My NoWar Academy and Martin Luther King’s Ten Commandments

My NoWar Academy and Martin Luther King’s Ten Commandments
by Lisa Massaciùccoli

“When it comes to matters of life and death — where it counts — Obama has nothing in common with Martin Luther King. And he holds no promise of pleasing Martin. As Ayman al-Zawahri says, he’s merely one of many abeed al-beit, house slaves.” — The author’s father

“The first clue, lesson number one from human history on the subject of nonviolence, is that there is no word for it…. Nonviolence is not the same thing as pacifism, for which there are many words. Pacifism is treated almost as a psychological condition. It is a state of mind. Pacifism is passive; but nonviolence is active. Pacifism is harmless and therefore easier to accept than nonviolence, which is dangerous.” — Mark Kurlansky, from Non-Violence: The History of a Dangerous Idea

NoWar Academy. Nowhere Academy. This project doesn’t have a chance in hell, this idea of pulling together an institute of sorts, an Institute of History (of Nonviolence) in Northern Tuscany.

Nevertheless,… (Pause)

This reminds me of a joke which has nevertheless as its punch line:

Eleanor Roosevelt is the featured speaker for Arbor Day at an elementary school somewhere in the 40s Midwest, and she opens her speech by noting the significance of the nationally-celebrated observance, quickly leading into an introduction to one of the little speakers for the day: “Mary Lou Fellito of the 4th grade will begin with a recitation of the poem Trees,” says Eleanor at the podium. And from the third row of fold up chairs on the school’s lawn a voice rings out, “Mary Lou sucks!” “Nevertheless,…”, responds Eleanor.

Obviously, this is a joke that plays upon the optimism for which FDR’s wife was well-known.

I’m not a big Eleanor Roosevelt fan, not by a long shot. But I think it’s important to start off lightly. Mainly because what we face and what I have to say is so daunting. As MLK said, when he was closest in thought to Malcolm X, people may be poor and oppressed and have nothing… supporters of such souls may have nothing to fight with… but they do have the capacity to die. The powers that be can battle against guns, but not that in the long term, and they know it. So the key to confrontation is holding the long view… and arriving at the point where one is not afraid to die. For you are not free — can never be free — as long as you are afraid to die. How did I do with that, Martin? Malcolm? NoWar might, at the very least, prep people for an appreciation of such sacrifice. To my mind, that’s a much better expenditure of heartbeats than prepping for patriotism.

Why will we be successful on some very important level? Why will enough young people — not yet set in their ways irreversibly — sign on to join me in Lucca, Italy? Or Bologna. Or in Parma. Somewhere.

One reason is that I hear a lovely voice telling me — incessantly — to do it. That they will join us.

But there is another important reason, and it has to do with how I like to play pool.

American, Australian and British pool players, among others, shoot and compete so that where balls go down they stay down. In Italy, anything you knock down gets placed back into play on the table immediately. My favorite version is where there are no pockets at all, and you just keep playing. As long as you like… with a bottle of Colline Lucchesi within easy reach.

With the USers, Brits and Aussies the game is concerned with winning, putting down the opponent for good, if you will. With a kind of parallel to some modern versions of various religions running throughout, whereby one focuses on eliminating Evil. Permanently.

Well, there will be no illusions about Good triumphing on any definitive basis vis-a-vis the NoWar Academy.

No, it will just afford an opportunity to line up your white balls or black balls against your opponent’s red or blue ones. Or vice versa. To enjoy the sound of the balls clicking off one another, and appreciate the heated felt.

Oh, it will be a success… being enveloped by porcini mushrooms, Felippo Berio’s olive oil and unlimited fresh pasta… and its spotlight on unnecessary murder.

I close with lines written by Martin Luther King, put down on a scrap piece of paper and carried around with him in his breast pocket regularly… following his decision to take a clear stand against our abominations in Vietnam. Which stand took place shortly before his assassination, as you know.

Coretta Scott King read those “Ten Commandments” to an appreciative crowd three weeks after her husband’s death. They are well worth reviewing at present.

I. Thou shalt not believe in a military victory.

II. Thou shalt not believe in a political victory.

III. Thou shalt not believe that the Vietnamese love us.

IV. Thou shalt not believe that the Saigon government has support of the people.

V. Thou shalt not believe that the majority of the South Vietnamese look upon the Viet Cong as terrorists.

VI. Thou shalt not believe the figures of killed Americans or killed enemies.

VII. Thou shalt not believe that the generals know best.

VIII. Thou shalt not believe the the enemies’ victory means… communism.

IX. Thou shalt not believe that the world supports the U.S.

X. Thou shalt not kill.

Never more.

Lisa can be reached at