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Is This The ‘New Normal’ We Want?

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Is This The ‘New Normal’ We Want?


Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

I lived with a military version of the “new normal” when my husband came back from Iraq with severe combat trauma, and there was nothing normal about it. Those years were defined by fear, insecurity, lies, violence, and crystal meth. I shudder at the fact that much of this country has tacitly accepted the Trump era as the new normal. When I hear climate scientists say the heat records of recent years will become the new normal within a decade or so,  I realize just how bad it will be. Anyone who’s been told to normalize highly abnormal and potentially lethal conditions has a gut-level understanding that new normal is a dog whistle for hell.

“New normal” is the phrase society slaps on the horrific conditions we have created and now lack the courage and love to change. So we get used to things that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and most of us are okay with it, as long as it doesn’t happen to us. But eventually, it will. Truthfully, it’s happening to all of us right now, even if we’re too distracted by a shiny new news story to see it. A Google search of how miserable poor Don Jr. is with dad in the White House generated nearly seven million results. By comparison, a search for articles about how GOP leaders stripped Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the FY 2018 Appropriations Act at zero dark hundred produced 70,000 hits.

Since Congress refuses to raise war taxes or reinstate the draft, you probably believe you’ll never have to pay for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere that you don’t fight, don’t notice and may not even support. I’ve got bad news: you’re already paying for them. Those of you with children and grandchildren, or the dream that one day you’ll be parents? Be warned: the little ones will pay a whole lot more than you. They might just pay with their lives, even if they never wear the uniform.

The carbon footprint of military operations is massive, and in the war between combat and climate, combat is clearly winning. The Iraq War alone released at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), according to figures from Oil Change International, a think tank on the cost of fossil fuels.

“That’s about the equivalent of adding 25 million cars to the road in the US in one year,” said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, in his testimony at the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War in Washington, D.C. last December.

McKibben is the founder of 350.org, and I invited him to speak at the Tribunal, where I also testified. I knew what the war had cost me: my husband, my home and land, my job, my healthcare, and my security and identity (literally). I wanted to know what it was costing everyone, and the price that might be paid by the future. In his testimony, McKibben remarked, “This one war produce[d] more carbon each year than 60 percent of the world’s countries.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main drivers of climate change, and in case you missed it, a recent report revealed that one of the consequences of that is an incipient “biological annihilation.” It is almost as if we’re waging war on ourselves. Professor Gerardo Ceballas, one of the report’s co-authors, said to CNN’s John Sutter, “What is at stake is really the state of humanity.”

Also at stake is the humanity of a nation that signs a blank check for endless war.  Trump has proposed a $54 billion increase in Department of Defense spending; he plans to siphon some of the funds via brutal cuts to the EPA budget. Nearly 40 percent of Americans live in areas with frequently unhealthy levels of air pollution, and more than 600,000 children worldwide die every year because of it.

The recent calving of the so-called Exxon Knew iceberg from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is going to accelerate rising sea levels, which will have a catastrophic casualty count. Cutting funds to agencies that support life in order to finance activities that do not is morally indefensible.

A Congress that would even contemplate spending $406.5 billion on a few F-35s for warfare while attempting to slash $800 billion from senior healthcare and revoke health insurance from 22 million poor and disabled Americans is actively redefining what it means to be morally bankrupt. Should the Affordable Care Act be repealed, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year. That’s triple the total number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

We simply cannot afford any more unlimited funding of unlimited war. We’ve already paid far too much.

“The total U.S. spending on the Iraq war could have covered all the global investment in renewable power generation needed between now and 2030 in order to halt the rise in the planet’s temperature,” McKibben said.

With the $600 billion Congress put into military operations in Iraq, America could have helped protect the planet. We helped destroy it instead. Congress is poised to once again pledge allegiance to endless war and all the collateral damage it creates. Is this the “new normal” we want?

Stacy Bannerman is the author of Homefront 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars (2015) and When the War Came Home (2006). She was a charter board member of Military Families Speak Out, and is the author of the play, Homefront 911: Military Family Monologues. Her website is www.stacybannerman.com.



  1. dbtheonly July 31, 2017

    BBC says Mooch out after 10 days.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 31, 2017

      You and the rest of us blinked(Smile). Kelly canned him. Scaramucci is history, “looking to pursue other opportunities”, as the quaint euphemism goes when someone is canned for failure to do the job.

      1. dbtheonly August 1, 2017

        But Aaron, he wasn’t even to s

  2. Dominick Vila July 31, 2017

    This is a must read article. Excellent!

  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 31, 2017

    Yes, so many Americans have been conditioned to think only of themselves, and too bad that others are inconvenienced. This is an abnormal attitude, and Congress, Trump, the Koch’s, and Big Business acceptance of the current destruction of the planet should be seen as a gross distortion of human nature. But the distortion of human nature is taken lightly, and tossed aside as inconsequential, regardless of whether the children of abusers of the planet are impacted or not.

    It’s incredible that those responsible for this inexorable and slow destruction of the planet can’t begin to make a connection with the lives of others. One way to think about the condition of such is that they are Lazarus-like in that they walk and interact, but spiritually they are dead. In the New Testament, where Jesus is described as reviving a dead Lazarus, this did not mean that Jesus revived an actual corpse, but that He revived a spiritually dead individual, thus enabling Lazarus(and others) to realize that that half of this dual nature we have needed reviving. Trump, the Koch’s, many CEO’s, Putin, a majority of Congress, and so many Americans, are the new “Lazaruses” of today. But instead of responding to the Message of Christianity, and lacking interest thus far by so many in what Baha’u’llah has to offer as the “Physician” for this Day and Age, the majority of Americans ignore the maintenance of the spiritual component, allowing the soul to be neglected, resulting in a withered and enervated spirit, while concentrating on gratifying the physical senses in the interim. This atrophy is manifested in ways described in the article, and in many other ways.

    This is the sort of death which no legislation, executive decision, or judicial decision can help revive the dying patient called the America. Those Physicians who have appeared in the past from Abraham, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, up to Baha’u’llah, were sent to revive humanity in each era when we lapsed into a sort of coma from irreligion and solely focusing on our material gratification, only to revived by the next Messenger. In real life, when a patient’s illness goes into a different phase, another specialists has to be called in to treat the new form of sickness, and the previous doctor is wise enough to step aside, and she calls in another doctor who knows how to address the new stage of illness. The same principle applies in the affairs of humans on the planet and with our societies. A previous social illness is tended to, but new illnesses arise which society in another epoch is unprepared to deal with. Thus, a new Physician arrives to tend to the new illnesses that are unique to the patient’s evolving social/spiritual condition. If we look at the pattern, the interval of appearance of these Divine Physicians is approximately a thousand years, give or take a few hundred years.

    And by no means should we deceive ourselves into thinking that Trump and Congress have a clue as to what is happening and can save the day—that is a futile and foolish expectation. Trump and Congress are quacks, utter unqualified to deal with spiritual illnesses, and inadequate in dealing with the unique social illnesses that are not the same as during the times of Muhammad, Jesus, and all the previous Messengers. Even Their specific social Teachings weren’t intended to be applied in the future of an evolving human society. And given that the patient—us—have evolved and become inattentive to the spiritual needs of the person’s soul, Their specific Spiritual pronouncements no longer have an impact on a callous society that has grown indifferent to Their Counsels. Which is why a new Messenger is always sent to awaken us from time to time from our Lazarus condition.

    We’re at the point that continuing to ignore this Pattern for humanity, and neglecting to put into practice and informing our consciousness of the principles designed to revive humanity, will lead to an extinction not unlike what led to the removal of entire species in the past.


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