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Visionary Society is meant to grow naturally by those who have a special interest in any aspect of it, and would like to help develop that part in their community.

Please enter your location and explain what your interest in Visionary Society is and what role you'd like to take. We'll review this and start taking steps to making your community more Visionary!
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exp:channel:form channel="location" return="pledge//"
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/exp:channel:form
 
Prices: What is fair, what is unethical?
This is a Session within the Topic business
 

A Pledge is thoughtfulness about your profession
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Prices: What is fair, what is unethical?
 

Taking a Pledge is agreeing to simple, basic thoughtfulness in a profession. It is a new kind of Hippocratic Oath - a dynamic, active way to think about and decide on what you do and how you operate in your working life.

– Taking the Pledge does not mean that you agree with each (or any) perspectives.
– Decide on each Pledge perspective separately.
– Deactivate the Pledge itself at any time.
Learn more
 

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(Should we have location select here? Otherwise the list of places would be too long. Or should the place select be on the Place page?)

 
Overview
Prices: What is fair, what is unethical?


 
Topic
10 Sessions 1 Opinions
 
 
Pledge Perspectives

Explore each perspective and vote on it.
Which do you support? How can you help others and make the community better? 
"Greta Thunberg at the UN climate change conference, August 2019"
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Greta Thunberg at the UN climate change conference, August 2019

sdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askdsdlfjasd;flasj ;askd

 

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"Aloshae’s friend"
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Aloshae’s friend

;aslkdf ;asldkf jas;ldkfj as;ldfkj asd;lfkjas df;lkjsa lksafdj Aloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet good

 

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"Pledge to make your cultural activities thoughtful"
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Pledge to make your cultural activities thoughtful

;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf

;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf;salt;asldfj as;ldkfjas ;ldfkaj;l fskjf
 

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"Projects for ART in your community"
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Projects for ART in your community

asdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fkla

asdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fkla
 

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"Requests to cinemas, museums and galleries"
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Requests to cinemas, museums and galleries

asdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fkla

asdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fklaasdlja s;dfkljasd;fkla
 

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"Aloshae on what we can do to keep our community and planet clean"
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Aloshae on what we can do to keep our community and planet clean

;aslkdf ;asldkf jas;ldkfj as;ldfkj asd;lfkjas df;lkjsa lksafdj Aloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet goodAloshae's on what we can do to keep our community and planet good

 

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"We are not serious about ending homelessness"
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We are not serious about ending homelessness

asldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fdasldkjs ;aldfkjqa s;dlkja fd

 

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"The true work of art is something new and challenging"
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The true work of art is something new and challenging

The true work of art is something new – it is not to primarily the copy or representation of anything. It may evolve representation, but that is not what makes it a work of art… It is new, startling, and perhaps shattering – and yet it comes to us with a sense of familiarity. We did not know it before, but the moment the poet has shown it to us, we know that, somehow or other, we had always really known it.

Very well. But, frankly, is that the sort of thing the average British citizen gets, or expects to get, when he goes to the theater or reads a book? No, it is not. In the majority of cases, it is not in the least what he expects, or what he wants.
 

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"Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion"
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Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion

Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Right Livelihood is an element of the Noble Eightfold Path. It urges us to practice a profession that harms neither humans nor nature, physically or morally.


Practicing mindfulness at work helps us discover whether our livelihood is right or not. We live in a society where jobs are hard to find and it is difficult to practice Right Livelihood. Still, if it happens that our work entails harming life, we should try our best to find another job. We should not drown in forgetfulness. Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or it can erode them. Our work has much to do with our practice of the Way.
 

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"The unique experience of a creative moment in life"
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The unique experience of a creative moment in life

In the work of art the artist, first of all, says: “I am here and in me life has taken a certain form. My life must not pass till I master its meaning and value. What I have seen and felt and thought and imagined seems to me important: so important that I will try to convey it to you through a common language of symbols and forms, with something of the concentration, some of the intensity, some of the passionate delight that I carry to the highest pitch in myself through the very act of expression.

With the aid of art I give you, in the present, the experience of a lifetime: the potentialities of many lifetimes. These esthetic moments endow life with a new meaning; and these new meanings heighten life with other esthetic moments...
So says the artist. And though the symbols that are used in any culture must, to be understood and experienced, have some common ground, each fresh work of art is unique...With the expression of a true work of art the goodness of life is affirmed, and life itself renewed.
 

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"Beauty which is acquired at the cost of justice is an abomination"
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Beauty which is acquired at the cost of justice is an abomination

Beauty which is acquired at the cost of justice is an abomination and should be rejected for its loathsomeness. All values are esteemed only to the extent that they are worthy in the sight of God, for only through the Divine Light is their light seen... The criterion by which we judge beauty is integrity, the criterion by which we judge integrity is truth, and truth is the correspondence of the finite to the infinite, the specific to the general, the cosmos to God.

All things carry a surplus of meaning over being – they mean more than what they are in themselves. Even finite facts stand for infinite meaning. It is as if all things were vibrant with spiritual meaning, and all we try to do in creative art and in good deeds is to intone the secret strain, an aspect of that meaning.
 

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"The artist must never cease warring with society, to make it more human"
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The artist must never cease warring with society, to make it more human

The peculiar nature of this responsibility is that he must never cease warring with it, for its sake and for his own. Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.

The conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
 

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"Work should be play. Don’t work just for money."
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Work should be play. Don’t work just for money.

What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it. Who was it who said, 'Blessed is the man who has found his work'? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind, Mark you, he says his work – not somebody else's work. The work that is really a man's own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man's work and cannot lose it. When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world.


The fellows who groan and sweat under the weary load of toil that they bear never can hope to do anything great. How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains? The product of slavery, intellectual or physical, can never be great.
 

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"Ordinary people with passion, vision and action"
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Ordinary people with passion, vision and action

Most extraordinary things are achieved by ordinary people who have three things in common. Based on the exceptional human performance framework called "Olympian Thinking," when ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things, they are:
– Passion powered
– Vision guided
– Action oriented


‘Sir, you have this gift, and a mighty one; see that you serve your nation faithfully with it. It is a greater trust than ships and armies: you might cast away, if you were their captain, with less treason to your people than in casting your own glorious power away, and serving the devil with it instead of men. Ships and armies you may replace if they are lost, but a great intellect, once abused, is a curse to the earth for ever.’ John Ruskin
 

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"Satisfy the truest and highest part of yourself"
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Satisfy the truest and highest part of yourself

Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side, all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea.

 

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"The Grand Inquisitor"
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The Grand Inquisitor

sadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdfsadasdfad asdf

 

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"Always decide to use humble love"
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Always decide to use humble love

At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men’s sin, and asks oneself whether one should use force or love and humility. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.


Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you — alas, it is true of almost every one of us!
 

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"The Brothers Karamazov is a book that changed my life."
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The Brothers Karamazov is a book that changed my life.

The Brothers Karamazov is a book that changed my life. At many times in my life, when nothing around me made sense, when I had no one to guide me, to show me the difference between the dissolute and the sublime, between the profane and the sacred, I was able to find support in the pages of this long book.

Dostoyevsky wrote at the very beginning of the modern era, 150 years ago, when the changes resulting from the triumph of science and materialism were first becoming visible. What happens when the idea of the ultimate, of true goodness, is annihilated? How can we possibly have meaningful lives?

 

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"Life is suffering, so get your act together!"
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Life is suffering, so get your act together!

Try to be a good person so you don’t make suffering worse. You have lots of reason to be resentful. God, there’s reasons to be resentful about your existence; everyone you know is going to die. You make everything your complaining about infinitely worse. What do you do about it? Well, you accept it. That’s what life is like. It’s suffering.

College students don’t know that they’re surrounded by just a bloody miracle. It’s a miracle that all this stuff works, that all you crazy chimpanzees that don’t know each other can sit in the same room for two hours sweltering away without tearing each other apart.

Get yourself together. Transcend your suffering. See if you can be some kind of hero. Make the suffering in the world less. That’s what’s under assault by the postmodernists.
 

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"Our real life comes from a hidden source"
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Our real life comes from a hidden source

‘Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.’

 

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"We are the things we possess"
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We are the things we possess

“We are the things we possess, we are that to which we are attached. Attachment has no nobility. Attachment to knowledge is not different from any other gratifying addiction. Attachment is self-absorption, whether at the lowest or at the highest level. Attachment is self-deception, it is an escape from the hollowness of the self. The things to which we are attached—property, people, ideas—become all-important, for without the many things which fill its emptiness, the self is not. The fear of not being makes for possession; and fear breeds illusion, the bondage to conclusions."

 

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"Your central wish makes you unique"
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Your central wish makes you unique

“’Everyone has in him something precious that is in no one else.’ But this precious something in a man is revealed to him only if he truly perceives his strongest feeling, his central wish, that in him which stirs his inmost being.”

 

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"The self is a monstrous deceit, something transcendent in disguise"
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The self is a monstrous deceit, something transcendent in disguise

“Beyond my reach is the bottom of my own inner life. I am not even sure whether it is the voice of a definite personal unit that comes out of me. What in my voice has originated in me and what is the resonance of trans-subjective reality?”
“Once we discover that the self in itself is a monstrous deceit, that the self is something transcendent in disguise, we begin to feel the pressure that keeps us down to a mere self. We begin to realize that our normal consciousness is in a state of trance, that what is higher in us is usually suspended.”

 

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"Resolve conflict peacefully and helpfully"
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Resolve conflict peacefully and helpfully

When a problem occurs Security Guides should first attempt to engage those involved by asking for understanding and compassion. They should be trained in conflict resolution, using procedures such as NVC (Non-Violent Communication), Compassionate Listening, etc. They should use their authority to enforce rules (or to call for enforcement) only as a last resort.

 

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"Offer resources for immediate and long-term needs to those in trouble"
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Offer resources for immediate and long-term needs to those in trouble

Security Guides should be trained in what is available in the community and how to get access to them. After learning about the situation of the person in trouble they can use this toolbox of resources to make a variety of practical suggestions.
Practical needs include housing, food, cleanliness, medical care, safety, legal advice, therapy, and psychological counselling. Long-term needs could include vocational training, education on basic skills (as well as how to learn about social and philosophical issues, living in community, and basic spirituality.

 

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"Concern for the well-being of the public"
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Concern for the well-being of the public

The Security Guide should be a force for understanding, awareness, concern, and helpfulness in improving community life. They should act with humanity, sensitivity, and compassion. They should treat people with dignity, as living beings with a mind, heart and soul.
This applies not only to people in trouble or those causing harm: everyone, including the general public, staff, managers and owners, should feel welcomed by the guide and able to use their services.

 

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"Stand up for art that improves life and society"
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Stand up for art that improves life and society

Every work of art is a challenge to understand and improve life and society. Support culture that calls you to your higher nature. Fight for a broader and deeper view of our place in culture, time and space. Explore new possibilities. Stand up against superficiality, manipulation, and degradation. Aspire to the good, not the vile.

 

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"Don’t participate in harmful cultural activities"
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Don’t participate in harmful cultural activities

Do not waste your life on trivial pursuits. Reduce participation in the superficial, illusory, idolatrous, degraded and violent. Do not escape. Avoid any artificial source of mood changes, such as loud music, alcohol, or parties, and mass events. Don't adulate stars and celebrities.

 

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"Take account of the effect on your psyche"
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Take account of the effect on your psyche

Be aware of the effect of watching a movie or reading a book or any other way you participate in culture. Understand what a work of art says, what view of life it promotes. Do not use art solely for self-satisfaction.
How does a work of art make you feel? Does it inflame your ego? Does it magnify what is fleeting? Does it reinforce stereotypes? Does it make you compare yourself to something inane? Or does it recognize the part of you that you admire? Does it make you feel more human? Does it address what is best in you?

 

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"Trailer to the 1957 film"
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Trailer to the 1957 film

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"Be sensitive to your own humanity and the humanity of your opponents"
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Be sensitive to your own humanity and the humanity of your opponents

Ensure that you are sensitive to your humanity and the implications of what you do. Do not erase the humanity of the opposing side, for example by considering them to be 'bad guys'. Do not mock or condemn those with whom you disagree. Recognize the equality of humanity. Everyone is equally worthy of our concern.

 

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"Understand and follow the laws of war and the war convention"
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Understand and follow the laws of war and the war convention

War is a rule governed activity, a world of permissions and prohibitions.
There is a standard higher than national victory – the 'war convention' and established laws of war. These rules should obeyed, even it interferes with winning the war. Soldiers must refuse at some early point, before civilian endurance in exhausted, to carry out or support a terrorist policy.

 

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"Take responsibility for your actions as a soldier"
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Take responsibility for your actions as a soldier

The military requires a strict hierarchy of command and obedience, and this is important, but does not release the human being from his or her own responsibility. There are higher and prior standards, to which all must refer before obeying orders.

Exercise your free will. Refuse to carry out a an excessively destructive policy. Soldiers have the right and responsibility to refuse illegal military orders.

 

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Perspective Resources (2)

Resources in this Pledge. Visit an individual Pledge Perspective for relevant Resources.


 
Text: The soldier is made to feel that obeying orders is a moral obligation
X
Another important factor for the possibility of war is the deeply
ingrained feeling of respect for and awe of authority. The soldier had
traditionally been made to feel that to obey his leaders was a moral and
religious obligation for the fulfillment of which he should be ready to
pay with his life. It took about three to four years of the horror of life
in the trenches and growing insight into the fact that they were being
used by their leaders for aims of war that had nothing to do with
defense, to break down this attitude of obedience, at least in a consider-
able part of the army and the populations at home.

There are other, more subtle emotional motivations that make war
possible and that have nothing to do with aggression. War is exciting,
even if it entails risks for one’s life and much physical suffering. Consid-
ering that the life of the average person is boring, routinized, and
lacking in adventure, the readiness to go to war must be understood as
a desire to put an end ot the boring routine of daily life — and to throw
oneself into an adventure, the only adventure, in fact, the average per-
son may expect to have in his life. 25

War, to some extent, reverses all values. War encourages deep-
seated human impulses, such as altruism and solidarity, to be expressed
— impulses that are stunted by the principles of egotism and competi-
tion that peacetime life engenders in modern man. Class differences, if
not absent, disappear to a considerable extent. In war, man is man
again, and has a chance to distinguish himself, regardless of privileges
that his social status confers upon him as a citizen. To put it in a very
accentuated form: war is an indirect rebellion against the injustice,
inequality and boredom governing social life in peacetime, and the fact
must not be underestimated that while a soldier fights the enemy for his
life, he does not have to fight the members of his own group for food,
medical care, shelter, clothing; these are all provided in a kind of per-
versely socialized system. The fact that war has these positive features

Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness
Notes: Pages 241


 
 
 
Text: Do not renounce your free will and human sentiments (Leo Tolstoy)
X
"All force, therefore, rests on these men, who carry out the deeds of violence with their own hands, the men who serve in the police or the army, especially the army, for the police only venture to do their work because the army is at their back." 303

"You can be forced by some confused and complicated reasoning to act in direct opposition to all this; that…you could be forced to become a soldier, and renouncing your free will and your human sentiments, could undertake to kill anyone at the command of other men?" 363


Just as a trained tiger, who does not eat meat put under his nose, and jumps over a stick at the word of command, does not act thus because he likes it, but because he remembers the red-hot irons or the fast with which he was punished every time he did not obey; so men submitting to what is disadvantageous or even ruinous to them, and considered by them as unjust, act thus because they remember what they suffered for resisting it.

As for those who profit by the privileges gained by previous acts of violence, they often forget and like to forget how these privileges were obtained. But one need only recall the facts of history, not the history of the exploits of different dynasties of rulers, but real history, the history of the oppression of the majority by a small number of men, to see that all the advantages the rich have over the poor are based on nothing but flogging, imprisonment, and murder.

One need but reflect on the unceasing, persistent struggle of all to better their material position, which is the guiding motive of men of the present day, to be convinced that the advantages of the rich over the poor could never and can never be maintained by anything but force.

There may be cases of oppression, of violence, and of punishments, though they are rare, the aim of which is not to secure the privileges of the propertied classes. But one may confidently assert that in any society where, for every man living in ease, there are ten exhausted by labor, envious, covetous, and often suffering with their families from direct privation, all the privileges of the rich, all their luxuries and superfluities, are obtained and maintained only by tortures, imprisonment, and murder.

The train I met on the 9th of September going with soldiers, guns, cartridges, and rods, to confirm the rich landowner in the possession of a small forest which he had taken from the starving peasants, which they were in the direst need of, and he was in no need of at all, was a striking proof of how men are capable of doing deeds directly opposed to their principles and their conscience without perceiving it.

The special train consisted of one first-class carriage for the governor, the officials, and officers, and several luggage vans crammed full of soldiers. The latter, smart young fellows in their clean new uniforms, were standing about in groups or sitting swinging their legs in the wide open doorways of the luggage vans. Some were smoking, nudging each other, joking, grinning, and laughing, others were munching sunflower seeds and spitting out the husks with an air of dignity. Some of them ran along the platform to drink some water from a tub there, and when they met the officers they slackened their pace, made their stupid gesture of salutation, raising their hands to their heads with serious faces as though they were doing something of the greatest importance. They kept their eyes on them till they had passed by them, and then set off running still more merrily, stamping their heels on the platform, laughing and chattering after the manner of healthy, good-natured young fellows, traveling in lively company.

They were going to assist at the murder of their fathers or grandfathers just as if they were going on a party of pleasure, or at any rate on some quite ordinary business.

The same impression was produced by the well-dressed functionaries and officers who were scattered about the platform and in the first-class carriage. At a table covered with bottles was sitting the governor, who was responsible for the whole expedition, dressed in his half-military uniform and eating something while he chatted tranquilly about the weather with some acquaintances he had met, as though the business he was upon was of so simple and ordinary a character that it could not disturb his serenity and his interest in the change of weather.

At a little distance from the table sat the general of the police. He was not taking any refreshment, and had an impenetrable bored expression, as though he were weary of the formalities to be gone through. On all sides officers were bustling noisily about in their red uniforms trimmed with gold; one sat at a table finishing his bottle of beer, another stood at the buffet eating a cake, and brushing the crumbs off his uniform, threw down his money with a self-confident air; another was sauntering before the carriages of our train, staring at the faces of the women.

All these men who were going to murder or to torture the famishing and defenseless creatures who provide them their sustenance had the air of men who knew very well that they were doing their duty, and some were even proud, were "glorying" in what they were doing.

What is the meaning of it?

All these people are within half an hour of reaching the place where, in order to provide a wealthy young man with three thousand rubles stolen from a whole community of famishing peasants, they may be forced to commit the most horrible acts one can conceive, to murder or torture, as was done in Orel, innocent beings, their brothers. And they see the place and time approaching with untroubled serenity.

To say that all these government officials, officers, and soldiers do not know what is before them is impossible, for they are prepared for it. The governor must have given directions about the rods, the officials must have sent an order for them, purchased them, and entered the item in their accounts. The military officers have given and received orders about cartridges. They all know that they are going to torture, perhaps to kill, their famishing fellow-creatures, and that they must set to work within an hour.

To say, as is usually said, and as they would themselves repeat, that they are acting from conviction of the necessity for supporting the state organization, would be a mistake. For in the first place, these men have probably never even thought about state organization and the necessity of it; in the second place, they cannot possibly be convinced that the act in which they are taking part will tend to support rather than to ruin the state; and thirdly, in reality the majority, if not all, of these men, far from ever sacrificing their own pleasure or tranquillity to support the state, never let slip an opportunity of profiting at the expense of the state in every way they can increase their own pleasure and ease. So that they are not acting thus for the sake of the abstract principle of the state.

What is the meaning of it?

Yet I know all these men. If I don't know all of them personally, I know their characters pretty nearly, their past, and their way of thinking. They certainly all have mothers, some of them wives and children. They are certainly for the most part good, kind, even tender-hearted fellows, who hate every sort of cruelty, not to speak of murder; many of them would not kill or hurt an animal. Moreover, they are all professed Christians and regard all violence directed against the defenseless as base and disgraceful.

Certainly not one of them would be capable in everyday life, for his own personal profit, of doing a hundredth part of what the Governor of Orel did. Every one of them would be insulted at the supposition that he was capable of doing anything of the kind in private life.

And yet they are within half an hour of reaching the place where they may be reduced to the inevitable necessity of committing this crime.

What is the meaning of it?

But it is not only these men who are going by train prepared for murder and torture. How could the men who began the whole business, the landowner, the commissioner, the judges, and those who gave the order and are responsible for it, the ministers, the Tzar, who are also good men, professed Christians, how could they elaborate such a plan and assent to it, knowing its consequences? The spectators even, who took no part in the affair, how could they, who are indignant at the sight of any cruelty in private life, even the overtaxing of a horse, allow such a horrible deed to be perpetrated? How was it they did not rise in indignation and bar the roads, shouting, "No; flog and kill starving men because they won't let their last possession be stolen from them without resistance, that we won't allow!" But far from anyone doing this, the majority, even of those who were the cause of the affair, such as the commissioner, the landowner, the judge, and those who took part in it and arranged it, as the governor, the ministers, and the Tzar, are perfectly tranquil and do not even feel a prick of conscience. And apparently all the men who are going to carry out this crime are equally undisturbed.

The spectators, who one would suppose could have no personal interest in the affair, looked rather with sympathy than with disapproval at all these people preparing to carry out this infamous action. In the same compartment with me was a wood merchant, who had risen from a peasant. He openly expressed aloud his sympathy with such punishments. "They can't disobey the authorities," he said; "that's what the authorities are for. Let them have a lesson; send their fleas flying! They'll give over making commotions, I warrant you. That's what they want."

What is the meaning of it?

It is not possible to say that all these people who have provoked or aided or allowed this deed are such worthless creatures that, knowing all the infamy of what they are doing, they do it against their principles, some for pay and for profit, others through fear of punishment. All of them in certain circumstances know how to stand up for their principles. Not one of these officials would steal a purse, read another man's letter, or put up with an affront without demanding satisfaction. Not one of these officers would consent to cheat at cards, would refuse to pay a debt of honor, would betray a comrade, run away on the field of battle, or desert the flag. Not one of these soldiers would spit out the holy sacrament or eat meat on Good Friday. All these men are ready to face any kind of privation, suffering, or danger rather than consent to do what they regard as wrong. They have therefore the strength to resist doing what is against their principles.

It is even less possible to assert that all these men are such brutes that it is natural and not distasteful to them to do such deeds. One need only talk to these people a little to see that all of them, the landowner even, and the judge, and the minister and the Tzar and the government, the officers and the soldiers, not only disapprove of such things in the depth of their soul, but suffer from the consciousness of their participation in them when they recollect what they imply. But they try not to think about it.

One need only talk to any of these who are taking part in the affair from the landowner to the lowest policeman or soldier to see that in the depth of their soul they all know it is a wicked thing, that it would be better to have nothing to do with it, and are suffering from the knowledge.

A lady of liberal views, who was traveling in the same train with us, seeing the governor and the officers in the first-class saloon and learning the object of the expedition, began, intentionally raising her voice so that they should hear, to abuse the existing order of things and to cry shame on men who would take part in such proceedings. Everyone felt awkward, none knew where to look, but no one contradicted her. They tried to look as though such remarks were not worth answering. But one could see by their faces and their averted eyes that they were ashamed. I noticed the same thing in the soldiers. They too knew that what they were sent to do was a shameful thing, but they did not want to think about what was before them.

When the wood merchant, as I suspect insincerely only to show that he was a man of education, began to speak of the necessity of such measures, the soldiers who heard him all turned away from him, scowling and pretending not to hear.

All the men who, like the landowner, the commissioner, the minister, and the Tzar, were responsible for the perpetration of this act, as well as those who were now going to execute it, and even those who were mere spectators of it, knew that it was a wickedness, and were ashamed of taking any share in it, and even of being present at it.

Then why did they do it, or allow it to be done?

Ask them the question. And the landowner who started the affair, and the judge who pronounced a clearly unjust even though formally legal decision, and those who commanded the execution of the decision, and those who, like the policemen, soldiers, and peasants, will execute the deed with their own hands, flogging and killing their brothers, all who have devised, abetted, decreed, executed, or allowed such crimes, will make substantially the same reply.

The authorities, those who have started, devised, and decreed the matter, will say that such acts are necessary for the maintenance of the existing order; the maintenance of the existing order is necessary for the welfare of the country and of humanity, for the possibility of social existence and human progress.

Men of the poorer class, peasants and soldiers, who will have to execute the deed of violence with their own hands, say that they do so because it is the command of their superior authority, and the superior authority knows what he is about. That those are in authority who ought to be in authority, and that they know what they are doing appears to them a truth of which there can be no doubt. If they could admit the possibility of mistake or error, it would only be in functionaries of a lower grade; the highest authority on which all the rest depends seems to them immaculate beyond suspicion.

Though expressing the motives of their conduct differently, both those in command and their subordinates are agreed in saying that they act thus because the existing order is the order which must and ought to exist at the present time, and that therefore to support it is the sacred duty of every man.

On this acceptance of the necessity and therefore immutability of the existing order, all who take part in acts of violence on the part of government base the argument always advanced in their justification. "Since the existing order is immutable," they say, "the refusal of a single individual to perform the duties laid upon him will effect no change in things, and will only mean that some other man will be put in his place who may do the work worse, that is to say, more cruelly, to the still greater injury of the victims of the act of violence."

This conviction that the existing order is the necessary and therefore immutable order, which it is a sacred duty for every man to support, enables good men, of high principles in private life, to take part with conscience more or less untroubled in crimes such as that perpetrated in Orel, and that which the men in the Toula train were going to perpetrate.

But what is this conviction based on? It is easy to understand that the landowner prefers to believe that the existing order is inevitable and immutable, because this existing order secures him an income from his hundreds and thousands of acres, by means of which he can lead his habitual indolent and luxurious life.

It is easy to understand that the judge readily believes in the necessity of an order of things through which he receives a wage fifty times as great as the most industrious laborer can earn, and the same applies to all the higher officials. It is only under the existing REGIME that as governor, prosecutor, senator, members of the various councils, they can receive their several thousands of rubles a year, without which they and their families would at once sink into ruin, since if it were not for the position they occupy they would never by their own abilities, industry, or acquirements get a thousandth part of their salaries. The minister, the Tzar, and all the higher authorities are in the same position. The only distinction is that the higher and the more exceptional their position, the more necessary it is for them to believe that the existing order is the only possible order of things. For without it they would not only be unable to gain an equal position, but would be found to fall lower than all other people. A man who has of his own free will entered the police force at a wage of ten rubles, which he could easily earn in any other position, is hardly dependent on the preservation of the existing REGIME, and so he may not believe in its immutability. But a king or an emperor, who receives millions for his post, and knows that there are thousands of people round him who would like to dethrone him and take his place, who knows that he will never receive such a revenue or so much honor in any other position, who knows, in most cases through his more or less despotic rule, that if he were dethroned he would have to answer for all his abuse of power--he cannot but believe in the necessity and even sacredness of the existing order. The higher and the more profitable a man's position, the more unstable it becomes, and the more terrible and dangerous a fall from it for him, the more firmly the man believes in the existing order, and therefore with the more ease of conscience can such a man perpetrate cruel and wicked acts, as though they were not in his own interest, but for the maintenance of that order.

This is the case with all men in authority, who occupy positions more profitable than they could occupy except for the present REGIME, from the lowest police officer to the Tzar. All of them are more or less convinced that the existing order is immutable, because--the chief consideration--it is to their advantage. But the peasants, the soldiers, who are at the bottom of the social scale, who have no kind of advantage from the existing order, who are in the very lowest position of subjection and humiliation, what forces them to believe that the existing order in which they are in their humble and disadvantageous position is the order which ought to exist, and which they ought to support even at the cost of evil actions contrary to their conscience?

What forces these men to the false reasoning that the existing order is unchanging, and that therefore they ought to support it, when it is so obvious, on the contrary, that it is only unchanging because they themselves support it?

What forces these peasants, taken only yesterday from the plow and dressed in ugly and unseemly costumes with blue collars and gilt buttons, to go with guns and sabers and murder their famishing fathers and brothers? They gain no kind of advantage and can be in no fear of losing the position they occupy, because it is worse than that from which they have been taken.

The persons in authority of the higher orders--landowners, merchants, judges, senators, governors, ministers, tzars, and officers--take part in such doings because the existing order is to their advantage. In other respects they are often good and kind-hearted men, and they are more able to take part in such doings because their share in them is limited to suggestions, decisions, and orders. These persons in authority never do themselves what they suggest, decide, or command to be done. For the most part they do not even see how all the atrocious deeds they have suggested and authorized are carried out. But the unfortunate men of the lower orders, who gain no kind of advantage from the existing REGIME, but, on the contrary, are treated with the utmost contempt, support it even by dragging people with their own hands from their families, handcuffing them, throwing them in prison, guarding them, shooting them.

Why do they do it? What forces them to believe that the existing order is unchanging and they must support it?

All violence rests, we know, on those who do the beating, the handcuffing, the imprisoning, and the killing with their own hands. If there were no soldiers or armed policemen, ready to kill or outrage anyone as they are ordered, not one of those people who sign sentences of death, imprisonment, or galley- slavery for life would make up his mind to hang, imprison, or torture a thousandth part of those whom, quietly sitting in his study, he now orders to be tortured in all kinds of ways, simply because he does not see it nor do it himself, but only gets it done at a distance by these servile tools.

All the acts of injustice and cruelty which are committed in the ordinary course of daily life have only become habitual because there are these men always ready to carry out such acts of injustice and cruelty. If it were not for them, far from anyone using violence against the immense masses who are now ill-treated, those who now command their punishment would not venture to sentence them, would not even dare to dream of the sentences they decree with such easy confidence at present. And if it were not for these men, ready to kill or torture anyone at their commander's will, no one would dare to claim, as all the idle landowners claim with such assurance, that a piece of land, surrounded by peasants, who are in wretchedness from want of land, is the property of a man who does not cultivate it, or that stores of corn taken by swindling from the peasants ought to remain untouched in the midst of a population dying of hunger because the merchants must make their profit. If it were not for these servile instruments at the disposal of the authorities, it could never have entered the head of the landowner to rob the peasants of the forest they had tended, nor of the officials to think they are entitled to their salaries, taken from the famishing people, the price of their oppression; least of all could anyone dream of killing or exiling men for exposing falsehood and telling the truth. All this can only be done because the authorities are confidently assured that they have always these servile tools at hand, ready to carry all their demands into effect by means of torture and murder.

All the deeds of violence of tyrants from Napoleon to the lowest commander of a company who fires upon a crowd, can only be explained by the intoxicating effect of their absolute power over these slaves. All force, therefore, rests on these men, who carry out the deeds of violence with their own hands, the men who serve in the police or the army, especially the army, for the police only venture to do their work because the army is at their back.

What, then, has brought these masses of honest men, on whom the whole thing depends, who gain nothing by it, and who have to do these atrocious deeds with their own hands, what has brought them to accept the amazing delusion that the existing order, unprofitable, ruinous, and fatal as it is for them, is the order which ought to exist?

Who has led them into this amazing delusion?

They can never have persuaded themselves that they ought to do what is against their conscience, and also the source of misery and ruin for themselves, and all their class, who make up nine- tenths of the population.

"How can you kill people, when it is written in God's commandment: 'Thou shalt not kill'?" I have often inquired of different soldiers. And I always drove them to embarrassment and confusion by reminding them of what they did not want to think about. They knew they were bound by the law of God, "Thou shalt not kill," and knew too that they were bound by their duty as soldiers, but had never reflected on the contradiction between these duties. The drift of the timid answers I received to this question was always approximately this: that killing in war and executing criminals by command of the government are not included in the general prohibition of murder. But when I said this distinction was not made in the law of God, and reminded them of the Christian duty of fraternity, forgiveness of injuries, and love, which could not be reconciled with murder, the peasants usually agreed, but in their turn began to ask me questions. "How does it happen," they inquired, "that the government [which according to their ideas cannot do wrong] sends the army to war and orders criminals to be executed." When I answered that the government does wrong in giving such orders, the peasants fell into still greater confusion, and either broke off the conversation or else got angry with me.

"They must have found a law for it. The archbishops know as much about it as we do, I should hope," a Russian soldier once observed to me. And in saying this the soldier obviously set his mind at rest, in the full conviction that his spiritual guides had found a law which authorized his ancestors, and the tzars and their descendants, and millions of men, to serve as he was doing himself, and that the question I had put him was a kind of hoax or conundrum on my part.

Everyone in our Christian society knows, either by tradition or by revelation or by the voice of conscience, that murder is one of the most fearful crimes a man can commit, as the Gospel tells us, and that the sin of murder cannot be limited to certain persons, that is, murder cannot be a sin for some and not a sin for others. Everyone knows that if murder is a sin, it is always a sin, whoever are the victims murdered, just like the sin of adultery, theft, or any other. At the same time from their childhood up men see that murder is not only permitted, but even sanctioned by the blessing of those whom they are accustomed to regard as their divinely appointed spiritual guides, and see their secular leaders with calm assurance organizing murder, proud to wear murderous arms, and demanding of others in the name of the laws of the country, and even of God, that they should take part in murder. Men see that there is some inconsistency here, but not being able to analyze it, involuntarily assume that this apparent inconsistency is only the result of their ignorance. The very grossness and obviousness of the inconsistency confirms them in this conviction.

They cannot imagine that the leaders of civilization, the educated classes, could so confidently preach two such opposed principles as the law of Christ and murder. A simple uncorrupted youth cannot imagine that those who stand so high in his opinion, whom he regards as holy or learned men, could for any object whatever mislead him so shamefully. But this is just what has always been and always is done to him. It is done (1) by instilling, by example and direct instruction, from childhood up, into the working people, who have not time to study moral and religious questions for themselves, the idea that torture and murder are compatible with Christianity, and that for certain objects of state, torture and murder are not only admissible, but ought to be employed; and (2) by instilling into certain of the people, who have either voluntarily enlisted or been taken by compulsion into the army, the idea that the perpetration of murder and torture with their own hands is a sacred duty, and even a glorious exploit, worthy of praise and reward.

The general delusion is diffused among all people by means of the catechisms or books, which nowadays replace them, in use for the compulsory education of children. In them it is stated that violence, that is, imprisonment and execution, as well as murder in civil or foreign war in the defense and maintenance of the existing state organization (whatever that may be, absolute or limited monarchy, convention, consulate, empire of this or that Napoleon or Boulanger, constitutional monarchy, commune or republic) is absolutely lawful and not opposed to morality and Christianity.

This is stated in all catechisms or books used in schools. And men are so thoroughly persuaded of it that they grow up, live and die in that conviction without once entertaining a doubt about it.

This is one form of deception, the general deception instilled into everyone, but there is another special deception practiced upon the soldiers or police who are picked out by one means or another to do the torturing and murdering necessary to defend and maintain the existing REGIME.


Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom Of God Is Within You
Notes: Pages 303 and 363


 
 
 
 
"Who chooses to be homeless?"
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Who chooses to be homeless?

They live in an environment that could change at any given moment. Today they could be sleeping in a tent somewhere and tonight it could be legally taken from them.

This non-permanence is the major destabilizing factor of the homeless population. They can’t rely on where they live from one day to the next.

Imagine how you feel Sunday night when you have to go back to work. Or if you’re a teacher, the last couple days of summer break. Transitions are incredibly challenging for humans. We crave a foundation. We need consistency.

A homeless person has no stability. The fundamental grounding of a permanent place to live is non-existent for them.

A homeless person is someone who is in a system where they have no control over their fundamental living stability.

If you don’t know where you’re going to live from one day to the next and you have not chosen that existence you are homeless.

At that point all your energy is focused on survival and minimizing suffering.

Your mental health issues spike because of the chaos of your life. Then your addictions spike as you attempt to self medicate. You are cold. You are hungry. You are dirty. You have no choice but to focus on basic survival.

Homelessness, by definition, is a total lack of choice.

 

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"Do people choose homelessness?"
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Do people choose homelessness?

It has long been assumed that homelessness is a personal choice. As a choice, homelessness is embedded within debates about deviant behaviours and problematic pathologies. The “homeless person” is either making calculated and immoral choices to be homeless, or they are perceived to be powerless agents who lack the capacity to exercise choices. Rarely has it been adequately explained, however, what choosing homelessness means and how people who are homeless make sense of their choices. The structural and individual circumstances that situate and make choices meaningful require robust consideration. Drawing on ethnographic research with people sleeping rough, this article unpacks and illuminates some of the hidden complexities that underpin choices to be homeless. With an objective of retaining people’s sense for autonomy, the article contributes to the field by arguing that choice can be understood as an expression of agency and a commitment to a “normal” identity.

 

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"The Effects of Homelessness"
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The Effects of Homelessness

Living on the street makes homeless people more vulnerable to abuse. Over the last decade, there have been more than 600 attacks against homeless people, says the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Homeless people have been brutally attacked with baseball bats, chains and other weapons. Women have been raped.

Homelessness tears families apart. Some shelters won’t take boys. Others won’t accept children. A mother may have to watch helplessly as her children are taken from her and placed with relatives or in foster care.

Being without a home takes a terrible toll on children. Homeless children have higher rates of ear infections, stomach problems and asthma than other children their age. They are also more likely to be depressed, anxious, or withdrawn, and have more difficulty in school than their peers.

Homeless adults are also at greater risk for serious health conditions. Exposure to the elements and unsanitary living conditions can lead to frostbite, leg ulcers and upper respiratory infections. Serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and tuberculosis are more common in homeless people than among the general population.

 

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"Measurable impacts on homeless people"
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Measurable impacts on homeless people

The effects of homelessness on homeless people are large. They range from health issues to personal entrapment. It is believed that many homeless individual failed in their lives to cope with their difficulties and this makes them alienate themselves from the rest of the world.

There are many effects of homelessness on individuals.

1. Health- homeless people often encounter a lot of health issues in their lives. Their health gets worse from time to time because they lack attention from people such as doctors, wives, husbands, and family members. And because of lack of necessities they suffer from multiple diseases such as:

Cold Injury
Cardio-Respiratory diseases
Tuberculosis.
Skin diseases
Nutritional deficiencies
Sleep deprivation.
Mental Illness
Physical and sexual assault
Drug dependency
Mortality
HIV/AIDS
2. Personal – at the time when a homeless person realizes that he/she won’t have a roof to live under forever. It is hard for them to believe. It is this fact of not dealing with reality that makes homeless people less able to take actions, but they suffer psychologically as a result.
Here some of the consequences:

Loss of self esteem
Becoming institutionalized
Increase in substance misuse
Loss of ability and will to care for oneself
Increased danger of abuse and violence
Increased chance of entering the criminal justice system
Development of behavioral problems

 

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"Many faces of homelessness"
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Many faces of homelessness

The homelessness issue has many facets. There are people who choose to be homeless and mind their own business; there are people who are forced into homelessness by economics. Those are not the people who are creating problems in communities across the state and the nation, often while suffering greatly themselves.

Is it a matter of money or a matter of will that we can’t seem to address mental illness and its massive effects on Oregon’s livability? According to the Legislature’s own reckoning, the adopted budget for the 2017-19 biennium is $74.39 billion, an increase of $2.569 billion from the 2015-17 budget. Yes, much of that money is in dedicated funds and can’t be spent elsewhere, but somebody dedicated it.

Perhaps while the state spends $74.39 billion, somebody could decide that it’s time we dedicate ourselves to addressing mental illness.

 

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"Mahatma Gandhi: A Soldier of Peace"
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Mahatma Gandhi: A Soldier of Peace

Gandhi taught that the strength of a man and of a nation lies not in its military might, weaponry, or brawn, but in an unrelenting resolve in commitment to an ideal. Gandhi asserted, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” (Gandhi), where “strength” does not represent bodily or military might but instead strength of character and the ability to withstand unspeakable oppression--in this case, British oppression. According to Gandhi, that strength comes from an “indomitable will”, or an unrelenting resolve, which represents an inflexible commitment to the ideals and vision one is pursuing. Therefore, Gandhi believed that strength ultimately “comes from” commitment to an ideal--the very thing that makes one a patriot. Gandhi believed this strength of character was not only the main weapon of the Indians against the British but also that this moral strength was far more powerful than the guns, cannons, and tanks of the British. Gandhi argued that the strength of a man and a nation rests in an unshakable commitment to an ideal.

 

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"US has bases all over the world, do we need more troops?"
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US has bases all over the world, do we need more troops?

The United States also has a global presence unlike any other nation, with about 200,000 active troops deployed in more than 170 countries.

Many are stationed in allied nations in Europe and northeastern Asia. Mr. Trump has criticized these alliances, saying the United States does too much to defend its allies. It seems unlikely, then, that Mr. Trump intends his spending increase to bolster those deployments.

“The general concept of readiness often happens without a conversation about what the forces are for,” said Benjamin H. Friedman, a research fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. “They don’t know exactly what they want to do, except that they want a bigger military.”

 

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"Did victory change American thinking?"
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Did victory change American thinking?

Americans lived in a "victory culture" for much of the 20th century. You could say that we experienced an almost 75-year stretch of triumphalism - think of it as the real "American Century" - from World War I to the end of the Cold War, with time off for a destructive stalemate in Korea and a defeat in Vietnam too shocking to absorb or shake off.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, it all seemed so obvious. Fate had clearly dealt Washington a royal flush. It was victory with a capital V. The United States was, after all, the last standing superpower, after centuries of unceasing great power rivalries on the planet. It had a military beyond compare and no enemy, hardly a "rogue state", on the horizon. It was almost unnerving, such clear sailing into a dominant future, but a moment for the ages nonetheless. Within a decade, pundits in Washington were hailing us as "the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome".

 

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"Military keeps getting smaller, members often isolated"
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Military keeps getting smaller, members often isolated

While the U.S. waged a war in Vietnam 50 years ago with 2.7 million men conscripted from every segment of society, less than one-half of 1% of the U.S. population is in the armed services today — the lowest rate since World War II. America's recent wars are authorized by a U.S. Congress whose members have the lowest rate of military service in history, led by three successive commanders in chief who never served on active duty.

Surveys suggest that as many as 80% of those who serve come from a family in which a parent or sibling is also in the military. They often live in relative isolation — behind the gates of military installations such as Ft. Bragg or in the deeply military communities like Fayetteville, N.C., that surround them.

The segregation is so pronounced that it can be traced on a map: Some 49% of the 1.3 million active-duty service members in the U.S. are concentrated in just five states — California, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.

 

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"French perspective on US Army"
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French perspective on US Army

“French here, I served in Afghanistan. Americans have the best equipement, more food but worse food. No alcohol…Also the training from what I gathered is quite different.

The initial training and the first few years are the hardest, it’s mostly based on endurance and deprivations (sleep, food etc). Which as I’ve understood is quite different from the Americans, apart from the initial training it’s mostly actual physical preparation (alike an athlete).
Overall french soldiers and american soldiers tend to have a very different physique, which funnily enough each side takes great pride in. Americans soldiers work a lot on strength (training at the gym is pretty unusual in the french military) and run a calorie surplus so they tend to be pretty big (im making generalizations of course) and it seems being big gets you a lot of respect. In the French military it’s the guy who can run the most, can do 100 pull ups etc, and if you put up too much muscle you’re mocked as a”bodybuilder” which is not a compliment.”

 

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"Serve Your Country"
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Serve Your Country

Stanton Coerr, a Marine officer who served in Iraq, wrote in The Federalist, “No one is in the military against his or her will. A veteran’s service in a war is significant not because we are special, but precisely because we aren’t. We volunteered, we went, we did what the nation asked.” Patriotism – love for one’s country – is a powerful incentive to join the military, and veterans are among those most respected by a thankful nation.

For decades, U.S. citizens have ranked the military as the institution in which they have the most confidence. According to a Gallup poll, the military has ranked above the church, the medical system, and banks. The number of those polled were 9 to 12 times more likely to have confidence in the armed services than big business and Congress respectively. A Pew Research Center poll ranked the military’s contribution to society higher than teachers, doctors, scientists or engineers, and Army veteran Jason Nulton noted for Task & Purpose that “troops today are held in high esteem by the public no matter how much the war itself might be hated.”

 

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"The military gives you the skills to improve"
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The military gives you the skills to improve

A word of advice to any young person who sees the military as an escape from the challenges and difficulties of life, it ain’t that simple. If you think that enlisting in the military is how you want to pursue getting a college degree, you better read the small print. When you join the military, basic training is preparing you to become a soldier. MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) training is preparing you to do a job, a job that helps you to serve your country. You do not enlist in the military to get an education, you enlist to become a soldier. The pursuit of higher education is in your hands. The opportunities are available on just about any military base in the world. But here’s the thing, do not expect someone to guide you to those opportunities or for someone to come and tell you when and where to sign up for college courses. That’s your responsibility. Simply put, it’s just like being a civilian. You must be focused and discipline yourself to get everything out of it that they make available. Military bases are a microcosm of broader society. There are people who pursue education and those who don’t. There are those who get paid, party and spend their money frivolously and those who don’t. As a young person, the military doesn’t change you but it will give you the tools to change. You can choose to use them or not.

 

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"Military pay is more than adequate"
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Military pay is more than adequate

Pay and benefits. A new second lieutenant starts at over $36,000 a year plus full benefits, not including added monthly allowances of up to $3,000, depending on where he or she is stationed. An enlisted person starts at around $20,000 a year plus full benefits, not including added monthly allowances of up to $1,500 depending on where he or she is stationed. Enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses can be over $20,000. After serving only 3 years, some nuclear trained enlisted members in the Navy receive bonuses of $90,000 for re-enlisting. Student loans can be relieved by up to $65,000. The military is also one of the few places where you can get a full pension after serving 20 years or more. Military retirement can reach 50-75% of the average of your final three years base salary. In some instances, you can receive more than 75% of your base pay in retirement.

 

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"New laws create amazing opportunities for those who serve"
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New laws create amazing opportunities for those who serve

With the signing of the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 — creating what’s known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill — the government provides veterans a launchpad for their lives. In a study by the RAND Corp., 24% of veterans, active-duty military, and eligible dependents surveyed reported that the existence of the new GI Bill drove their decision to enroll in higher education. For the nearly one-quarter of people eligible for the 9/11 GI Bill who are pursuing higher education, job prospects and job security after the military will improve versus if they had opted for a different career path without the possibility of a four-year degree. A look at unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that in 2015, people with only a high school diploma registered at 5.6% unemployed, compared to less than half that, 2.5%, of people with four-year degrees.

 

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"It’s never a good time to join the military"
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It’s never a good time to join the military

Right this moment, I don’t wish to have the huge, overarching, “Is Joining the U.S. Military a Heroic Act of Public Service or a Dastardly Scheme to Press Poor People Into the Service of Imperialism” argument. (There will be plenty of time for that in years to come, or feel free to look up various iterations of it from our parents and grandparents’ generations.) Let us stipulate that the question of the fundamental rightness or wrongness of the existence and historical use of a powerful, global U.S. military is a question that we may not fully solve in the course of this blog post. There are many people who, for political reasons, would never consider joining the U.S. military in the first place, barring some WWII-level catastrophic need; there are others who consider joining the military to be a patriotic duty and have a deep contempt for those they see as shirking that duty.

 

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"A parental nightmare"
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A parental nightmare

Your teen has finally become a high school senior! Congratulations!! Now all the hard work and preparation for adulthood has come to a peak! They will be caught up in a whirlwind of planning and preparing for that one final step to adulthood...graduation! You are so excited and then...your teen says, "Mom, Dad, I want to enlist! I talked to the recruiter today at school." You try to hide the horror in your heart with a pasted on smile and say, "Really??" When, not so deep inside, you want to scream, "You've GOT to be kidding me!!!" While you pretend to hear their well-rehearsed response, take a deep breath and think before you go completely off the deep end. I have two sons who each gave me the above scenario. We have all survived, intact.

 

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"There is a price to pay…"
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There is a price to pay…

An apology is not nearly enough. There need to be arrests, trials and hangings. Anything less will be window dressing and we will forever be known as the 21st century version of Nazi Germany. If an apology is good enough for mass murdering liars, then we should empty the prisons where many people are locked up for crimes that are minuscule in comparison. There has never been a serial killer whose murders begin to even come close to where these ghouls are. Arrest, try and execute those who have no right to breathe the same air as the rest of us. They are enemies of humanity. How many killers have been executed for killing ONE person...we are talking about hundreds of thousands of murders and wrongful deaths..from US servicemen and women to entire families...they can apologize before the hanging.

 

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"What happened to America’s soul?"
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What happened to America’s soul?

An apology is not nearly enough. There need to be arrests, trials and hangings. Anything less will be window dressing and we will forever be known as the 21st century version of Nazi Germany. If an apology is good enough for mass murdering liars, then we should empty the prisons where many people are locked up for crimes that are minuscule in comparison. There has never been a serial killer whose murders begin to even come close to where these ghouls are. Arrest, try and execute those who have no right to breathe the same air as the rest of us. They are enemies of humanity. How many killers have been executed for killing ONE person...we are talking about hundreds of thousands of murders and wrongful deaths..from US servicemen and women to entire families...they can apologize before the hanging.

 

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"What was accomplished in Iraq?"
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What was accomplished in Iraq?

What did we accomplish in Iraq besides the toppling of Saddam Hussein? Not much. America’s “mission accomplished” has created an unstable, economically devastated nation that will be yet another constant source of instability for the whole Middle East. Did the $53 billion we spent on reconstruction projects or "nation building," work in Iraq? No. As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. According to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency, more than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted -- more than 10 percent of the amount the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq.

 

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"Only mistake made in Iraq was leaving Iraq"
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Only mistake made in Iraq was leaving Iraq

In the Daily Telegraph in 2016, Bolton wrote that: “Iraq today suffers not from the 2003 invasion, but from the 2011 withdrawal of all US combat forces. What strengthened Iran’s hand in Iraq was not the absence of Saddam [Hussein], but the absence of coalition troops with a writ to crush efforts by the ayatollahs to support and arm Shi’ite militias. When US forces left, the last possibility of Iraq succeeding as a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state left with them. Don’t blame Tony Blair and George W Bush for that failure. Blame their successors.”

 

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"Links between Iraq and al Qaeda"
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Links between Iraq and al Qaeda

Since we began after Sep. 11th, we do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training. And when I say contacts, I mean between Iraq and al Qaeda. The reports of these contacts have been increasing since 1998. We have what we believe to be credible information that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq, reciprocal nonaggression discussions. We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapon of -- weapons of mass destruction capabilities. We do have -- I believe it's one report indicating that Iraq provided unspecified training relating to chemical and/or biological matters for al Qaeda members. There is, I'm told, also some other information of varying degrees of reliability that supports that conclusion of their cooperation."

 

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"Dogs treated better than detainees in Iraq"
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Dogs treated better than detainees in Iraq

If a dog were to be subjected to the type of treatment Iraqi prisoners receive at the hands of some U.S. contractors, the people responsible would be arrested. I was witness to this on a very personal level and ultimately, forced to erase the video footage from my television camera. I didn't feel like I was watching the actions of Americans, instead I thought of groups like the former KGB in the Soviet Union who were known torturers and sadistic government agents free of things like laws and court inquiries.

On this night, U.S. Army Intelligence was complicit in the illegal operations of the other kind of civilian soldier; one not in the military at all. They work for companies like Blackwater. The fact that I had to erase the video footage, in my opinion, amounts simply to a purging of evidence. Exactly where the lines of humanity and decency are drawn in this country appear to be largely unknown.

Tim King

 

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"Singing the Marine Corps blues"
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Singing the Marine Corps blues

Once a Marine recruit hits the actual training process in basic, they quickly learn that they have little to say about their immediate future, as evidenced by this song.

Mama mama can't you see?
What the Marine Corp's done to me
Signed me up for Motor T
But now I hump with infantry

If I die before the dawn
I'll be home before too long
Fold my arms across my chest
And tell my mom I done my best
--- Marine boot camp song

 

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"Recruiters will tell you anything."
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Recruiters will tell you anything.

Many recruiters are hard-working, honest, and trustworthy; tasked to do one of the most difficult jobs in the military. However, military recruiting is a numbers game, pure and simple. Recruiter careers are made and broken based on whether or not they can meet their monthly quotas (called "goals" in the recruiting world). Keep in mind (depending on the service branch), most recruiters are non-volunteers. Some never wanted the job in the first place, but -- once selected -- are told that the prospect of returning to their previous jobs after three or four years of recruiting duty with an unblemished service record depends primarily upon making their goals.

 

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"Time to get out"
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Time to get out

'Rahm would tell me it'd be much easier to do what I want to do by saying no,' the president said. He could then focus on the domestic agenda that he wanted to be the heart of his presidency. The military did not understand. 'Politically, what these guys don't get is it'd be a lot easier for me to go out and give a speech saying, 'You know what? The American people are sick of this war, and we're going to get out of there.”

 

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"US didn’t have a reason to invade in the first place"
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US didn’t have a reason to invade in the first place

Osama bin Laden claimed from the beginning that he had nothing to do with 911. Taliban offered to hand bin Laden over to the US willingly if they could supply proof of his involvement in the US attacks. The war in Afghanistan was part of a series of wars directly started by the US over bad information, strictly for profit and US dominance over world policy.

 

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"No end war"
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No end war

"Forget about 'exit strategies': we're looking at a sustained engagement that carries no deadlines. We have no fixed rules about how to deploy our troops; we'll instead establish guidelines to determine whether military force is the best way to achieve a given objective."

 

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"Woman abusers have no manhood"
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Woman abusers have no manhood

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway.


 

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"The Jihad continues until peace and independence prevail"
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The Jihad continues until peace and independence prevail

I am ready to sacrifice everything in completing the unfinished agenda of our noble jihad... until there is no bloodshed in Afghanistan and Islam becomes a way of life for our people.


 

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"A nation where revenge is a priority"
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A nation where revenge is a priority

“I saw houses burned by the Mujahadeen, as well as disfigured bodies of prisoners they’d taken. But I saw other things too: villages destroyed by our shelling and bodies of women, killed by mistake. When you shoot at every rustling in the bushes, there’s no time to think about who’s there. But for an Afghan, it didn’t matter if his wife had been killed intentionally or accidentally. He went into the mountains to see revenge.”


 

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"A history of war"
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A history of war

“Even the air of this country has a story to tell about warfare. It is possible here to lift a piece of bread from a plate and following it back to its origins, collect a dozen stories concerning war-how it affected the hand that pulled it out of the oven, the hand that kneaded the dough, how war impinged upon the field where wheat was grown.”


 

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"Kipling’s reality check"
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Kipling’s reality check

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.


 

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"Only photos remain"
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Only photos remain

“The photos I took in Afghanistan are lying in front of me. I peer into the faces of those who were with me there and who are so far away from me now, into the faces of those who were dying right next to me and those who were hiding behind my back. I can make these photos larger or smaller, darker or lighter. But what I can't do is bring back those who are gone forever.”

 

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"When does it end?"
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When does it end?

“First Afghanistan, now Iraq. So who's next? Syria? North Korea? Iran? Where will it all end?' If these illegal interventions are permitted to continue, the implication seems to be, pretty soon, horror of horrors, no murderously repressive regimes might remain.”


 

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