Can we be at all optimistic?


Jan Slakov

Dear Renaissance Network,                Sept. 16

I suspect that anyone who reads the stuff Richard and I send you on this
list and the cj list must end up, like me, feeling at times really
despairing of ever being able to make a difference. I have struggled with
despair for many years, and come to the conclusion that it is not for me to
decide whether or not my efforts will make a difference. Also, I simply do
not want to leave other people who are working to build a better world in
the lurch. I will try to be there for them, and by extension, for all the
beings who suffer from militarism, consumption, globalization and all the rest.

Of course, the accounts of the massacre in East Timor are particularly
discouraging. My dear friend (now international president of WILPF, Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom) wrote to encourage us not to
give up hope:

"While we are all working hard to redress some of the wrongs in the world,
we run the risk to be discouraged because we see that so much needs doing,
that we have so little resources, and that we never see results.

In the last few days I perceived a few very faint, but real signs of hope
and I want to share them with you.  I know that they are too faint, too
late, too little! I know that they do not compensate for the people who are
dying or whose life is miserable. I know all of it, but I need, and I
suppose we all need, to hope and to believe so that we are able to go on
working for peace and justice.

Last week-end, the "Le Congres de la Francophonie" (group of some 4 dozen
leaders of French-culture/language countries around the world) met in
Moncton (Canada).  For the first time they could not carry on their meeting
ignoring completely the severe violation of human rights on the part of so
many of their members. They have not yet done anything about it, but it was
THE issue that colored the meeting. This is a little progress, as awareness
precedes action.

This week in Auckland, again for the first time, the APEC leaders are faced
with an agenda item not of their choosing and not of their taste: the
Indonesian massacre in East Timor.  Whatever they will do with it, and
perhaps very little, I take hope from the fact that at least the issue is
not only on the lips of the protesters outside, but it is right in the
meeting room. 

This morning in the paper I read these lines from a speech the U.S. Trade
Representative, Charlene Barshefsky, made yesterday at APEC in Auckland:
"The single greatest threat to the multinational trading system is the
absence of public support for that system and for the policies which have
created that system... And unless public support is generated, I think that
WTO is going to face tough sledding in the years ahead."

Well said, Charlene; if you are worried, it means that we have made some

And we, the people, will continue to work with all the strength and passion
we have to ensure that the WTO (World Trade Organization) will have a
"tough sledding in the years ahead". We will continue to make clear the
linkages between the multinational trading system, the policies which have
created it, and 
- the violation of human rights, 
- the increased militarization of every aspects of our society, 
- the depredation of the earth and all of its inhabitants,
- the obscene enrichment of the few on the back of the many,
- the weakening of the UN system .

In unflagging hope for peace and justice,

Well, recently another activist friend, Daniel Haran, wrote to Janet Eaton
(who you have surely "met" via her prolific postings, especially the
monumental job she did documenting the environmental consequences of the
Kosovo bombing) and me to discuss the question of optimism:

I read with interest Bruna's post about reasons for hope, but I think she
was not optimistic enough.

What gives me hope is not that we've finally made it on APEC's agenda-
it's seeing how quickly "world leaders" have changed their tune on East

It's as though we were seeing the same kind of internet-mediated
unleashing of power that happened with the MAI- only in a shorter

What do you think?

Peace- d.

Janet's reply ought to give all of us a shot of adrenaline. The exclamation
marks alone are worth it :-)!! Here: 

I share your thoughts on this completely !
I am following the many atrocites, misogynies, violations of 
humanity and international law, of the environment, of ecological 
integrity, of the socioeconomic rights and survival of indigenous 
peoples etc etc and I do belive that the Internet has allowed for not 
only immediate receipt of alternate news around the world in ever 
increasing speed but also I have noticed particualry in my own 
case I have grown from working with one or two issues to many and 
as a member of many list servs am in a position to influence the 
integration of broader awareness - So with cross posting and greater 
access to the big picture and with the help of thinking in whole 
sytsems or from a systemic perspective one begins to see the common 
elements emerge- and the egregious and fascist nature of the New 
World Order comes into full view !! 

I think as you say it all began happening with the MAI- which 
threatened all citziens, their nations , their right to work , their  
environment etc etc [for me it was  giant wakeup call which I 
categorized in an interview with the local press as 'the ultimate 
betrayal of democracy" ]  and then along came Genetical Engineered 
food into awarenss and look where that has gone- and then the NATO 
campaign which became much better understood towards the end of the 
war when even old die hards Conservatives like Barbara Amiel and Sync 
Sinclair were adding their voices of condmenation - and now East 
Timor spread out for all and sundry to see- Bruce Mackinnons cartoon 
the other day said it al with Chretien skulking off with his box of 
trade [probaly arms I forget] to indonesia whilst the grim reaper or 
some syumbol of death meted out its terrible terror l on the East 

so yes people would have to be numbed into a near Alzheimers state 
not to get it nd not to feel it in their gut at least if not their 

I just was responding to Paul Swann and here's something I wrote to 
him on the same subject!! 

"With the real analysis and reasons behind the NATO bombings in the
Balkans coming into clear view since the war and now with East Timor
illuminating even more so the ultimate reasons of arms and economics
behind all foreign policy and the egregious violations of human rights
within such a callous framework we must continue to put our hearts and
minds into this turning point in history !!! 

There are now a few cracks in the hitherto considered inpenetrable and
unstoppable juggernaut of economic globalization built on the three
pillars of trade, finance and investment !!! 

Public awarenss of the unethcial and outrageous nature of some 
of the most egregious violations is amassing and could make a 
difference I feel    !!!!!!!

Also Daniel a while back I wrote something up on the ukantiwar list 
serv on optimism when someone wrote about his growing pessimism - 

I will forward that in a separate e-mail - Maybe we can put the 
dialogue out to a broader group if you feel it worthwhile !! 

Actually the following was pickedup by the editor of a progessive on 
line newsletter inthe US - - and he wrote to ask if he could edit it 
and publish it so rare said he was it to find anything optimistic 
about the global situation we live in !! [Toward Freedom - a progressive online 
magazine - where i guess an edited version will someday appear-]

all the best Daniel
keep up the great work!! 

janet !! 

So, dear Renaissance Network, in the next message you will find Janet's

Lest we spend too much time patting ourselves on the back, have no fear, I
will send some more out as soon as I get the time on disturbing news and how
we can keep plugging away to get things right.

all the best, Jan