Readers' Forum

Tell us what you think of the ideas you find in YES! Magazine
Green Corps for Democracy
YES! is consistently the most constructive magazine that I read, and “What Would Democracy Look Like” was no exception.
The “Resources for Democracy” are quite helpful, but there was a major omission: young people and those looking to make a career in the venerable field of organizing were largely left without a direction to turn. I would like to suggest that people fitting that profile look up Green Corps, the Field School for Environmental Organizing ( Green Corps organizers spend a year alternating between trainings and leading critical campaigns in the field.

 Founded 10 years ago, Green Corps has trained nearly 200 young people to lead the world toward a positive, democratic environmentally sound future. Over 85 percent of Green Corps' graduates are still doing organizing work. It is this type of long-term commitment that builds the infrastructure of our democracy.

Thank you again for focusing on solutions to the important issues facing the world's people.

Justin Dawe
Portland, Maine

A Third Party Is the Way
Regarding Sarah van Gelder's editorial: I believe that the American people are not served by Scott Ritter's fantasy that there is no difference between the American people and their government. His claim is true only in theory, which is a very long way from the reality that less than 50 percent of the electorate exercises its right to vote and 95 percent of incumbents are returned to office, largely because of this dysfunctional system. The distinction between the American people and their government remains.

I understand your point: this democracy is clearly an unfinished process. But in the developed democracies of the world they “do” democracy better than Americans. They certainly vote in greater numbers—why do you think they've had universal health care
for so many decades?

The Democratic Party will not significantly reform the system any more than the Republicans will because they benefit from the status quo, they owe their existence to it.
The only way to change anything that makes sense to me is by applying pressure from the outside, that is, from a third party—as difficult as that may seem.

Which third party? The Green Party, the fastest growing party in the country, the largest grassroots movement. It is active in at least 80 countries and in the governments of about 24. In November, the Greens elected their second member to a state legislature, John Eder of Maine.

Ivana Edwards
via e-mail

Children Are Miner's Canaries
I was surprised to read in Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres' article “The Miner's Canary” that “the hierarchy of power that is most effective in separating potential allies in the United States is race.” I would have included gender.

Our children are the canaries that are dying in this culture that leaves no time for parenting, allows schools and the environment to deteriorate, abandons homeless or struggling families... Democracy has yet to acknowledge the undervalued and unpaid work women have traditionally done and still do raising children. I believe we need to move away from a money economy and build one based on caring.

Louise Lynch
via e-mail

Move On from 9/11
Four members of my family—three cousins and a brother—were directly affected by 9/11. My cousin's office was even on the 25th floor of Tower #1. In my humble opinion, YES! has dwelled too much on this subject. You're not Time or Newsweek, but an alternative publication. Can we move on? Thousands die every day from hunger.

Dan Greif
Baltimore, Maryland

Points of Convergence
After reading your Winter 2002 issue, “Can Love Save the World,” I was left with mixed emotions. It was a big stretch for me to take an active interest in what “activists” have to say. My experience with activists is limited to when SOA (School of Americas) Watch come to Fort Benning to protest the former School of Americas in particular and the rest of the US military in general. My experience with these activists leads me to believe that most peace activists are ill-informed or misguided.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are many peace activists who are informed and educated about their cause. The articles by Walter Wink and Troy Chapman were especially inspiring in these uncertain times.

But a common theme was that US policies were the reasons that we faced the terrorist threats that we now face. I believe the reason that we face terrorist threats is that some people are just evil and revel in the death of innocents just for the sake of imposing their will upon others. Because of poverty and oppression it is easy to galvanize the disenfranchised into catastrophic acts of hate.

But thank you for showing me a point of view I had not been privy to. Keep an eye on the erosion of our constitutional liberties. I agree with your contributors on that issue wholeheartedly. I am sworn to defend the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, after all.

Martin Wakefield, US Army
via e-mail

Overcoming National Ignorance
 Following the September 11 disaster, as I listened to an NPR newscast involving interviews aimed at getting an idea of the general populace reaction, one comment by a female student on a London college campus provoked considerable thought for me: “I feel that most Americans are insular, ignorant, and arrogant.” My initial reaction was defensive, but as I mulled it over, her description made sense.

How do we help each other to overcome these characteristics that hinder a broader, holistic view of this Global Age world in which we live as a cultural minority? YES! is an effective factor that perks the pot, lifting us out of the doldrums of ignorance.

Joan K. Reynolds
Livingston, Kentucky

An Open Letter to a Neighbor
Brian, while you were tanking up your dad's pickup across the pump from me Sunday evening, you asked me why I and the other gray hairs had stood on the bridge, holding signs and candles for peace. I told you my reasons were personal and that I would send you an e-mail. So here it goes:

I was eight years old when the Germans came in. I remember their red flags with the black swastika in the middle. They sang something about “der Heimat”—their homeland, as they occupied mine. In the months that followed they took away neighbors, classmates, and friends because they were Jews or Gypsies. I remember my father handing out false identity papers, trying to save some of them. I remember him counseling farmers in our village to sabotage the war effort. I remember being hungry and cold. I remember classmates wearing black arm-bands and learning what a war orphan was. I remember chipping mortar off old bricks, amid huge piles of rubble where houses once stood, as we rebuilt after the war was finally over.

Then another army occupied us. Their red flag had a hammer and sickle on it. They made us change our constitution and our flag. They, too, took away friends and neighbors, some never to return. I remember being taught in school how theirs was the greatest country on earth and how Comrade Stalin was the greatest leader—confusing for a child, for just a couple of years earlier Germany and the Führer had that distinction. I remember everyone being scared of the secret police, people speaking in whispers. I remember being called a class-alien.

When I was 20, I took part in a huge peaceful demonstration. It seemed the whole city was marching. We wanted free, multi-party elections and did not wish to be occupied any more. They opened fire on us. I remember lying on the pavement, playing dead until the firing abated. Many weren't so lucky.

Our peaceful demonstration turned into open revolt. The Soviet army crushed it with overwhelming force. I was not there to rebuild again. I managed to escape with nothing but the clothes on my back, finding a welcoming refuge in the United States. I became a citizen.

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