BY NOW MOST OF US are aware that our culture has a lot to answer for. From the slaughter of indigenous peoples and the theft of their land, to the false pretenses for war in at least Vietnam and Iraq, to torture and covert operations in who-knows-how-many countries today, to leading the assault on the environment under the flag of “developing” natural resources, we appear hell-bent on converting the living to the dead. Yet most of us do little, if anything, to reverse the trajectory we’re on, despite an accompanying awareness that humanity cannot live on a dead planet any more than polar bears can live without ice.
A friend suggests that the reason is “cognitive dissonance”—the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, such as the belief that we’re “the good guys” and the evidence that we are not. To avoid this discomfort, most of us will “actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.” (Festinger, 1957) But avoidance, of course, does nothing to resolve the inconsistencies. For true relief, we have to take action.
Those brave souls willing to take life-affirming action in the face of a death-dealing culture are what this issue of The MOON is about. From our lead interview with Tim DeChristopher, who went to prison for disrupting an illegal oil and gas auction of public lands, to essays by Erich Fromm, David Gross, Derrick Jensen, and Dana Visalli, we hear from individuals who have allowed their beliefs to inform their choices—whatever the consequences–thereby reducing the dissonance they experience and offering an example for those of us still struggling to do the same. We also feature poems by Quaker activist Martin Willitts, Jr., and Holly Guran, a writer intrigued by the history of “the mill girls,” a short story about two youngsters who stand up to an injustice, plus Movies You Might’ve Missed, MOON Shine, and more.
Why has The MOON chosen this “difficult” topic in December–the season of peace and brotherly love? Because Jesus, too, was willing to speak truth to power–indeed, to die for it–and because if we truly love each other, we must work for the good of each other.
This month also marks The MOON’s second anniversary. It is my pleasure to produce The MOON each month and I hope that it is your pleasure to read it. I wish all the best to The MOON’s writers and readers. May the peace and joy of this season extend to you and yours–and to all of ours–throughout the coming year.