Re: attack on Iran: “Why know this stuff? I can’t do a damn thing about it!”


Richard Moore

Dear friends,

A few days ago, I posted an article, "Why I think 
there WILL be an attack on Iran". I was very 
pleased with that article, because I was able to 
pull together several threads of recent history 
in a way that was relevant to today's unfolding 
events. In preparing that article I felt I was 
'in the zone', and I expected people would 
respond to it.

I was right. Several people forwarded the article 
to other lists, and it eventually found its way 
(thanks to Butler Crittenden) to the desk of 
Bonnie Faulkner, producer of Guns & Roses, a 
well-respected KPFA show that finds wider 
distribution on the Pacifica network. She wants 
to do a series of shows, based on that article an 
on my book, and I'm very much looking forward to 
that. This could be my 'big break' as regards 
getting what I have to say 'out there'. As 
Goldilocks said, KPFA is not too big, not too 
small, but just right.  If it were any bigger (eg 
NPR) it would be too corporate to care; if it 
were any smaller, I've already done that.

There was another kind of response to the article 
as well, as the title of this posting suggests. 
There were people who didn't just consume it as 
information, but said, "Whoa, what am I supposed 
to do with this?" Stephanie expressed this 
eloquently, and so I've selected her message to 
respond to. I was so pleased to receive her 
message because it inspired me to pull some very 
positive ideas together, and again I think I'm 
'in the zone'.  Perhaps its the stars or the 
season, but I do believe there are energies that 
help us realize our potential, and that they have 
their own rhythms. In any case, I think this 
posting conveys the main points of my book in a 
more effective and accessible way.

best regards,

From: "Stephanie McDowall" <•••@••.•••>
To: recipients
Subject: Your comment if you have time pls.   * 
Why I think there WILL be an attack on Iran *
Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2006 09:16:25 -0700

Do you ever wonder what the point is in knowing 
all this when it appears we can't do a damn thing 
about what is happening? 

I found the following interesting because there 
are points here re China/Russia and the Middle 
East we never see in our mainstream media. 
Still, when I consider all this stuff, when I 
consider how Harper disregards the view of the 
majorityŠ.especially when he is dropping so 
drastically at the pollsŠand I see how firm he is 
in his positionŠ makes me wonder if it 
wouldn't be better to be blissfully unaware.  

Being informed or uninformedŠ seems the 
consequences that will result from the behaviour 
of the U.S., Britain and Israel is going to 
impact each of us in the same way no matter what 
our awareness level is.   All this info enrages 
me and I wonder why I put myself through  this 
when we are all so powerless to change matters. 
If I was young I  would be behind bars by now. 

I now have more sympathy towards those in France 
during the Revolution when they lopped off so 
many heads Šthe heads of thousands of innocents 
as well.   Is this what it is going to take? 
Is this kind of uprising anywhere in the world 
even possible when you consider the technology 
being used to watch &  listen in to people here 
and around the world.  Here in Nanaimo, as each 
of us drive through traffic lights there are the 
little cameras recording our cars.   I am 
overwhelmed.   What is worse is I am feeling 
blood thirsty and I don't like this about myself. 
I would welcome your views as simplistic as they 
areŠ..if you have time



Hi Stephanie,

Yes I do have time. Thank you for sharing your concerns.

To begin with I would say this: I think it's 
important to seek the truth, particularly about 
things important to our lives. I think seeking 
truth -- expanding awareness --  is an absolute 
good, part of our spiritual development. The 
Sufis refer metaphorically to the "Land of Truth" 
as being a higher place than the "Land of 
Happiness". The strategy of the ostrich is a 
mortal sin against our spirits. While 'failure to 
take sides' is the ultimate sin in Dante's dark 
vision, more enlightened philosophies reserve 
that place for heedlessness...not paying 

Next, I would examine this discomfort you are 
feeling, arising out of the tension between 
'knowing' and 'not being able to fix'. For many 
people, that tension drives them directly into 
the ostrich strategy: "Leave me alone, I don't 
wanna know".  But why is it that we don't usually 
feel this same discomfort when we see a disaster 
documentary about how we could be struck down at 
any time by a stray meteorite? We watch with 
fascination, albeit with a shiver of vicarious 
horror. Perhaps this difference arises from the 
fact that we believe, somewhere down deep, that 
we have a responsibility as humans for the 
welfare of humanity -- whereas we know we can't 
be responsible for nature's quirks.

If we feel responsible for something, then we 
naturally feel uncomfortable if we don't know 
what we should be doing in order to exercise that 
responsibility. So I ask this question: Do you 
accept on a conscious level that you do have a 
responsibility for humanity's well being? There's 
a big difference between accepting that 
responsibility at a conscious level, and merely 
being bothered by a vague suspicion that you 
might be responsible.

Many people leave our story here, saying "I'm 
responsible for my family, and I can't deal with 
the rest of the world." I can only respect such 
an attitude, having children of my own, but I 
must also note that it results in a variant of 
ostrich behavior.

To those who do accept responsibility for 
humanity, I suggest that the responsibility 
deserves to be taken seriously. Clearly, if you 
are responsible for a situation, the first thing 
you need to do is inform yourself fully about the 
situation. Any ostrich behavior here would be an 
obvious shirking of responsibility. If you are a 
doctor planning an operation, you must be sure 
you have a full and accurate diagnosis before 
proceeding. If your task is to defend a child 
from a monster, then you must face the monster 
with eyes wide open and mind fully engaged.

My own conclusion is that we must accept the 
reality of our human predicament: THE WHOLE 
part ostrich, or part shirking. Why?...because 
part of 'informing ourselves about the situation' 
is understanding that our political system will 
not and cannot fix things for us -- it is instead 
a major part of the problem. Once we understand 
that, we cannot avoid this question: If we aren't 
going to fix things, who is?

If the system is beyond our control, and if it is 
our job to fix things, then I accept that we find 
ourselves in a scary place. But as with the 
monster, our only responsible course is to face 
that scary place and not turn away. It is only in 
that scary place that we can find what we need to 
know, everywhere else is below the sand with the 
ostriches and shirkers.

One thing we can see clearly in this scary place 
is that the political system itself needs to be 
changed, and the way our societies operate 
generally needs to be changed. The fact that 'the 
system is beyond our control' is in fact THE VERY 
PROBLEM that we need to address. 'The system is 
beyond our control' is not a reason for despair, 
but is rather an identification of where our 
attention needs to be directed. Our despair can 
be reserved for what the system is doing to us 
while we let it, and for our tardiness in 
addressing the problem.

What we need to do is to bring the system under 
our control, or more accurately, to create a 
system that we can control and operate for the 
well being of ourselves, ie, humanity. That is to 
say: the way we can fix things is by creating a 
democratic society, a self-governing society. 
Anything less leaves us entrapped in someone 
else's Matrix, controlled by some ruling elite.

This is what we need to know, what we discover by 
facing the place of scary truths: WE NEED TO 

Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which is 
Caesar's. The political system is Caesar's thing, 
his tar baby. If we quit wasting our time, 
getting tangled up and immobilized by his tar 
baby, we free up incredible amounts of energy for 
rendering unto ourselves that which is rightfully 
ours -- our societies. Giving up false hope in 
electoral politics is an act of liberation, not a 
resignation to hopelessness. It is discarding our 
chains, our first step in learning how to govern 
ourselves. As Morpheus said to Neo, "Outside the 
Matrix there are no rules; everything is 
possible." The political system, along with the 
media, are tentacles of the imprisoning Matrix.

Before we can govern ourselves, we need to learn 
how to work together. Democracy is an inclusive 
project; if anyone's voice is left out, it isn't 

Jesus said that the meek shall inherit the Earth. 
Who are the meek? We are the meek -- all of us 
ordinary people. We are all natural allies, all 
billions of us around the world, and no monster 
can stand against us if we work together. How can 
we start working together? We can only start 
where we are, with those who are around us, in 
our communities. Not just some of us, not just 
the progressives, not just the activists, but all 
of us. We cannot work together until we realize 
we are allies, and we cannot be effective while 
we are divided. The illusion that some people in 
our communities are 'the enemy', 'the other' -- 
that too is the Matrix, part of its 
divide-and-conquer mechanism.

Jesus said to love your enemy. That sounds 
intriguing, but what does it mean? How do we go 
about it? If I may be so bold, I suggest he was 
not talking about hugging an attacker, but rather 
about turning our enemies into friends through 
love. Love begins with understanding, and 
understanding begins with dialog. To 'love our 
enemies', and turn them into allies, we need to 
begin by joining them in dialog, those whom we 
assume are 'beyond the pale', those who don't 
already agree with us.

Fortunately there are well-known processes, ways 
of helping us listen to one another, that are 
very effective in achieving the kind of dialog we 
need. These are modern versions of the same kind 
of processes that Native Americans used, and were 
most likely used by all indigenous societies, 
each of which, according to our best 
understanding, was self-governing and 
egalitarian. In such societies, when important 
decisions needed to be made, an elder of the 
tribe would play a neutral facilitating role, 
making sure that everyone's voice is heard, and 
everyone's ideas considered. Today's processes 
also employ a neutral facilitator in the same 
kind of role.

The outcomes that can be achieved by this kind of 
dialog are truly amazing. When people are able to 
hear what each other's heart-felt concerns are, 
they naturally begin to look for solutions that 
take all of those concerns into account. Ideas 
which at first seem opposed to one another are 
later seen to be synergistic parts of a creative 
new solution. Ironically, the greater the 
original disagreement in the group, the greater 
the energy (and ideas) that eventually become 
available to enable breakthrough solutions to be 

These kinds of things really happen, and the 
participants are usually surprised and delighted 
by what they are able to accomplish. Beyond that, 
they are often surprised by the feeling of 
empowerment they experience, collectively as a 
group, by working together in this way. They are 
glimpsing for a brief time what it would be like 
to participate in a democratic society, and they 
are realizing that they -- ordinary people -- 
have the ability to work harmoniously together, 
and that collectively they have the competence to 
work sensibly and productively. In two of the 
examples I cite in my book, the participants 
spontaneously used the phrase "We the people" to 
describe their sense of empowerment, and their 
sense of engagement. They could feel intuitively 
that this kind of working together represents a 
microcosm of what self-governance could be like, 
and they found this realization to be uplifting 
and energizing. .

For those of us who accept responsibility for 
humanity's well being, who have faced the scary 
truths, and who are seeking a way to help create 
democratic societies, these dialog processes seem 
to be just what we're looking for. If we take all 
that energy we've been putting into political 
campaigns, protest movements, public education 
campaigns, letters to the editor, or whatever, 
and put that energy into arranging opportunities 
for this kind of dialog in our communities, we 
would be facilitating the emergence of self 
governance in our societies.

We would be helping our community learn how to 
dialog with itself, in a way that includes the 
various concerns and viewpoints in the community, 
and that generates ideas and proposals that are 
likely to make sense to the community generally. 
At the same time, as more and more people are 
able to experience this kind of dialog 
personally, more and more people would be 
'getting it', as regards a general spirit of 
democratic empowerment, a sense of We the People, 
of community solidarity, of being 'allies', and 
of everyone's voice being heard and ideas valued. 
Over time we could expect a convergence toward 
community priorities, and agendas, that everyone 
has helped define. We would be evolving toward an 
empowered community, a community that has learned 
how to govern itself.

Notice that it is not necessary for everyone to 
follow the difficult path we have trod here -- 
taking on our shoulders responsibility for 
humanity, facing scary truths, etc. Simply by 
participating in these processes, in this kind of 
dialog, people can learn the easy way what we 
have learned the hard way. By actually 
experiencing democratic empowerment, people will 
know in their bones that the current political 
system must be superceded by self governance. 
They won't need to do the political science 
homework that we've been engaged in here. While 
we have been experiencing 'accepting 
responsibility' as a burden on our shoulders, 
they along with us will experience 
'responsibility' as being a natural part of the 
exciting and energizing business of governing our 
own affairs.

Democracy is a 'way of relating', a 'way of 
working together'. It is a way that can operate 
among the members of a family, or among the 
people of a community, and it is a way that can 
operate among communities, or among societies, on 
any scale up to the global. The communities of a 
region, for example, can dialog with one another 
via delegations, take one anothers concerns into 
account, and seek creative solutions for regional 
problems and projects. Regional delegations can 
dialog together about province-wide issues, and 
so on.

In learning how to relate in this 'way', by 
participating in this kind of dialog, we would be 
participating in the transformation of our 
cultures, expanding our cultural repertoire to 
include this new 'way' of interacting with one 
another. That is to say, the emergence of a 
democratic society happens by means of a cultural 
transformation, a cultural shift, rather than by 
means of a political movement or organized 
campaign. The new culture naturally propagates as 
more people experience the new kind of dialog. 
Wherever the new culture has taken hold, our 
'normal, natural way' of dealing with any social 
problem would be for the affected parties to 
gather themselves together, and employ our 
newfound 'way' of working together. Self 
governance becomes possible for a society only 
after such a cultural transformation has occurred 
in the society.

Above I suggested that we ' difficult path' 
people, those who feel already a responsibility 
to help create democratic societies, might devote 
our energies toward arranging 'dialog 
experiences' in our communities, and that this 
could facilitate the emergence of empowered, 
self-governing communities. That suggestion arose 
out of a focus on political transformation. I'd 
now like to reframe that suggestion, from the 
perspective of cultural transformation. From this 
broader perspective our task, as initiators, is 
to help spread a new cultural paradigm. A 
community focus may still be our best strategy, 
but from this broader perspective, we might find 
other useful strategies as well. For example, in 
the 1960s, new pop-music genres (Dylan, Beatles) 
and new kinds of gatherings (rockfests, be-ins) 
were very important in spreading certain cultural 

From a cultural-change perspective, there is good 
reason to be optimistic about the 'propagation 
power' of this new kind of dialog. Trials have 
shown, as discussed above, that these dialog 
experiences tend to generate a great deal of 
enthusiasm among the participants, along with a 
sense of empowerment and engagement. For that 
reason we could expect many 'dialog graduates' to 
be motivated and energized to 'share the 
experience', to 'spread the message' in whatever 
way makes sense to them.  THE PROCESS OF 
THE SOCIETY. Exactly what forms that propagation 
might take is an open question, to be answered by 
the diverse talents and creativity of those who 
go through the experience.

In the context of 'we are responsible for fixing 
things', I suggest that we have reached a very 
optimistic place. We need to do what we can to 
help spark a cultural transformation, a 
transformation that brings its own 
self-propagating energy to the party. It is a 
transformation that can teach us how to govern 
ourselves, and enable us to create democratic 
societies, and deal with the problems that face 
our species. In terms of activist strategy, this 
can be seen as a high leverage opportunity, with 
strong long term potential. Why would we not 
pursue this path, with both enthusiasm and hope? 
Is it really true that there is 'not a damned 
thing we can do about it'?.


Finally, I'd like to add a comment or two about 
my previous article, predicting war with Iran, 
economic collapse, fascist oppression, etc. 
Based on that article, we might think "it's too 
late" -- we have lost our window of opportunity 
for social change. In this regard, I would say 
that I have been predicting war with China for 
about ten years. I think I've got it right, in 
terms of long term power relationships, but I've 
always underestimated how long it takes for these 
kind of tectonic forces to work themselves out. 
The 'finishing end' may be at hand or it may not. 
War with Iran might be a world changing event, or 
it might be similar to the Iraq invasion, in that 
its main effect for us white folks is on the 
content of TV news, a petrol price increase that 
is annoying but not life-threatening, and 
inconveniences at the airport.

Another thing I'd like to say about that article 
is that it had a particular purpose. I was 
addressing the widespread attitude, "People will 
wake up when something terrible happens." What 
I've been trying to say for the past ten years is 
that "Things are already terrible, what are you 
waiting for?"  I wrote about the implications of 
globalization, as regards de-nationalization, 
when most people hadn't heard of globalization. I 
was anticipating the neocon movement already when 
Daddy Bush first used the phrase 'new world 
order' at the end of Gulf War I. I published a 
series of articles on the 'Police-state 
conspiracy' a decade before 911.

I wanted my recent article to be dark, because I 
continue to hope that people will wake up based 
on the direness of their predicament. But I am 
afraid that particular hope is in vain. People 
will keep their head in the sand right up until 
the point where their ass gets blown up by a 
grenade. When someone is 'waiting for people to 
wake up', they are sheep waiting for the flock to 
lead them. I persevere in that particular 
activity -- informing of the danger -- only 
because of my faith in the ultimate value of 

Our fundamental situation, as 'ordinary people', 
has not changed in 6,000 years and it will not 
change until we change it. The time for us to 
wake up has been there this whole time and it 
will be there until we do wake up. Whether we 
happen to be in a period of peace or of war is of 
little concern, in the bigger scope of things. 
Any reason not to begin our response now is 
either a rationalization or a sign of ignorance 
or heedlessness, either ostrich behavior or 



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