Some ten years ago I started No More Victims with Alan Pogue, a Vietnam combat medic and documentary photographer. NMV’s two core objectives are to secure medical sponsorships for children hurt by US forces and to advocate and educate for peace. The endeavor is based on a simple working premise: If you object, help the victims and tell the story. This direct approach can open an uncluttered path toward solving problems of vexing complexity.
The work has been arduous and rewarding. Children in desperate need of help received treatment in the US under our auspices. A little girl who would have been blind forever is now learning how to read. A boy who refused to go to school after an American bomb wrecked his face is the top student in his class at a school in Fallujah. The brain of a little girl shot in the head by an American sniper is now protected by a plate surgically implanted to replace shattered skull bone (she was four when our sniper shot her). A boy whose body was torn to pieces by an American missile is finally pain free after enduring four years of wrenching misery. By the time he arrived in the United States, he was carrying around a bladder stone the size of a large egg. Had he not received treatment, doctors said, he would have died an agonizing death.
The wounds our weapons inflict — severed limbs, shredded flesh, blindness, paralysis; neurological damage affecting the urinary tract, bowel, reproductive organs — are intimate. Our approach brings the suffering war inflicts on millions of people down to a human scale where it can be perceived in intimate human terms. The children are like our own. The parents feel the same agonized shock that we would feel if people from thousands of miles away came to liberate us from our rotten government by shattering the perfect limbs of our own children. Our vulnerability is shared, and the natural proclivities of human beings (including most Americans), fully informed about American motives and actions, would be to side with the vulnerable people we are attacking. Opposition to war finds expression through the act of healing a child. It is a short and long term strategy, with landmarks for assessing progress and identifying new possibilities. There’s nothing more encouraging than to see a crippled child walk again.
This way of working can be applied in myriad ways. The American people should know by now that they are also threatened by the same interests that inflict so much damage abroad. How many veterans are returning the joblessness, homelessness, foreclosed homes? More than forty thousand Americans die every year because they lack access to basic health care, and that number is growing.
The US government has been captured by corporations that are quite blissfully using the US Treasury as a slush fund. They’re after Social Security and Medicare. They want it all. And they are perfectly willing to partner with corrupt politicians to create a police state in America. The crushing of American democracy and our constitutional liberties is becoming a profitable chore. Torture, imprisonment without due process, surveillance without a warrant: these crimes are now line items on corporate profit sheets.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the survival of the human species is at risk. If present trends continue, the experiment in so-called higher intelligence may well come to an abrupt and ignominious end. Human beings will have proven themselves incapable creating institutional frameworks that diffuse power and protect basic human rights and liberties. Our species will have proven to be an evolutionary dead-end. We hope you will join us in these efforts to avert such an outcome and the unimaginable human suffering it will entail.