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Floating for Peace on the Golden Rule

By Robert C. Koehler It’s 10 p.m. at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. Kiko and Tamar help me step from the dock into the wobbly rowboat. Kiko rows us out to the Golden Rule and I climb aboard in wonder. Oh my God! This is it – the 30-foot, anti-nuke sailboat with a history going back […] more

Depleted Uranium Won’t Bring Peace to Ukraine

By Robert C. Koehler Freedom’s just another word for . . . blowing up your children? Giving them cancer? Militarism is obsolete, for God’s sake. Its technology is out of control. The latest shred of news that has left me stunned and terror-stricken is this, as reported by Reuters: “The Biden administration will for the […] more

Creating Art: If It’s Fun, It’s Alive

By Robert C. Koehler As I trek toward the Great Unknown, as life’s struggles seem to intensify, some odd questions keep recurring. Art — what is it again? Why does it matter? How does it matter? What does it mean to be “good” at it? That last question, in particular, can cut like barbed wire […] more

Taking Life for Granted

By Robert C. Koehler Realizing that I’ve been taking something for granted — one grain of infinity — is never an abstraction. It generally happens by whack and wallop. Oh yeah, the knee. The knee. It’s kind of important. A crucial part of the realization process is acknowledgment. Maybe even learning something. So, pardon the […] more

The Nuclear Apple

By Robert C. Koehler “The greatest danger to human civilization and the planet is the inability to believe that tomorrow can be different . . .” So writes Derek Johnson of the Global Zero movement, an organization committed to a world free of nuclear weapons. Let’s put it this way: If we can cooperate in […] more

Water Is Life — for the Privileged

By Robert C. Koehler As the heatwave intensifies across the country, as workers exposed to the heat collapse on the job in increasing numbers — some of them die — Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed a law nullifying local ordinances in the state that require ten-minute heat and water breaks for those who […] more

National Policy Wrapped in Razor Wire

By Robert C. Koehler “A 4-year-old girl passed out in 100-degree heat after she was pushed back toward Mexico by Texas National Guard personnel. A pregnant woman became trapped in razor wire and had a miscarriage. A state trooper said he was under orders not to give migrants any water.” Yes, these are scenes from […] more

Facing Climate Change as One World

By Robert C. Koehler “. . . we need to do everything we can to keep (global) warming as low as possible.” When it comes to climate change, one two-letter word has me totally perplexed: “we.” There’s an implication of global unity — a transcendent “we,” marching as to war (so to speak) — facing […] more

Listening to Oppenheimer, Seven Decades Later

By Robert C. Koehler A mere 55 years after his death, the U.S. government has restored J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance, which the Atomic Energy Commission had taken away from him in 1954, declaring him to be not simply a communist but, in all likelihood, a Soviet spy. Oppenheimer, of course, is the father of […] more

Spare the Handcuffs, Spoil the Child

By Robert C. Koehler A tiny piece of news out of Florida the other day poked me, you might say, in the rear end. The nation’s prison population — we’re number one! — expanded slightly, as did the concept of crime itself. A couple in Daytona Beach, Florida — two police officers — put their […] more

It’s Time To Stop the ‘Insect Apocalypse’

By Robert C. Koehler I was reading about bumble bees recently — specifically, their looming demise, thanks to human greed and ignorance — and started thinking about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We should have eaten from it! Well, we did, but then apparently upchucked everything we learned and, in the […] more

‘The Enemy Is Not a Human Being’

By Robert C. Koehler There’s a crucial, overlooked aspect of Daniel Ellsberg’s legacy that’s very much worth saluting, you might say: his transformation from a believer in the Vietnam war to a horrified opponent of it, ready to risk prison time to bring classified truth about its pointlessness into public awareness. Ellsberg, who died on […] more

JFK and ‘Peace for All Time’

By Robert C. Koehler Was he kidding? Are these words for real? “I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived — yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.” This was sixty years ago: […] more

Religion Pops out of Pandora’s Box

By Robert C. Koehler “One nation, under God . . .” Interesting addition to the Pledge, considering, you know, the separation of church and state. I actually remember it — it was 1954. I was in third grade, and had been reciting the Pledge with my classmates every morning for several years by then. I […] more

Disconnecting War from Its Consequences

By Robert C. Koehler Twenty-two years ago, Congress put sanity up for a vote. Sanity lost in the House, 420-1. It lost in the Senate, 98-0. Barbara Lee’s lone vote for sanity — that is to say, her vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution, allowing the president to make war […] more

Creating a Cooperative World?

By Robert C. Koehler “Go back to where you came from.” This is basic American politics – what I might call spiritual ignorance: a dismissal of refugees fleeing war, famine and poverty as global sludge, clogging up our way of life. So many media stories about the border – our border – begin with an […] more

Stepping over the Border, onto Planet Earth

By Robert C. Koehler “. . . we belong to the Earth rather than to a nation . . .” These words stick in my heart like a wedding ring. They emanate a cutting glow, a crying wish and hope that slices to the core of me. At the same time, I feel surrounded by […] more

Lost Souls with Nukes

By Robert C. Koehler More mass killings. More bloody “normal” — not just in Texas, not just in the United States, but around the world. Eerily, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott inadvertently reminded us of the international nature of this scourge when he referred to five recent murder victims, in a tweet announcing a $50,000 reward […] more

Killing Our Way to the Truth

By Robert C. Koehler Hey China, quit threatening us! We’ll kick your ass. Yeah, bad China, maybe worse than Russia, e.g.: “The People’s Republic of China, which is increasingly challenging the United States economically, technologically, politically and militarily around the world, remains our unparalleled priority.” The words are those of Avril Haines, director of national […] more

Love Thy Neighbor: A National Conversation

By Robert C. Koehler Can we form a circle big enough to fit 330 million Americans? Do we have enough folding chairs? I don’t know, but somehow we’ve got to launch a national conversation about . . . war, security, guns, fear and, oh God, the global future. Ultimately we need to pull the whole […] more

Revisiting the Counterculture

By Robert C. Koehler When’s the last time you had your mind blown? Was this something that only happened in the 1960s? Well, I had my mind blown a few days ago, when I took part in a sort of reunion I could never have imagined. It wasn’t a “reunion” so much as a reopening […] more

Mass Murder: Our Wounded Humanity

By Robert C. Koehler Once again . . . once again . . . once again . . . I’m sure you know what I’m referring to. Yeah, another — the latest (?) — mass shooting in the United States, this one at Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 10, two days ago […] more

From Heaven to Bali: Taro’s Journey

By Robert C. Koehler “At school he was told he would never write . . .” Here was a kid – here was a man – who refused to listen to the authorities, and refused to be anything but fully human. And yeah, he could write. His spelling may have been iffy, but he could […] more

Murder, and War, Begin with Dehumanization

By Robert C. Koehler “Chief Drake said it was too early to discuss a possible motive for the shooting, though he confirmed that the attack was targeted. The authorities were reviewing writings, and had made contact with the shooter’s father. . . .” Yeah, they’ll figure it out. The latest mass shooting: Six people dead, […] more

Blowing Out the Candles in Iraq

By Robert C. Koehler I read the news – invasion of Iraq! twentieth anniversary! – and struggle to transcend the abstraction of my remorse. A million killed? Half a million? The mortality stats vary depending on the source’s politics. But beyond the numbers looms an indifference that defines what is called “news.” “Today, 20 years […] more