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“All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions, to make us accept within ourselves its terms, to believe that our only choices are those that lay before us. If we let the terms of force describe the terrain of our battle, we will lose. But if we hold to the power of our visions, our heartbeats, our imagination, we can fight on our own turf, which is the landscape of consciousness. There, the enemy cannot help but transform.
“We old women have learned from our history and its mistakes. Many of you are too young to remember the wealth of the old society, the incredible resources, the power of technology, the firepower of its weaponry, the sheer abundance of things, so many that they could be shamelessly squandered and wasted.
“But the greatest waste was war. I remember how we watched in frustration as all of that wealth, so many lives of blossoming young men and women, all of our ingenuity and resources were poured down the hole of war after war. The Cold War, The Vietnam War, the Middle East, Latin America, riots in our own burning ghettos, big wars and small wars and endless preparation for nuclear war. We waged war on ourselves with nuclear testing, gave our own citizens cancer and then denied responsibility, poisoned the sacred lands of the Indians and turned great rivers into radioactive sewers, and every time there was a glimpse of peace, we scurried to find a new enemy so we could continue this mindless wasting. Blowing up our wealth, burning it off, turning it into poisons and toxins, shooting it in the belly, shipping it home in body bags, murdering our own children and everybody else’s.
“And meanwhile we decayed. When I was born, when I grew up in the fifties, we believed our country was the land of opportunity, where nobody was doomed to remain poor, where every person of goodwill had a chance to rise. By the time my child was born in the nineties, beggars were crowding the streets of every city, accosting shoppers in the malls. There were camps of homeless in the parks and empty lots, young people going to war with each other for drugs and booze and a few bucks. Our compassion eroded faster than the topsoil, and when we began to notice the earth changes, the droughts and the warming and the die-offs of the animals, the hole in the ozone layer and the epidemics of strange diseases that showed our own immune systems faltering, when we still had a chance to save so much and avert the worst of what followed, we continued to distract ourselves with war.
“What I say, what I have always said, is that there has got to be an end to it. Now is the time to make an end. There will never be a better time, because there is always a reason to fight and kill and build more guns and weapons. Twenty years ago when we founded the Council we said, ‘Make an end to it – we will not waste what hope is left to us by building weapons of war.’ We knew this day would come; we hoped only that when it did we would have other kinds of weapons to fight with. Now it’s here. Now we had better be ready to take up the challenge, as Lily said. Or we will die, and perhaps the earth will rethink this whole experiment in consciousness and start afresh to grow some other form, less aggressive maybe, less extreme, less surprising.”
There was a long moment of silence when she finished, and then applause echoed through the hall.
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