(The following is a guest post by Larry McKay of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). This is Larry’s powerful speech given at the Pittsburgh March for Peace on August 25, 2018, in front of the Software Engineering Institute, not far from Carnegie Mellon University.)
Hello, my name is Larry McKay, I’m a native Pittsburgher and a member of Students for a Democratic Society at Carnegie Mellon University. Our chapter of SDS has been working on creating more public discussion surrounding CMUs relationship with the Department of Defense.
The Software Engineering Institute, which we are gathered in front of today, is just one CMU research and development facility, funded by the US military to create the warfighters of tomorrow, including autonomous land vehicles and drones. Moreover, CMU is a major recruitment hub for the largest arms manufacturers in the world. Companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Electric are always scouting for new talent and the CMU
administration is always a welcoming host.
This research, development, and recruitment for the United States military apparatus must be appreciated in the context of the abject failure of US foreign policy to promote peace, and the security of its citizens. Jihadi terrorism has in fact spread since the declaration of the war on terror in 2001. Much of the Middle East and North Africa have become increasingly destabilized, and although the grand rhetoric of many would indicate otherwise, people outside of the United States do not see us as a bringer of democracy, but a bringer of violence and destruction; an
occupying foreign invader; a superpower drunk with its own military might.
Despite the grim, and at times unbearable nature, of seemingly endless wars, today as I have the privilege and freedom to stand with you all, and march for the sake of a lasting peace, I find the overwhelming emotion to be, not despair, but hope.
As long as there are individuals gathered in the spirit of solidarity, there is hope. As long as there are individuals willing to stand together, to express their collective dissent and offer up their combined energies for social change, there is hope. Such engagement, if it is sustained and creative, could bring the war machine to a screeching halt. As long as people resist, and love, and reason, there is hope that diplomacy will triumph over hot-headed aggression.
For those wavering between hope and despair for the prospects of peace, I ask you to draw inspiration from the brave individuals you see yourself surrounded by today. For those wavering between hope and despair, I ask you to consider that this march today is just one small part of a rising resistance movement – a movement that contains the germs of a peaceful world. For those wavering between hope and despair, I ask you, to pick hope even if only for today – even if it hurts, even if you’re afraid of being let down again, even if you’ve given up hope a long time
ago, today pick hope.
Hope is what movements for social change are organized around – shared hopes for the future; wild hopeful visions of freedom, equality, and the blossoming of human personality. Today we must strengthen our hope for peace, and use it to propel us towards that perfect end.