Make culture, not war

Posted by CODEPINK Staff


post by Sharon Miller, San Francisco intern for CODEPINK

Most of us have heard that the personal is political and the political is personal, but what about culture? If the past decade has been any indication, I'd say that culture is how the political becomes personal.

We are well aware of the ways in which the mainstream corporate US news media continues to produce a culture of fear and conformity, especially after September 11, 2001.  We've noticed the same tiresome patterns ever since: the repeated marginalization of anti-war dissent as unpatriotic at best and treasonous at worst; the co-optation of feminist and human rights rhetoric to justify the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere; the endless speculation on the countless ways that terrorists might be planning to kill us; the list goes on and on.

However, we can counteract this toxic cultural climate not only by pointing out the ridiculousness of many aspects of post-9/11 American mass culture, but also by creating new culture ourselves. After all, many of us are aware on some level that a successful movement is not only about being against something, but also for something. We say "no" to war, occupation, and violence; what is our "yes"? If the CODEPINK Flickr stream of Create, Not Hate photos is any indication, we have a lot of yesses: art, music, laughter, jokes, education, jobs, and many, many more, in addition to our noes.

This is how culture is what makes the political personal. Culture is not just about everybody passively absorbing what the media tells us to believe; culture is produced by the people themselves. When we react to current events and mass media output with fear, that produces a war culture. When we say no to war and yes to health care, education, art, music, and laughter, we produce a culture of possibility, in which we are not only participants in this culture, but actively create it ourselves.

What culture will you create today? What is your "yes"?

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