Militarism isn’t as prevalent on this campus as it is in Colombia. Despite this complacent ignorance, the idea of militarism dictated the course of the lecture in the Old Chemistry Building on November 18. This past Tuesday evening, the Social Justice Alliance, along with co-sponsors Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) and LASSO, hosted Drop Beats Not Bombs—a lecture followed by a live HipHop show that strove to encourage resistance to militarism through creative action.
Although initially thought to be otherwise, militarism in Colombia carries some relevance to the student body of Stony Brook University. In June of 2008, the school was successful in banning Coca-Cola from its campus due to the company’s indifference to inhumane treatment of union workers in bottling facilities. This ban was made possible through the Killer Coke campaign organized by the Social Justice Alliance.
The lecture took place in room 118 of Old Chemistry at 7 p.m. It was hosted by Paula Galeano, a Colombian conscientious objector to militarism from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The first question Galeano asked her listeners was, “What is militarism?” Several students gave partial answers. Others shared their first-hand experiences with militarism. Key words like “tension” and “protests” and “tear gas” were mentioned.
“What are some actions against it?” Galeano asked. After one suggestion to hand out flyers and pamphlets to encourage reform, the room lulled into silence.
She went on to say that both fear and terror are characteristic of militarism. According to Galeano, the tension among the state forces, the guerilla, and the right-wing paramilitary have caused four million people to be forcibly displaced from their homes.
Militarism controls people by giving money to those who will rat others out, Galeano said. In other words, financial incentives are awarded to those who will give the names of suspected guerillas. This method is used to create a network of informants. According to Galeano, all men 18 and over in Colombia are obligated to the army if his family is not financially dependent on them. People join the armed forces not because of their political convictions, but because of economic options.
At the end of the lecture, Galeano was asked, “How does militarism affect us as college students today?”
“That’s for you to answer,” Galeano replied. This response opened up the floor to listener comments on the topic of militarism. The question arose as to whether or not militarism is just as prevalent in the United States as it is in Colombia. One student pointed out that militarism is perhaps more of a “state of mind” in the United States rather than its physical manifestation found in Colombia.
“People think about militarism being a problem in other countries that we never have to encounter, but it really is all around us. We have to take responsibility for the problems in our community and work hard to change them. Just like Invincible’s motto for the night: If you want to see the change, you’ve got to be the change,” said Janice Lorenzana of the FMLA.
The following live HipHop show hosted Ilana Weaver, also known as DJ Invincible. Born in Israel, Weaver grew up in Detroit, Michigan, learning English by listening to HipHop and writing down her favorite lyrics. Already a community activist striving for social change, Weaver went on the six-state tour sponsored by the Fellowship for Reconciliation. The tour ended November 25, but Invincible still plans to perform next on December 4 in Philadelphia.