Looking Back at the Fateful Year of 2014

by marthastephens

      REMEMBER this image, my friends?  Is War still not healthy?  Would Peace be slightly better for us and the world . . . ?
How would it be for this grandma if they came to tell me this evening that the militias were approaching and I should be gone from my house by eight of the clock?  


          HEY, I’VE BEEN ON LEAVE from this little bejesus of a blog for several months, and I most humbly beg your pardon, though I’m sure my absences are no more noticed than my presence is.  I’ve been working on the final segments of a book manuscript which tries to chronicle my whole forsaken life — of action and non-action (take your pick).  It’s called Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad, and it compares my grandma life to the lives of the grandmas who lived (and died) under my bombs in Operation Iraqui Freedom.

In any case — what’s happening?  And how do we feel about it?  

Are we hoping, by chance, that the Ferguson movement will join in with the bold strikers at the Walmarts and Fast Foods?

                                                      The War Party 

ON NOVEMBER 4, we watched the War Party capture the Senate, the self-same proto-Bush grouping that afforded us the great tragedies of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a party now softening us up, we fear, for an even more massive conflict — that will not bring well-being but only more violence, more death to the Middle East.

The War Party is also, in my view, a Hunger Party.  Starvation of citizens may be a good thing for those who feel we have too many food-stamp, work-shy individuals — just drains on the resources of the country.  Such a party, you may recall, arose in Germany in the late twenties, soon went after the trade unions and all workers’ rights, then the gypsies, eventually the Jews  and all opponents.  In short, this was a party that wanted, like our War Party today, to be the ONLY party, to build up its armaments, invade everywhere at once, and rule the entire world!

                                                   The Greenies

IF, BY THE WAY, you happen to care about the Green Party, you may wish to know that in my Ohio a Latina woman running for governor received over 96,000 votes!  This friend, Anita Rios, grew up in Toledo, Ohio, with immigrant parents and seven siblings in a small cottage on a working-class street.  This fall some of us Greenies had a good long talk with her and her lieutenant governor at a gathering overlooking that famous river of ours in Cincinnati.  Rios is a good true visionary Green, interested in the rescue of what is left of Mama Earth and devoted to fair play for all citizens and a no-more-wars democracy.   My family was more than happy to vote for her (and knew that the Democrats couldn’t possibly win).  The Vote doesn’t much matter any more, but we must Fight On All Fronts, it seems to me, including the electoral front when that makes sense, though I feel that we won’t take back the country until we wage a mass movement in the streets!


Martha with Don Rucknagel and Green Party banner in July 4 Parade in Cincinnati

May life on Planet Earth last long enough for our corporate walmartian rulers to have to hide themselves — and the Greens around the world to prevail!

                   Any Hope For Our Poor Little Globe?

FOR NOW, WAR SEEMS TO BE ENGULFING the earth, my friends.  Is there any hope our little globe can survive such holocausts for long?  We think of Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, Boko Haram, and of course ISIS in Iraq, a place torn brutally apart by the U. S. invasions there, left open to pitiless tribal warfare.

We read that much of life in the great historic city of Mosul lies in ruins.  Huge numbers of refugees have fled the wreckage of their homes, their water, food, hospitals.  I find an image of an older, heavy-set woman sitting against a high wall.  I see her kerchief and patterned skirts.  A child is reclining haplessly against her legs.  The dusty wall behind them is somewhere south of the town of Mosul.  It seems there is little chance even for drinks of cold water, and this woman is saying weakly to an interlocutor, her eyes almost shut in half-dazed fatigue, “I only hope I don’t survive for long.”

And again how would it be for me if they came to tell me this evening that the militias were approaching and I should be gone from my house by eight of the clock?

                                     Marches for Gaza


Martha with Bob Turansky on Fountain Square in Cincinnati 

IN AUGUST of this plague year, I marched through downtown Cincinnati with hundreds of other souls in grief over the deadly assaults in Gaza.  I went because I was ashamed that my money, my taxes, were buying the bombs falling on the homes and hospitals, schools and plants of Gaza.   I’m not for the rockets over Israel either; I don’t quite see the point of that, but under the Israeli bombs in Gaza lay thousands of dead — mostly civilians, we learned, over a third children.   

In Cincinnati we heard fiery speeches on Fountain Square by Palestinians and other Middle Easterners.  My Jewish friend Bob Turansky had picked me up at home, and we had set some old placards on my dining room table and pasted up new messages over the old ones.  Mine said, Save Gaza.  Stop U. S. Arms to Israel.  Bob’s said Jews for Justice — Israel, lift the blockade.  

On Fountain Square this message of his attracted a lot of attention from the Middle Easterners, and two t. v. reporters took Bob off to the side for extended interviews.  Why would a Jew, they wanted to know, be so disturbed by the assault on Gaza?  Shy Middle Eastern women came round with their phones to take pictures of Bob and me and our signs.

I SUPPOSE that when all us Earthlings are gone, strangers from outer space may find our phones in the soil of Mother Earth, along with our rusted bullhorns and the dirty shards of our banners. They may pick up a crumpled placard and ask themselves what it meant.  Jews for Justice?

Perhaps these strangers will stand thinking for a time, looking out over our desiccated earth and our placards for peace.  Then I can imagine what they might say of us.  “These people tried, at least.  They tried to save themselves.”  ##

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