Dear Friends of the Metaphor Project,
My second letter to the editor included below (already sent to the New York Times) contains the urgent message I believe we need to convey at this point to everyone, members of Congress, media outlets, and opinion makers. Please use your own contact lists and forward this message as widely as possible, use the language suggested to write versions of the letter to your own newspapers and do whatever else you can do to spread it everywhere.
You will note that I am changing both the value story element language and the letter’s dominant metaphor, as the focus of the issue moves toward picking from a range of strategies for a U.S. response. Already the word ‘smart’ has been applied to choosing the right immigration strategy by the San Francisco Chronicle in their house op ed of today. Those of you who have studied The Metaphor Project’s American Story Elements (original version at www.metaphorproject.org) will recognize the value story element choices I have made now.
As for the new dominant metaphor, ‘game plan,’ it fits with the growing sense that we are dealing with very clever opponents who have us checkmated in several directions. Chess and other games of strategy are not played quickly nor won by simple displays of overwhelming force. Although the military engages in war games, and professional military people think in terms of strategic planning, the game metaphor is not usually used by the public or the media to describe actual military action. The goal of today’s sample letter is simply to push everyone, public and government, to stop, think, and reconsider the wisdom of hasty and brutal military action from a strategic point of view.
Although I have focused on full-scale war in the first line, you may certainly add the phrase ‘Bombing or ‘ to the beginning of the second sentence and be grammatical. Because of the time lag involved in this kind of work, I decided to emphasize full-scale war, thinking that bombing might already have occurred by the time any of this sees print or airing. As for including references to why militant Muslims might be angry with the U.S., I think that wide public understanding of this point can only come after people cool off and start thinking again about their choice of strategies.
For more information about how to stimulate wider public dialogue on these crucial issues, you might like to consult Tom Atlee’s web sites at www.co-intelligence.org and www.democracyinnovations.org. Local organizers in Napa, California just had a big success holding a ‘Community Conversation from the Heart’ at their community college. Everything was donated, they received good media coverage, and they helped counter the perception that those polls showing 85 percent of the American public in favor of military action have said it all.
To learn more about nonviolent strategies and tactics for fighting off aggression, dictatorship, genocide and other kinds of oppression, look at eminent scholar Gene Sharp’s list of 198 methods of nonviolent action on the Web at: www.peacemagazine.org/198.htm, and also check: www.peace.ca/genesharp.htm
Sharp’s theory and tactics were used with success in the Philippines in 1986, and Czechoslovakia in 1989, in Poland’s Solidarity movement, by the newly independent Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1991 against the Soviet Union, and most recently in Serbia to stop and apprehend their own war criminal president. Another resource is Michael Nagler’s Is There No Other Way? in which he argues that spiritual means must be added to these tactics to insure the best results.
Although the situation continues to be dire, I do not believe war or even bombing raids on Afghanistan are inevitable. There is still time to influence the course of events, if we act quickly enough.
Susan C. Strong
The Metaphor Project
America needs smart, practical game plans, to counter terrorism. Full-scale war on an already destitute, landlocked Central Asian people is not a smart game plan. Labeling this proposal ‘Infinite Justice’ won’t work. By its very nature, modern warfare, with its enormous ‘collateral damage,’ cannot be just. And unjust war just breeds more terrorists. Anger, like grief, has its stages. Let’s stop now and think twice before we set the Earth on fire. Given our history and taste for ‘shoot to solve it’ plots, it’s natural that America’s first reaction was a demand for military action.
As time goes on though, that will change. Americans are an innovative people who expect success. We have just been radically outsmarted, as well as attacked, and we know it. Repeating the Vietnam failure in Afghanistan will only play right into the terrorists’ hands. And we’ll lose all the global sympathy and goodwill we now have. As a people and a government, we must count to 10 or whatever it takes, reengage our brains, and start coming up with better ideas.