency) and the trick would only be to
quicken the conscience of those multitudes who already agree.

I’ve come to the point where I’m almost fatally convinced that the majority of
Americans AREN’T in sync with these core principles and as such - it is futile
and the movement for democratic and economic justice is doomed to fringe
status.

I hope I’m wrong.

Report this

By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

controlled demolitions,
i do suggest that pious people actually believe in their ulema, rabbinate, clergy, lamas and not god. and
they are much afraid of them.
for if one wld have god or a deity in one’s life why wld one need priests, churches [cold empty buildings]
also?
it beats logic or makes crazy to affirm a belief in god [most people evaluate belief in god as knowing
god—or so it seems to me] and then run to hospital, doctor when sick or to a priest when despondent,
troubled, or upset.
in any case, no one knows nor will ever know god. one can only guess that there is a deity. so whom
pious people obey then? bible, quran, torah all written by fallible men?
so again, whom/what believers obey? not god and that’s a certainty!

Report this
sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

new doors can open in a moment for our human common bonds…
they’re here beyond the mindsets mental walls get built upon…
and as we cross those thresholds leaving phoniness behind…
power-hungry profiteers still need deception to survive!...

Report this

By Free Thinker, May 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading the story of Bishop George Packard I was left with mixed feelings about the value of being called “The People’s Bishop.”

Certainly, joing a protest movement and being arrested for that by a so-called democracy, turned into a police state, is something commendable and fine.

But doing that after all the blood on his hands which he confesses of commiting in an earlier life, I am not sure that the loving God of Jesus and all of us is capable of forgiving in exchange for the little acts of protests he worked in a later part of his conscious-tortured life.

Couldn’t Bishop Packard be as smart and consciouncious as Muhammad Ali, who refused to be drafted into that evil war, opting instead to go to prison?! Compared to Bishop Packard, Muhammad Ali truly deserves to be annoited as “The People’s Imam.”

Report this

By jimmmmmy, May 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

The religious left is highly unstable and usually disintegrates, once the minister banks his first million bucks. It then morphs into the religious right.

Report this

By jr., May 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Impressive!

Report this

By jimmmmmy, May 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

An old Vietnam vet atoning for his “sins” so what. Calling him Bishop rather than lieutenant is rather annoying from several points of view . even though I agree with and admire him for what he has done and is doing. He has no reason to feel wrong about his military service, pushing religion is a far greater crime in the cosmic scheme of things . Stupidity is always punished.

Report this

By Textynn, May 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

End war now. These wars are insane and a waste to everyone except the One Percent who turn every war into a private for-profit business. Why did Bush and Cheney want war, because they did it to amass even more PERSONAL wealth…  Cheney being part of Halliburton and his wife a former CEO of Lockheed Martin.  Both major benefactors of the death for profit biz. The Bushes in finance and oil, making billions and acquiring the middle east oil resources for their oil cabal. 

The trillions of dollars we spent in the middle east killing and destroying makes me sick beyond description. We could have bought this oil for half the price and brought prosperity to these desolate places.

I don’t know why any country or group would allow themselves to be run by such low and criminally insane people. Not to mention sacrificing our loved ones.

What the hell is wrong with this country that we can’t wrestle the reins of power from the hands of these lowlife sick people.  The time is now.  And once we get the control of this country back into the hands of sane people, we MUST rewrite history in such a way that our children know what really happened and how to outlaw it for the rest of time.

OCCUPY WALL STREET
Reinstate the Constitution
End the Fed
End Fascism
End a debt based economy
Single Payer
Nationalize Oil
Free tertiary education

Report this
UreKismet's avatar

By UreKismet, May 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

So in Chris Hedges funny little word we praise murderers turned spruikers for the organised superstitions that have presided over most of the death, misery, lies & hypocrasies inflicted on humanity for the last two thousand years.
On the other hand according to Hedges, we must abhor the actions of young people whose lack of worldliness helps them eschew self-serving political order of any sort as they seek to rebuild our sick society from the ground up. Why?
Because they see the flaws in all that has gone before?  Or is it because in Hedges’ view the order of organised killing beats the chaos of individual expression?

Report this
ControlledDemolition's avatar

By ControlledDemolition, May 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Chris, great positive story!

Bit by bit, people of heart are going to get activated.  Let’s hope it’s sooner than later, inshallah.

@balkas:

NOT. “uphold the prophets” directive does not mean that pious christians should always obey their priests.  Au contraire.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Ed—- It hadn’t occurred to me that the churches referred only to Catholic houses
of worship…......and I certainly know little about the official positions of the RC . I
have noted that there’s been dissent within the RC about those positions.


Other churches and faiths have been more involving in opposing the Vietnam War
and in ending segregation and many other things near and dear to the
progressives.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Het, You are just trying to raise a little dust here, right? You don’t truly believe the churches have had anything relevant to say in our time do you?  Okay. You pushed my button.
  In the 1930’s the Roman Church published an encyclical, The Mystical Body Of Christ in which it   said that all christians are part of the Body of Christ in a mystical or spiritual way. This document could form the foundation of an understanding of our communal brotherhood that could go far in bringing the idea of peace among men into the social and political discussions of the past 50 or 60 years. But the church doesn’t believe any of this. Since the heirarchy must have some doctrine to preach, in order to justify their existence, they publish a social encyclical from time to time which raises the issue of things like economic justice and is immediatly put on a shelf and forgotten. I was raised as a catholic and was one into my thirties and forties. Never once ,let me repeat, never once did I ever hear anything preached that came out of the encyclicals. Never once did I ever hear any of the economic issues in the encyclicals by Leo X111 or Pius X1 even hinted at in any church. I attended catholic schools for 11 years and nothing written in the excyclicals was ever mentioned….  Concerning other issues, the church carefully picks those that do not bring it into conflict with governments. It does not confront governments concenerning economic injustice,for example, because that would interfere with the government’s partnership with inequity. It chooses to preach against abortion because it knows that governments don’t really give a rat’s ass if a woman has an abortion or not.( This is getting good isn’t it ?)
  During the Vietnam War we were treated to the spectacle of having a Roman cardinal in North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese catholics had a cathedral in Hanoi. Now, back to the Mystical Body Of Christ. On a daily basis we saw American catholics flying over North Vietnam and lathering their brothers and sisters with bombs, napalm and defoiliants. Catholic peace activists strove mightily to get Rome to speak out strongly against this blasphemy. Nothing doing. We did get a few wishy washy statements at internals, but nothing that would help to slow down the massacre. Toward the end of
the war, and under great pressure, the church said something to the effect that the war was immoral. All they had to do was take the next logical step and say ...therefore catholics cannot take part in it, and the conflict would have ended within weeks.It is relentless in telling women not to use birth control or have an abortion isn’t it? Why didn’t it have anything to say about its members killing live catholics in Southeast Asia ? Why? Because it would have given U.S. catholics, who were being drafted, the perfect out. They could have said to the government….“Sorry, my church says I can’t participate” but this would have brought the church into direct confrontation with the the U.S. government.
  The maintream christian churches are a millstone around the neck of humanity for this reason….they make claim to the moral center of society, but have abandoned all responsibility to that end. 
  Awfully, nice of you to give me this opportunity.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

to those who condemn George Packard for what he did forty years ago…... show
us your hands.

Report this
David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, May 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE, of Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard:

“As Carne Ross points out in his book ‘The Leaderless Revolution,’ people have lost their agency; they have lost control of their lives. The only control many have left is the control of their physical being. They place themselves in locations where they can demonstrate that they no longer support current systems of power.”
_____________________

It was the people’s strong and steady support of corporatism’s seductive systems of power that produced the conditions that Occupiers are now demonstrating against.

Amassed millions of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and atheists regularly congregated in solidarity together on every Election Day to devoutly vote for the corporate party’s money-manufactured really retrograde Republicans and deeply depraved Democrats.

As a result of this society’s religious dedication to the corporate party’s Republicans and Democrats, America has a degeneratocracy… a gangster government ruled society servicing the desires of a degenerate people.

The degeneratocracy doesn’t care how many times the police occasionally need to provide “exhilarating” experiences for Occupiers, by carrying away a dozen or more demonstrators like garbage men clearing away garbage from the streets… as long as the millions upon millions of degenerate people comprising the immoral majority keep voting to provide popular vote mandates for the sociopathic policies of the corporate party’s Republican/Democrat team, while the Occupiers also affirmatively support the degeneratocracy by urging the moral minority wanting a better world to refuse to vote.

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Report this

By gerard, May 7, 2012 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

Other creatures on earth are beautiful, glorious, impressive, incomparable, marvelous—and yet humans excel—for variety of responses, for ability to learn, for sheer folly and making wrong choices, for hideous wars as well as for loving care and intervention
  These days we suffer enormous challenges and a confusing number of possibilities—and millions of us in all different places, experiencing different degrees of good and evil, are confused.
  The choices are truly awesome. We can destroy ourselves or save ourselves—and at the same time each other. We can find ways or lose ways, or arrive somewhere in between. The human race seems trapped in some kind of spiritual amber.
  Civilizations have faced awesome challenges before, and faced up or not, by thinking and talking together or fighting together, based on their own limited experience (for all life is doomed to limited experience. Priests, teachers and leaders, thinking to do right even though they didn’t know for sure,  felt “called” to organize and begin teaching some few simple tenets they chose by virtue of will or wish, some wise and unwieldy, some crazed by odd enthusiasms.
  Most of these innovators lauded the special virtues of one particular human person—and then, perhaps at that moment of choosing, made a fatal error:  They chose to call that leading figure divine. In doing so they elevated him (occasionally her) above human level, beyond human ability, impossible to equal—and to that extent, irrelevant six days out of the week.
  This gave us all the open door to excuse ourselves from fully living.  We allowed ourselves to be lazy—to lie, to cheat, to kill, abuse and deny—not that we didn’t know we did wrong, but ... well ... after all, we are not up to truly living the ideals of this or that great representative. We are not truly the sons and daughters of an awesome divinity. No, no, we are only human—less than enough, flawed, sinful, evil. No matter. We were created insufficient to the need, and it is “not our fault.”
  Hence, when our evils accumulate and we have made our problemss too difficult, oh well! Somebody else will have to fix it. 
  And sad to say, it is only one short step from there to the belief that “we are rotten, no good, deserve to die, don’t deserve to live, are not as good as ... ” and a million other self-deprecating notions that fill us with hatred and disrespect for oourselvles and others.  And still beyond that, we willingly give up the faith that we ourselves can—indeed must—fix our own messes. That notion of “divinity” of religious leaders, of “special dispensation”  in reality “lets us off the hook” by creating an impossible gulf between what is and what could be.
  It might be said, in the case of Christianity, that the people who wrote those stories about Jesus walking on water and raising the dead excused us from feeding the poor and figuring out a way to stop killing each other.
  So much is simply left undone not so much that we can’t do it, but that we have never even tried. In that sense, we might all be able to rise—if all our gods were only allowed to fall.
  It is no accident that many of those in prison are more righteous than their jailors.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

EJ—the churches were never silent.

Report this

By ElkoJohn, May 7, 2012 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

As usual, the mainstream church-religions are silent.
They were silent during slavery, segregation, the KKK lynching era, and Vietnam.
If the churches speak out, they will loose membership and their tax exempt status.
But the carpenter from Nazareth said you can’t serve two masters.
The mainstream churches have made their choice.

Report this
prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, May 7, 2012 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Too many Christians not enough Christs..

Report this
prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, May 7, 2012 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

This is the 50th anniversary, of our Vietnam invasion. In all that time our political class, 
has learned the wrong lessons. They have spent those years perfecting their cruelty,
getting rid of inconvenient civil rights, infiltrating dissenting groups, and hiring poisoners
to spread venom in public forums like this, and through the air waves.

Those that have been used as unconscious tools, never learn how to live with their
actions, except by self numbing. And when their own emotional trauma, over what they
have done, breaks through to consciousness, what they have become will be hard to
live with.

The antidote, has always been to reach out, to connect, to give service of oneself, to
community.  The very impulses that the elite twists, to make someone a more effective
comrade in arms, can be used to restore hope, and peace of mind. Until then the past
can only stand in the way of becoming something else.

There are too many Christians, and enough Christs.  But when someone follows his
example, someone who is not content to be anesthetized by his teachings, as they are
wrongly taught,  he has always been a threat to evil.

Report this

By Ed Romano, May 7, 2012 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

Good Morning Comrades, Yes, The meek shall inherit the earth after the captialists have rendered it unin habitable….Let’s give Mr. Packard a round of applause for putting his rear end on the line while many of his colleagues are busy excercising their tongues. But lose the red dress, George and think about what it is your committed to in that backward looking, mealy mouthed, capitalist blessing institution you are in cahoots with.

Report this

By Joyusness, May 7, 2012 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

gaylordcat,
Your story is truth and healing balm.  Just this morning, in a sermon study group,
we came to the conclusion that, like Saul, who merited redirection from God for
his passion, we are called by God to be on fire for him.  Thank you, George
Packard, for carrying the torch and leading the way!

Report this
morongobill's avatar

By morongobill, May 7, 2012 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Jesus would be right alongside the Bishop getting arrested, and yes, he would need an appointment also to make it to the 14th floor.

Courage such as this is what will be required to change this world, and not just from the young or the Bishop.

Repentance and redemption, ancient concepts that still can help give life meaning.

There really is nothing new here nowadays, greed and hubris still alive and kicking, maybe the feet of clay which will lead to the 1%‘s downfall.

Report this

By hmk, May 7, 2012 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I knew way back when that it was wrong to kill - especially in a war because, despite the rabid lies, no war has ever been about self-defense.  So why didn’t this paragon of morality Bishop Packard know?  This is the first Christ Hedges article I merely skimmed over.  I’m sorry but I cannot accept a George Packard as a moral figure.  You can be forgiven for taking another life in a fit of passion; but you can never be forgiven for taking countless lives with your signature - and make no mistake: Packard’s signature when he joined the military is no different from our “leader’s” signature authorizing a drone attack.  And until enough people understand that it’s the people, not their leaders, who thirst for blood and that their leaders only reflect public sentiment, however carefully hidden, to speak of such an impertinence as “morality” is an abomination.

Report this

By Midnight Stalker, May 7, 2012 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One good aspect concerning Packard is that he eventually grew a conscience. However how much he is haunted by his horrible memories—he deserves it, it is the price he must pay for his callous crimes. The fact that he became a religious man does not move me in the least, and is this his way of expiating his guilt?

As an anti-war activist, I could never forgive this man for the atrocities he has committed. As a young stupid man, he made the decision to travel thousands of miles to kill fellow human beings who were defending their land from an invasion of the imperial killer American forces.

Packard has a lot of karma to work out and judging by his own admission of the number of people he and other serial killers have sent to the nether world, it is doubtful he will ever get to be a forgiven person, and if he believes in the “hell” his religion teaches, it is a place he will reside in for eternity.
He helped to create a living hell for the Vietnamese and it is only fitting that work out his sins in “hell” created by his god.

The other matter he must work out is the question of religion. Is it a force for good or is it just another joke perpetrated on humanity, and can he really believe he can find forgiveness in a dubious god and religion?

Report this

By Brook Packard, May 7, 2012 at 7:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Chris, for you prophetic voice. George
may be the only bishop willing to keep up the fight,
but he is joined by comrades around the world who
know our votes are useless, money is power used to
destroy, and that the laws does not protect the least
of these but the interests of a handful of people
with personality disorders and twisted values.  All
we can do now is take the streets and get arrested.
What noble cause? Name it. That homes, jobs, health
care, and education are rights and not privileges;
hunger, war and war profiteering, use of public
space, exercising First Amendment rights, the
corporatocracy, fake democracy, and church hypocrisy.
While Troy Davis was being executed-galvanizing more
support to abolish the death penalty-the House of
Bishops of the Episcopal Church met in Quito, Ecuador
to study Liberation Theology. Not even a token
statement let alone joining the people in the
streets. (There was a group that had gotten a deal on
a tour of the Galapagos, you see.) Jesus said there
was but one law: Love God and love your neighbor as
yourself.  People of faith do not need leadership
anymore since that leadership has betrayed their
trust. “To whom much is given, much is required.” 
For some, that means sharing financial wealth. That’s
easy. For a lot of us, that means occupying the
courts, public and private space, with our bodies.
Come join us. There is the possibility of police
brutality, but not in every case. Those photos of
people fighting cops show the 1% of OWS. The 99% is
happening…anywhere, any time. I’m very proud of my
husband.

Report this

By bluejeanne, May 7, 2012 at 7:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He certainly took a circuitous route to become ‘the peoples’ bishop’.  Had he met the Berrigan Brothers before his military experience in Vietnam, maybe he would’ve spared himself his profound guilt.  One would think more clergy would be demonstrating their disagreement with the exploitation by the economic system today. Sadly it seems the Churches are evermore entrenched in that very system.

Report this

By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

yes, god, allah, jesus, muhammad, yahweh, your
country/priests/politicians may forgive you your crimes [?
sins] but your nervous system may never.

Report this

By Devon J. Noll, MPA, May 7, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For the first time in a long time, I finally made it through an article by Chris Hedges where I was not depressed, but rather filled with hope and respect for someone.  Rev. Packard is so right that Jesus of Nazareth would hate what the church has become, and He would be out there standing in the streets doing the right thing.

Our nation is filled with people who want to do the right thing, and many are trying to do so.  We need to learn that a common spirit drives us all and whether you believe in God or not, that spirit calls to all of us to come together to help one another fight for justice and honor.  It is the spirit of each person that makes us create strong communities of people - whether a military platoon or a small town or an Occupy event - and they are connected to one another as strongly as if forged in steel.  Rev. Packard and others who understand this sense of community can help lead us all back to what makes us all strong - our unity.

Whether you join in an Occupy event or just stand up and state to your preachers in church, rabbis in synagogues, or imams in mosques that killing someone who does not believe as you do is wrong, you can make a difference and bring hope to a world that is rapidly losing hope.  We must look past our prejudices and stop listening to warmongering religious fanatics to find that which connects us all - our spiritual selves, that inner core that makes us try to be decent human beings.  It is the same among all of us - we love, we laugh, we learn, we give of ourselves to others, and when we face our own mortality, we all cry together.  We must tap into this center of ourselves, because in a world gone mad with hate and fear, it is the only thing that is going to save us.

Thank you, Rev. Packard and Mr. Hedges, for reminding us of our humanity.

Report this

By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

ok, i mispelled caeser’s name. btw, “uphold the prophets”
directive means that pious christians shld always obey their
priests. and christians have always done so very faithfully.
how long so, oh my goddevil?

Report this

By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

sorry, packard, but jesus had said [or s’mone said it for
him]: meek shall inherit the earth [and christians hear it loud
and clear]; render onto caesar caesar’s; you shall always
have poor amongst you [and perforce strong and weak in
daily living/politics as well]; i came to uphold the law
[theoocratic, of course] and prophets.
and we know that no one can foresee the future!!

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

So what great cause was George Packard that compelled him to be arrested that
night?

Report this

By egsmith, May 7, 2012 at 6:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I serve the church as clergy, and while much of the characterization of the church
rings true, I am compelled to say that all of the work is not meaningless simply
because it is not a part of the Occupy movement. I hold hands with people who are
dying, I cry with families losing loved ones to cancer, I sit with people who no one
remembers. None of this is as exhilarating as being arrested in New York, nor do I
serve out of some need to atone, at least not for something as profound as
systematic murder. I am sympathetic to the Occupy movement, it is just that those
who’ve been forgotten and abandoned, whether their abandonment is the result of
a corrupt monetary system or not, are not able to process it all because of their
predicament. Please don’t flush us all because we are not being arrested.

Report this

By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

i did not expect that more than one in thousand of pious people wld support Occupy.
thus i suggested Occupy occupies churches.
but OWS need to occupy ONEPERCENT’S [or actually of the 30-90%‘s] ideology, foreign and
domestic policies as well.
ows has to stop jumping fences, occupy private property, disobey, or shout at police.
police is there to protect their pensions, healthcare, early retirement, double dipping,
american dream, etc.
i wonder if the OWS realize what it is they are facing and that changes can be wrought only in
congress-w.h-judiciary and never from street?
recall, please, that private property in a strong empire such as u.s is a holy of holies and you
shld never violate it or you’d pay for it!

Report this

By John holland, May 7, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great piece, and well deserved. Personally I would have liked to hear how Bishop
Packard’s past influenced his current politics and activities. Nonetheless, I appreciated
reading about his background.

Report this
gaylordcat's avatar

By gaylordcat, May 7, 2012 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

George Packard was my rector at Christ Church, Martinsville, VA, in 1978, his first parish, I think, after his ordination. We talked, frequently, about his Viet Nam experiences, especially the fact that he was so very successful at what he did in that war. I asked about his nightmares and how he reconciled what he did in the war with what being a priest demanded. He said it was very hard.

George taught me a lot about facing demons; I had, have, many. Even now, when I turn and look them in the eye, I often think of George. His arrests do not surprise me at all. If he had not been arrested, I would be shocked. He is what we all should be, religion aside: courageous, standing for what is right. Right! Getting off our butts and wading into battle because it is the right thing to do.

I believe George is a priest, not because he wants to be, but because he has to be. He is compelled, as your story clearly shows, to atone for the lives he took in Viet Nam. He knows it is the right thing to do, but he also knows it is what the church, synagogue, temple, stupa—whatever—must do if humanity is to survive.

I am no longer a believer in a god, but there is a place for religions in the lives of people. However, that place is NOT inside a building re-enacting the myths of the religions and calling it worship. Using Christianity as an example, re-enacting the so-called Last Supper (the Mass) every Sunday is an utter waste of time and an affront to Jesus whom Christians profess to follow. According to the New Testament, he did not spend his time in buildings worshiping a god. He waded into the streets and helped people to end hunger, pain, affliction, stress, worry, etc., etc. I think that’s what George Packard means with his own life; get out there and help, do what you can to make lives better for our brothers and sisters, do what is RIGHT; WE ARE OUR BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, and if we are not, our species is doomed.

I haven’t seen George for over 30 years, but I’ve never forgotten the young man who spent so much time with me helping me face the torments that surrounded me then, a very courageous act while burdened with his own tormentors. I love George very much and my admiration of him is so much deeper after reading your story. Thanks, Mr. Hedges.

Report this

By loneagle, May 7, 2012 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most people think soldier PTSD is from what was done to you, while most people
who suffer from it know it is from what they did.

Report this

By antrosie, May 7, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

Thanks for this great story. It’s difficult to leave
our comfort zone and risk getting arrested to join in
the street protests. You and Bishop Packard have my
respect for your commitment to the expression of free
speech and for trying to awaken others to do the same.

Report this

By Tom Degan, May 7, 2012 at 4:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beware the sleeping giant of the Religious Left….

http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2007/02/thomas-merton-1915-1968.html

I’m just sayin’.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Report this
 
Monsters of Our Own Creation? Get tickets for this Truthdig discussion of America's role in the Middle East.
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.