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Thankfulness Buried in the Rubble

By Robert C. Koehler Much as I love Thanksgiving — seeing my family . . . oh the turkey, oh the cranberry sauce —I feel like maybe a bomb fragment has hit the “thanks” part. I find myself struggling to let a sense of thankfulness flow, because when I do — and doing so has […] more

Turning Conflict into Music?

By Robert C. Koehler Is the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem? “. . . I came to understand the role some in the U.S. government have played to intentionally catalyze war, fueling arms sales globally, without regard for the consequences. The consequences are here! “We are cartwheeling towards a massive East v. West war with […] more

Militarism vs. Our Shared Humanity

By Robert C. Koehler Sitting safely at my desk, looking at photos of bombed buildings and knowing that missing children are buried under the rubble, imagining (unavoidably) what this must feel like . . . oh my God, empathy gives way to horror. Move on, I tell myself. Write about something else. All wars are […] more

Let’s Stop Dehumanizing the Future

By Robert C. Koehler We — by which I mean most of humanity — are still playing with the so-called “just war theory,” the intellectual justification for war dating back to St. Augustine and the early centuries of the Common Era. You know, violence is morally neutral — and thus, when the cause is just […] more

Igniting a Peace Fire, Even as War Rages

By Robert C. Koehler Here’s some advice you probably never got about parenting: Write your child’s name on his or her leg or stomach, so that if — when — your building is bombed, the child can be identified when she’s pulled from the rubble. Apparently, mothers in southern Gaza are doing this now, as […] more

Peace Means Embracing What We Fear

By Robert C. Koehler “In the midst of our grief and pain, let’s remind each other who we are.” These are the words of Stefanie Fox, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. She goes on: “We are people committed to tikkun olam, the repairing of the world. The Israeli government and U.S. government are […] more

Hell Is Not Predestined

By Robert C. Koehler Humanity’s cancer shows up in Israel and Palestine. Missiles fly, hell makes global headlines, thousands of people die, many of them (oh God, of course) children. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declares: “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly. . . . We are imposing a complete siege on […] more

Hardening Ourselves into Weapons

By Robert C. Koehler Something happened on Tuesday, as I began researching this column — I wound up having to give myself a COVID test. A good friend had just tested positive and, well, we had recently gotten together. I needed to see if I was OK. I note this not because there was bad […] more

The Truth May Hurt, But We Still Have To Face It

If the right gets its way, maybe in a decade or two, the United States will be free of its slave-owning past. All gone – gone with the wind. It’s just not taught anymore. Yeah, we had a civil war – about “states’ rights” – and then we moved on: We conquered the West, saved […] more

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