A Peace Front Interview with Becky Lourey, Part 1.
This is Paul Ogren, bringing you a poignant, first-hand look at the most horrific costs of war. Today, my guest interviewee is Becky Lourey, whom I got to know as our political paths crossed in the Midwest. In 1990, she was elected to serve in the Minnesota House; she later served in the state Senate for a total of 16 years. She also ran for governor in 2002 and 2006.
• In 2005, Senator Lourey received the sad distinction of being the highest ranking public official in the entire United States to lose one of her own offspring on the battlefield of Iraq. Her son Matt, Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army, was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. On May 27 of that year, his helicopter came under enemy attack and crashed at Buhriz, Iraq.
Q: Welcome to The Peace Front, Becky.
We’re told by leading political thinkers that armed conflict between tribes, religions, and nations is inevitable; that peace in our time, in our world, is at best a naïve dream. You’re the mother of twelve children. One of them, your beloved son Matt, died in combat in Iraq. Within a family it is famously hard for siblings to get along with each other, and conflict between parent and child is routine as well. You’ve been practicing conflict resolution for many decades now. What are your insights as to how people can peacefully co-exist?
A: First of all, we should strive to know and understand one another. To embrace other cultures. And to celebrate the diversity among all people and all religions, all deeply held beliefs. Just as important, we need to keep what all human beings need uppermost in our minds: health, food, and the opportunity to use one’s talents.
• To achieve this, we need non-biased news sources and educational institutions. When news organizations are funded by entities with a specific agenda in mind, citizens lack the tools to comprehend what’s really happening.
Q: What are your additional thoughts about conflict?
A: I’ve been reading Andrew J. Bacevich’s book, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. I recommend it to anyone who’s trying to understand why we keep going to war. He quotes Henry Adams, who said, “… men invariably follow interests in deciding morals.” This is true. It is a huge barrier not only to peaceful relations, but to protecting the earth, the air, the waters necessary to sustain life.
• What happens when a society allows its leaders to manipulate the populace? These leaders create fear, thus allowing them to follow their own path to riches derived from claiming the resources of nations they “invade.” The end result? We as a people relinquish control of our humanitarian impulses.
Q: Becky, tell us more about the behind-the-scenes workings of Washington D.C. from your perspective.
A: First of all, the lack of honest and probing news sources tends to bend the will of elected representatives. They really want to be re-elected but some are afraid to voice their opposition to war. Why? Because they do not want to look unpatriotic as portrayed in some news sources. Neither do they want to appear unable to “protect” the people they represent. What is so very sad about this stance is that often our actions actually make us less safe.
Q: Please give us your take on the U.S. reaction to Al-Qaeda and 9/11.
A: Ever since that terrible time, I’ve been concerned that we have given Al Qaeda the status of a nation by “declaring war” on them. Terrorism is a crime and should be thought of as a crime. Our response to Al-Qaeda, however, has helped radicalize anti-American groups. Our response has even become a recruiting tool for them.
Q: You were telling me about an ancient female wisdom group that offers some solutions for today’s world. Who are they?
A: They call themselves the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. They believe that their ancestral ways of peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. You can read about the work of these living legends from five continents online at www.grandmotherscouncil.org. Their teachings about confronting violence, war, and poverty could move us closer toward getting along with each other.
Q: Any more thoughts along those lines?
A: Speaking of powerful women: I’m reminded how wonderful it would be to reclaim Mother’s Day for the purpose for which it was created. When Julia Ward Howe wrote her proclamation in 1870 it was written with the same intent that the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers embrace – gathering women from all over the world to work for peace.
• I believe that we can and must make peace more than a hope—it must become our first priority. To reach it, we’ve got to work toward a critical mass of people all over the world who embrace peace as an everyday goal.
Thank you, Becky—and please join us on my next blogpost for Part 2 of our in-depth dialogue about the nature of war with Becky Lourey, a fearless advocate for peace and a consummate political insider.
Founder of www.FromWarToPeace.com