Generosity Versus Violence


In May of 1955, I was one of thirty United States Infantrymen facing a like number of Russian Infantrymen divided only by a manhole cover, on the cobblestone plaza of Schoenbrun Palace, Vienna, Austria. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen Dulles, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sat on the sidelines. At a signal, the American and Russian Colonels saluted, that was the official end of the occupation of Austria. The withdrawal of all foreign troops would begin and Austria would start a new age away from a war economy.
There was much to do. Although the Marshall Plan, the economic assistance plan to assist European nations devastated by World War II, had obvious political and even self-serving strategies by the giver nation, the USA, it was evident that it was working. The rubble of war was being cleaned up except across the Danube where buildings remained torn and tattered from intensive bombing ten and more years before.
As young, Cold War soldiers of the 350th Combat Infantry Regiment, we were trained and ready for a possible Soviet attack. We drilled in the mountains leaving a trail of spent ammo and brass shell casings scooped up by mothers and children. Some of the children had deformed legs that we were told resulted from malnutrition. Rickets was not uncommon in places where children were deprived of essential vitamins and minerals for long periods of time.
The Declaration of Independence and a feather quill.
That changed as Austria chose not to spend future resources on weapons of destruction. They took Marshall Plan Assistance and cleaned up the mess of war; built new schools, medical clinics and hospitals, took care of children and elderly, invested in industries other than munitions, rebuilt roads and bridges and taught their young that war is not the answer.
I’ve been back to Austria several times since the end of occupation. Unlike the United States, there are no slums in Austria–no rows of cheap aluminum trailers, cities clogged with shabby, crime -ridden tenements or broken roads and rotting bridges. It took more than The Marshall Plan to bring around the Austrian success. The will and energy of the people was key to their success. Yet, the brilliance of the plan, named after United States General George Marshall, must be bestowed on the United States Government. The success of Austria and Germany in rising from the ashes to become two of the most economically sound and caring societies in the world is a remarkable achievement. It needs to be implemented in the war torn Middle East.
Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Global Marshall Plan was first heard by my wife and I at one of Lerner’s workshops in Columbus, Georgia about six years ago. Since then, we’ve witnessed the continued absurdity of our federal governments insistence that vengeance and violence works better than generosity. The United States, the worlds richest nation, ranks 20th in economic aid to poor nations, and ranks 1st as exporter of weapons of death and destruction.
I was released from Jamesville Penitentiary in upstate New York the day after last Thanksgiving. I finished my three month sentence for participating in a nonviolent ‘die-in’ outside the main gate to the killer drone base of the US Air Force 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, NY. Thirty seconds of lying on the ground outside the Hancock Drone base where assassinations take place made me a criminal. At my sentence, the Syracuse Assistant DA said: “Mr. Gilroy showed no remorse for his crime. He’s a criminal and should receive the full sentence for his crime.”
Upon my release, I learned of a Drone Conference at Princeton University. The agenda was already set but I asked to be able to speak about The Global Marshall Plan. It was an interfaith conference of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists; twenty different denominations representing twenty-two states. The Global Marshall Plan, which would offer eradication of poverty, environmental protection and sustainable development,was given to conference members and attendees who were encouraged to consider both the honest moral action needed, combined with the pragmatic logic to counteract recruitment of terrorists lured to violent payback of American missiles and other forms of death dealing foreign policy.
Congressman Keith Ellison of Minneapolis/St Paul, the only Muslim in Congress, has presented House of Representatives Resolution 1078, the Global Marshall Plan. Congressional Resolutions are a good start. Yet, just the beginning of a long process that could result in an Act of Congress–an Act called The Global Marshall Plan.
Some of us will target April 23/24 to meet with Congress members and/or staff to request they sign onto The Global Marshall Plan.
Consider being with us to walk the halls of Congress those two days individually or in small groups of two or three. One does not have to be a professional lobbyist. Simply call the Washington office of your Congressional Representative and ask for a meeting with the Congressperson or the staff person associated with foreign affairs. Have with you a print out of the Global Marshall Plan and give it to the staff person. As we wait for a new Resolution number, ask Congressional staff to read the Global Marshall Plan and encourage your Congressperson to sign onto Congressman Keith Ellison’s Global Marshall Plan.
If you can’t make the trip to Washington, then please act locally. Get a copy to your Congressional District office. Call and ask for an appointment in one of the offices in your Congressional district. Ask to speak to the Office Director about a foreign affairs issue. Be upbeat. Smile. The pamphlet will explain the resolution but a short verbal statement in support of the Global Marshall plan by each lobbyist would strengthen the case.
Some will say the Global Marshall Plan is not realistic. Some of us remember when landing a human on the moon was considered a joke. And consider the story of Americans and European activists meeting in Berlin in 1989 to discuss strategies to bring down the Berlin Wall. At a morning meeting all agreed that it would take years and work and patience had to continue.
That afternoon, the Berlin Wall began to be dismantled.
We will provide an updated follow-up post with a new House Resolution Number for the Global Marshall Plan as soon as we have it.

Jack Gilroy’s most recent project isThe Predator, a play about killer drones. Heis the author of The Wisdom Box, for which he won an OMNI Peace Hope International Writing Award, and Absolute Flanigan.

15 thoughts on “Generosity Versus Violence

  1. There’s a little something of enlighened self-interest in the Marshall plan since it kept Europe from going communist, but there’s certainly something to recommend it to the rest of the world, if only the paradigm for aid changes. The current paradigm: Let’s see how much we can get our “colonies” into debt! (See Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”)… so we can extract all economic surplus and turn them into debt peons. Oddly enough, this is a strategy that came back to our domestic economy too.
    But let’s say we can solve the problem of evil… Where would we get the money for a Global Marshall Plan?
    Simple: We’d print it. No taxes necessary.
    “B…b…but wouldn’t that cause inflation?”
    Theoretically, there’s a possibility that government, with its unlimited dollar resources could bid up the prices of goods and services, competing with the private sector–i.e. inflation. But that’s theory. Not only are CPI and money supply very weakly related, who else would be bidding for the unemployed? (Hint: by definition, no one). We could offer a job guarantee to anyone wanting to work without causing any inflation, and without raising taxes.
    Remember: governments with sovereign, fiat currencies (dollar, pound, yen, but *not* the euro) are not funded by taxes or borrowing. Where would taxpayers or lenders-to-government get the dollars to do those things if government didn’t spend the money out into the economy first?

  2. We live in the greatest country in the world. We have prevented many more international conflicts with the Peace Corps than when we have to use the 18th Airborne Corps. Jack Gilroy is a real American hero.

    • This ” Generosity vs. Violence’ article is an eye-opener to me, I don’t believe that the clear relationship between Austria’s success and the Marshall Plan is a widely known concept. Jack Gilroy’s personal experiences and observations clearly suggest to me that the Global Marshall Plan should be considered by Congress in regard to the Middle East.. Strong efforts to convince Congress to sign it are needed by everyone who values Generosity/Redevelopment over Revenge/Retaliation tactics. I’m not sure yet whether I am able to go to Washington April23/24 but I will certainly do what I can locally to foster this plan.
      I applaud Jack Gilroy’s truly generous efforts to put his energies to work on things he believes in ; His desire to reframe our national priorities to positive moral plans will, hopefully, go a long way to encouraging all his readers to lend their personal whatever way they are able ..

  3. A very well-thought out article. Too bad our own people lack the ingenuity to have a society which isn’t based on killing everyone who doesn’t agree with us.

  4. Jack Gilroy is to be commended for following through on the Global Marshall plan! Not only commended but supported.
    If each person who reads his piece visits Washington or the local office of his or her Representative that could be the ripple that could become a roar of We the People. Be that ripple!
    Surely, it is common sense to advocate for the human quality of GENEROSITY rather than continue to be passively complicit in VIOLENCE, the bedrock of US foreign policy.
    I’m convinced there are more good guys than bad guys in the world, but we permit ourselves to be distracted by non-essentials while the future of humanity and the planet are at stake. We owe a debt to admirable Americans who came before us, and we have a moral obligation to those who follow us. More of us need to be like Jack and become engaged in the almost-overwhelming crises of the times in which we live.

  5. It makes obvious sense that creating virtuous circle, both human and economic has more chance to bring peace thant keeping with same old eye for an eye.. Wish I could be with you in DC Jack!

  6. The insight provided by Jack Gilroy on the Global Marshall Plan should be commended. The federal governments insistence on violence, as well as the poverty that still exists in the United States, must come to a halt in order to make any progress. The Global Marshall plan provides a solution to promote peace and end the violence in the middle east. I support Jack Gilroy as he is an American hero inspiring real change. I hope to join him in Washington to support this cause!

  7. This just makes sense. I will be copying the plan and speaking with my representatives. I wish our politicians were more interested in creating a lasting peace than getting reelected.

  8. This is an extremely powerful article about an alternative approach to overwhelming problems with the middle east. So glad to see it. Now if only we can get people to act on it, the world might become a safer, more peaceful, more humane place.

  9. The Global Marshall Plan is a new concept for me, but it sure makes a lot of sense. I wish I could join folks in D.C. at end of April to pitch the idea to our lawmakers. Hopefully, I can do my part here in the islands to educate the four members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation. A global plan to build a better and more peaceful world may seem hopelessly idealistic. However, it’s worth a try to harness the same resources and energy that has enabled the U.S. to circle the globe with its military bases and become the world’s largest exporter of armaments … and convert this same power to the works of peace.

  10. The old adage “winning hearts and minds” goes a long way. I fully support the idea of winning the respect and gratitude of fellow humans instead of winning the battle or war. The Global Marshall Plan breathes life and hope into our struggling world. This is the way forward. My representatives will be hearing from me.

  11. Where there is a will there is a way. If we are willing to seek and try new ways to find peace and tolerance that don’t involve violence, we are bound to find a solution that is acceptable and effective. There rarely is a solution that is perfect, but that should not be deterrent to trying, especially when it’s a far better and more peaceful solution than the current one.
    Kindness is a mighty strong weapon. Let’s use more of it.

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