To Create the News of Our Common Life

From Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War, edited and with an introduction by Kim Stafford:

Every War Has Two Losers All his life William Stafford was witness for a comprehensive view. He believed in the fragile but essential community of the world, and he wrote on behalf of what he called “the unknown good in our enemies.” In his view, such a life of witness was both compassionate and profoundly practical—in the long term, wars simply don’t work as well as reconciliation. So every day of his life, from those years in World War II until his death in 1993, William Stafford would rise before first light to remember, to ponder, and to write—often writing about peace and reconciliation.

It would be difficult to overestimate the unusual importance of William Stafford’s daily writing practice. Most of us read or hear the daily news, beginning each day with a dose of another person’s truth. My father had a different way: to create the news of our common life by writing your own. This act is true freedom and constructive citizenship. It is available to all of us.

21 February 1951
To hold the voice down and the eyes up when facing someone who antagonizes you is a slight weight—once. But in a lifetime it adds up to tons.

19 May 1963
One must learn to waver.

4 April 1966
One should talk to people, not to “nations,” or “classes,” or “professions,” etc.

22 September 1967
Those who champion democracy, but also make a fetish of never accepting anything they don’t agree with—what advantage do they see in democracy?

25 September 1969
Tyrants depend on helpers.

12 September 1981
The wind you walk against but do not feel is ignorance. Your foolish face has happiness on one side, but the world pressed on the other.

16 September 1981
Winners can lose what winning was for.

14 October 1982
I don’t like to hear from victims. At one remove they remind me of oppressors. And I don’t like oppressors. Oppressors have become the way they are through damaging conditions. Like victims. I want to turn and start over again. As for myself, I don’t want to be an oppressor, nor be like a victim. There are probably ways to live so as to shut out chances to be victimized. Those ways are probably worse than being a victim.