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Untangling Ourselves from the Dark Side

By Robert C. Koehler Guess what? I direct the following insight to, among others, the U.S. Congress, which annually and without comment, with only a few objectors, passes a trillion-dollar (and growing) military budget, by far the largest such budget on Planet Earth. “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” The words are those […]

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The Myth of the Good War

By Robert C. Koehler Love thy enemy? I get a chance to do so on a regular basis, thanks to the email (or nasty-mail) I sometimes get in response to my column, e.g.: “Must be a dearth of anyone with anything intelligent to say for the News to put your drivel out for us to […]

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Do We Dare Stop Being Afraid of Ourselves?

By Robert C. Koehler What’s your story? We tell stories, which evolve into myths — and myths are what hold us together. They create the collective entity known as the human race. And myths evolve. At least, good God, I hope they do. We’re stuck, right now, in the myth of collective suicide, more generally […]

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Poisoning Ourselves with War

By Robert C. Koehler War spews hell in all directions. Just ask the guys at Talon Anvil, a secret U.S. “strike cell” recently exposed by the New York Times as a unit with a reputation for ignoring the rules of engagement and killing lots and lots of civilians with drone strikes as it plays war […]

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Mass Murder: New Victims, Same Old Questions

By Robert C. Koehler Four students dead, six more, plus a teacher, wounded. Can you believe – another mass shooting last week. This one north of Detroit, at Oxford High School. A 15-year-old boy – and his parents – were arrested. While the shock and collective horror are still fresh, before the news cycle moves […]

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Our Shackled Planet

By Robert C. Koehler “Protecting the border” is essentially the same thing as protecting your own property, right? You’ve got to protect it from invaders, thieves — lawless jerks who want what you have. If you’re rich and paranoid, then you have no doubt that’s what refugees are, especially down there at the southern U.S. […]

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Reclaiming a Lost Sense of Community

By Robert C. Koehler The first time it happened was bad enough. “It” amounted to this: It was Wednesday afternoon, I had finished my column early and walked out to my car, parked in the alley behind my house. I was on my way to an art show — very excited. I got in the […]

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National Defense and Dead Children

By Robert C. Koehler A new defense budget looms. Maybe we’re running out of wars to fight, but no matter. The proposed figure before Congress is bigger than ever: $778 billion. How fascinating — and how irrelevant — that the vote is scheduled just a few days after the New York Times published its investigation […]

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American History: Let’s Face the Truth

By Robert C. Koehler When you’re losing the game, summon the commies! And conservative white America has been losing for quite some time — losing control of the future, that is. The good old days of unabated white supremacy aren’t coming back; racism can only maintain a public forum, and political relevance, if it’s wrapped […]

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A World Without Money

By Robert C. Koehler And climate change begins . . . “Three or four thousand years ago the gods began a migration from the lakes, forests, rivers, and mountains into the sky, becoming the imperial overlords of nature rather than its essence.” So writes Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics, defining a transition in human existence […]

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The Myth of Redemptive Violence

By Robert C. Koehler Several million dollars’ worth of fiction exploded the other day, leaving cinematographer Halyna Hutchins — age 42, a wife, a mom — dead, and plunging Alec Baldwin, who accidentally shot her, into a state of unimaginable hell. This happened on Oct. 21, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the set of […]

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Assange: A Threat to War Itself

By Robert C. Koehler The Pentagon’s offer of “condolence money” to the relatives of the ten people (seven of them children) who were killed in the final U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan — originally declared righteous and necessary — bears a troubling connection to the government’s ongoing efforts to get its hands on WikiLeaks founder […]

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A Zen Koan on Columbus Day

By Robert C. Koehler It’s too easy, right? Too simple — shoving Christopher Columbus off the historical honor roll, pulling down his statues, yanking his “day” away from him and renaming it in honor of the people he murdered, kidnapped, turned into property? Or is Indigenous Peoples Day seen by the world as simply a […]

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Wrestling with Infinity

By Robert C. Koehler I use walking sticks when I walk nowadays, kind of like cross-country skiing in late summer, but I had no idea doing so would connect me with a guy named Joe and open a flow of aching love and the deep desire to matter. “Can I give you a cane?” he […]

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Separating the Cross and the Sword

By Robert C. Koehler What is a gaffe but an inadvertent uttering of an awkward truth? For instance: “This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” The “gaffe” part of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 announcement that the War on Terror had begun was, of course, his calling it a crusade. Doing […]

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Women’s Rights: Afghanistan and Beyond

By Robert C. Koehler Suddenly there’s major concern across the country — from the mainstream media to every last rock-ribbed Republican — for the rights of Afghan women and girls to be able to work, to go to school. Oh my God, we’ve given Afghanistan back to the Taliban! Even George W. Bush found his […]

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A National Rite of Passage: Beyond War

By Robert C. Koehler A recent New York Times op-ed was perhaps the strangest, most awkward and tentative defense of the military-industrial complex — excuse me, the experiment in democracy called America — I’ve ever encountered, and begs to be addressed. The writer, Andrew Exum, was an Army Ranger who had deployments in the early […]

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Letting the Future Out of Its Cage

By Robert C. Koehler We pretend to have enemies, but mostly what we “have” are people whose lives simply don’t matter. And then we kill them, either directly — via airstrikes or other war games, turning them into collateral damage — or indirectly . . . by simply failing to notice that they exist. The […]

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After Afghanistan . . . a Truth Commission?

By Robert C. Koehler “Ten members of one family — including seven children — are dead after a US drone strike targeting a vehicle in a residential neighborhood of Kabul . . . “The youngest victims of Sunday’s airstrike were two 2-year-old girls, according to family members. “Relatives found the remains of one of the […]

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Growing Old in the Newborn Universe

By Robert C. Koehler That link between age and wisdom — is it just a joke? Suddenly I’m curious in a real way. I just turned . . . 75. There’s a significance to that number that isn’t abstract, and I’m having a hard time ignoring it. Perhaps it has more to do with cataracts […]

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War, Herbicides and Moral Disengagement

By Robert C. Koehler And the least secret agent of all . . . Agent Orange! On August 10, 1961, the United States, several years before it actually sent troops, started poisoning the forests and crops of Vietnam with herbicides. The purpose: to deprive our declared enemy, the commies of Ho Chi Minh, of food […]

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Is a United World Possible?

By Robert C. Koehler What if . . . ? I get lost — tangled in doubt and cynicism — when I try to pose the question in a more specific way. What if . . . a collective human voice could be heard, crying out across the borders as the pandemic surges, as the […]

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Democracy: Enemy of the Powerful

By Robert C. Koehler Perhaps the best possible thing we could acknowledge being is a “divided nation.” Failing to do so justifies — or at least avoids noticing — all manner of violent cruelty and repression in the name of so-called democracy, from the jailing of whistleblowers who reveal U.S. war crimes and global criminality, […]

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Civilizing the Savage

By Robert C. Koehler We crossed the Atlantic, encountered a bunch of savages, defeated them, claimed the continent. We won! This is the history I remember learning, as satisfying and stupid as a John Wayne movie. The myth is crumbling and cracking, its certainty now as precarious as the statue of a Confederate general. Truth […]

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Moral Intelligence or Nuclear War

By Robert C. Koehler Let’s dance at the border! One of these days, something will give — the rich, the powerful will suddenly look around cluelessly. What’s happening? Awareness will sweep across the planet: We are one, and life is sacred. This consciousness will even invade political life and what I call moral intelligence will […]

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