Wednesday, August 22, 2012

War Doesn't Make Friends

On August 21 I received a copy of a letter by my friend Brad Lyttle to NBC protesting the television show, “Stars Earn Stripes”. I was so impressed with Brad's writing and reasoning, that I am copying the entire letter here.

Bradford Lyttle
(address held)

August 21, 2012

Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer
30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New York City, NY

Dear Mr. Burke,

In regard to your television show, “Stars Earn Stripes,” I hope that you will cancel it. The show expresses a complete faith in military force as the way to obtain security for the United States, and avoid catastrophes like nuclear war, or a repeat of 9/11. In doing so, it it does a disservice to the American people. No matter how well military force seems to have served us in the past, the scientific fact is that it cannot prevent nuclear war, and it cannot keep this country from being attacked by determined people who wish to harm us.

The government tries to create the impression that nuclear deterrence will prevent nuclear war forever. The scientific fact is that it insures that nuclear war will come, and can come at any time. This is because the huge arsenals of nuclear missiles that have been created always generate the possibility of war, and mathematical probability theory then tells us that this situation makes the probability of nuclear war approach certainty. If the present situation with nuclear weapons continues, the United States is doomed. Nuclear war can only be prevented by the abolition of nuclear weapons.

But the government has our nuclear arsenal under control, you might say.

Does it? A few days ago, an 82-year-old nun, and two middle-aged Catholic friends, passed through three security fences at Y-12, the place in Tennessee where enriched uranium for bombs and power plants is stored, and reached the walls of the storage building, where they prayed for peace. Are the contents of Y-12 secure? The Catholic protestors posed no physical threat. What about people who want to hurt us?

 Nor can peace and security be created by the type of war now being waged in Afghanistan. Drone attacks and night raids cannot end the risk of attacks against us. They only make those who hate us hate us more, and become more determined to revenge themselves against us. These people constantly devise new ways to hurt us, as they are doing now by implanting suicide fighters in the Afghan army who conduct surprise attacks against our forces. We bomb targets in Pakistan with drones.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons. It is just a matter of time until some Pakistani who hates us gains control of a nuclear weapon and attacks one of our cities.

Peace is created by policies that help people, not hurt them, by policies that diminish hatred, not increase it. We should be working to bring all international disputes before world courts, where those accused can have “their day in court,” with competent legal representation. Such an approach is recognized as fair and just by people throughout the world, and does not generate intense hatreds.

Stars Earn Stripes glorifies warriors such as Navy Seals and snipers.

These warriors may be extremely competent in their destructive skills, and brave in their willingness to use them in the belief that they are serving this country, but the fact is that the killing that they do so well is in direct conflict with the moral principles of Christianity, and cannot help but generate emotional conflicts in the warriors that will scar them for life. Even if you believe that it may be necessary to train some young people to efficiently kill, you certainly must realize that this is not the best way to try to resolve conflicts, and, in reality, no one should be asked to do such terrible things to other people.

You have just done a fine job in reporting the Olympics. In the Olympics, young men and women compete fiercely for honors and trophies.

But they don’t try to kill each other. They compete within a set of rules, and certain tactics are forbidden. If, in just one sport, a competitor tried to win by killing his opponent, the Olympics would be severely marred. If even a small number tried to kill their opponents, the Olympics would end immediately. Since the games are conducted within rules that rule out killing, they generate mutual respect and friendships, rather than hatreds. It is inspiring to see young people enter the stadium in contingents carrying the flags of their respective nations, and, after two weeks of intense competition, leave mingled together, in obvious mutual respect, and sometimes much deeper friendship. That is the kind of conflict management that NBC should be encouraging, not the competition of war, which does not generate mutual respect and friendship. Did we respect the Nazis after World War II?

Were we friends with the generals of the imperial Japanese army?

I would like to see NBC promoting entertainment that suggests that people can resolve their conflicts without violence. Such a policy would be a solid contribution to the security, integrity, and cohesiveness of our society. Television shows that imply the permanence and inevitability of war are not what we need.



Bradford Lyttle

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My video is now online

You may now see me giving my speech, outside as we didn't have good artificial lighting, at

That will get you to part 1. Then click the video icon and click on part 2.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Telling it Like it Is

Hello. I am Roberta Carichner, citizen of the United States, 66 years old.

I’ve been harboring a fantasy that I would accomplish some dramatic and heroic feat, and be awarded with an opportunity to speak to a joint session of Congress. There I would stand, impeccably dressed, in low heels because I refuse to subject my spine to high heels, but otherwise looking truly professional, and begin my address with appropriate humility and gratitude. Then I would tell them what I really think.

Well, it’s not going to happen, no way, no how, so what was I to do?

An idea! I could give my speech, as if I were addressing Congress, and let anyone see it, hear it, and read it. So, pretend that you are watching a joint session of Congress. It is September, 2010 and there I am, having been introduced, and allowed to speak to the noble assembly.

Thank you so much Mister Vice-President, Madam Speaker, ladies and gentleman for this amazing honor. I am nearly breathless with excitement, having this wonderful chance to speak to the men and women representing the people of our great democracy & share my thoughts with you. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I represent no one but myself.

You have arrived in your current positions, as employees of the People of the United States, selected by election, by making huge sacrifices of time and resources. You possess enormous power to affect the lives of Americans, people around the world, in fact the planet itself and all its inhabitants.

How you choose to use this power is of vital importance to all of us, and it depends, in my opinion, on how well you understand yourselves. I want to help you be effective, do a really good job, so I am going to explain how I think your minds work, and how understanding that can help you perform your jobs better.

You are human beings, and behave like human beings. We all have basic needs which we are always trying to meet. Chief among these needs is simple survival, which requires we have shelter, food, health, financial security, and freedom from fear.

Once our survival needs are met, we seek to meet our emotional needs. We are rational beings, but when it comes to motivation, rational thoughts are secondary to emotions. In a high position among these needy emotions is self-esteem, a feeling of being consequential. There is a word for that. Ego.

Having chosen which emotional need to serve, we choose how to fulfill that need. Long ago I examined myself, and found that helping people made me feel very, very good, helped me achieve my goal of feeling consequential, fed my ego. So I made helping people one of my regular activities.

It hasn’t been enough I want more – to help even more people, to be of greater consequence. That led me to this event, this speech. If I could influence really powerful people, people who could improve the lives of millions, help them to do a better job, I would feel great.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am just like you. My behavior is dominated by my selfish needs. What makes me different is that I understand that basic fact of human behavior, and because I understand it, I can make choices you are unable to make. I can choose which emotional needs to fill, and how to meet those needs. There is a word for that. Powerful.

I am going to repeat what I said a moment ago, because this is so important. We do not make choices rationally. We choose what to do and how to do it for one reason – to fulfill our emotional needs. Our rational explanations for our choices may be genuine, but are often rationalizations. Very often.

The odd thing here is that you appear to understand that people are making emotional choices when they vote. Your advertisements and speeches are designed to evoke emotions. Can you apply that same understanding to yourselves?

You sought political position because of your intense desire to experience power, to fulfill your ego needs. That is your chosen pathway from emotional need to fulfillment, and it controls all that you do on the job.

You may have achieved power in some other sphere – business, law, medicine or academia for example. You may have achieved wealth, which you understand is a tool to acquire possessions and power. Whatever you had achieved, it wasn’t enough. You wanted more influence and to be of greater consequence, so you clawed your way to your current positions. That is why you are here.

Now what about matters of state? What about improvements in national security, the well being of your constituents, the economy, education and so on. Isn’t achievement in those matters what primarily motivates you? There is an answer to that. No.

You might have genuine opinions about these and other matters. You may honestly mean everything you say in public. You may, on the other hand, have selected your important issues, your opinions, because you think those positions further your primary goal – your position in Congress, your ambition, your self esteem, your consequential self. The opinions you present to the public are always, always secondary to your primary, personal, emotional needs.

You are wondering “Are there any exceptions? Can’t some of us put aside our emotional, personal needs and work primarily on behalf of the people?” There is an answer to that. No. Every decision is subjected to the same criteria – how will it help me.

I want to be of consequence, to feel important, to have influence. I know that I am always feeding my basic, emotional needs. You have persuaded yourselves that you are really trying to serve the people, and that your own self-interests are secondary.

You may think that you truly believe in the stands you take, but, let’s be honest. If acting on behalf of the people really came first this Congress would not be so bitterly divided. You would engage in discussion, dialogue, conversation, exchange of ideas and then reach conclusions and adopt positions. You would write legislation as a collection of teams, working together, not apart and in separate, opposing and combative caucuses.

Because I understand this basic fact of how people operate, I have power that you can only dream of having. I have the power to decide which emotional needs to work on, how to meet my needs, and how to do it in a way that makes me proud. I can make the positions I take consistent and honest, because I choose them knowing who I am and what I want.

So, ladies and gentleman of the Congress, here is what I want you to do.

Examine yourselves very carefully. Discover what you really want for yourself, and how you can achieve your goals – your emotional goals. You might choose self-respect. You might choose the pride of your family members. You might choose the need to be pointed to as an example to emulate. You might choose a desire to be remembered in song and story as a hero. You might choose the need to be able to do what Mark Twain suggested – prepare your final words to describe a life well lived. You might, on the other hand, decide to hurt as many people as possible.

I hope not.

Once you have found your emotional core, the part of you that needs attention, select specific things you can do to achieve your inner needs. You may decide that you can best achieve them by quitting your elected office. If not, here are a few suggestions:

Enhance the opportunities for children to achieve their full potential.

Assist your constituents in fully understanding the philosophy and procedures of government that make this a democracy and a republic.

Provide the means for preserving a healthy Earth for all its present and future inhabitants.

Put an end to war.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Now that I have explained who I believe you are, I am going to tell you what your job is, the assignment the founders gave you when they wrote the Constitution of the United States of America

What is your assignment? What did the People hire you to do?

Your job is to learn everything you can about how government works what government can and cannot do for the benefit of the people of the United States, and then do it.

To put it another way, you are to do what the people would ask you to do if they understood what was in their best interest.

Get it? You are not to do what the people say they want. After all, you are the professionals, the ones who have acquired, or have the resources to acquire, all the knowledge you need to make this country even greater, and its people more secure, fulfilled and happy. Your job is to determine what is best for the people, your constituents, do it, and then – tell them what you did and why you did it.

What an idea!! You are to be legislator… and educator, doer… and teacher. There is a word for that. Leader.

Let me explain how this works.

You are presented with a problem. You assign the problem to a committee. In committee you agree to consider the issue, and then instruct your staff to gather together authorities, experts, to educate you on the matter.

After you have examined their written and oral presentations, you talk, discuss, even argue, but all with the purpose of finding the best solution to the problem. Then, as a group, you decide on a course of action and if it requires legislation you write the legislation, instead of letting lobbyists do it, and present it to the whole House and Senate.

You know the rest.

Throughout this process you go into your leadership role and communicate the matter to your constituents, ask for their input and listen to them, share with them the information you have gathered, what questions remain, and finally, what opinion you have developed after deliberation. After you vote, you would begin your speech to your constituents with these words: I did this because it was the right thing to do. Then you would explain why.

That is your job.

Please do it.

Thank you.
Address to Congress by Roberta Carichner