Environmental and Economic Impacts of Militarization in Hawaii, a Panel Discussion (pre-event for the Watada Lecture Series) was held September 7, 2012 at the Church of the Crossroads, with Jim Albertini of Malu Aina, Sparky Rodrigues of Malama Makua and Olelo, Steve Dinion of Pride At Work and Hawaii Labor for Peace, and Henry Curtis of Life of the Land.
Sometime during our discussions on how we should name this topic, the question arose, should it be called the Impacts of Militarism, or the Impacts of Militarization? We have a military here. Is Hawaii militarized?
Militarism is defined as a policy or ideology if you will, of a government which relies heavily on the military to pursue its national interests. Militarization, like the word “victimization” is an active word, meaning to convert something such as land or structures to military purposes. But, more importantly, it also means to convert a societal structure organized around the military, including recruitment, politics, economics, even education, and in the end, the whole moral structure. Military institutions have contradictory principles to the values of a democratic society; equality, justice, freedom of speech, civil rights. The militarization of society shifts the beliefs and values in a way so as to glorify a “warrior culture.” Highly hierarchical, militarism values a top down power structure. The United States has become deeply shaped by militarism, and by the continuing militarization of our lands, our culture, and our society.
The huge power of the National Rifle Assoc. reflects the common belief that the way to protect yourself from violence is to have a gun (or 2, or 10). That there is only one answer to conflict; a violent, military one. Not only that, but that the inflexible structure built into militarism means we have locked ourselves into a cycle of eternal hostility, a death trap of hatred. This is scary stuff.
“Demilitarization”, its opposite, comes down to working to restructure our society. To find ways to break that cycle. To reconnect with values of wholeness, healing, values that truly make a society strong. The people who share their stories here are fighting for this different future.
HPJ (formerly AFSC) has been known as a kind of watchdog, a gad-fly to the military establishment here, but our real purpose is to undo the layers of society that are built on the Military Industrial Complex. Hence the words tonight of “militarization” and demilitarization”. Think deeply on this. These folks on the panel work in Hawaii against the invasion of the military into lands and culture, past and present. And share their ideas for a sustainable future for Hawaii that need not rely on the economics of war.