While we slept, other people were making decisions that affected the whole wide world. That probably discourages most people, but I realized that there were others that had also been awake. They do not have the media or means to easily promote their ideas but the numbers are growing and starting to make a difference.

For example we should know that during the period from 2001-2003 the United States had over 730 military installations and bases in over 50 countries. The U.S. bases are a symbol of a history of armed intervention and control of the region’s people and resources. They also represent a commitment of resources that could otherwise be used for constructive social and environmental programs nationally and internationally.

In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean the military bases secure access to markets and obtaining natural resources, especially oil. The operations and maintenance of those bases are increasingly contracted to private companies.

In addition to the Plan Colombia, the Pentagon has four military bases in Manta, Ecuador, Aruba, Curacao and Comalapa, El Salvador; and small military presence in Antigua, Peru, Venezuela (evicted in May 2004), and Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Not even Cuba has been free of the military presence. The United States is using its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to circunvent international law regarding prisoners of war.

On the other hand as we watch the process of the Social Forum in Brazil, we see the action of thousands of activist from OGN, churches, peace organizations, green parties and so on. They along with the native peoples from the third world countries are voicing their concern about the people, the land, the values, traditions and way of life affected by the interests of power and money.

Whenever the common people demand their rights, the local government relies on their own armies, which have been trained by US to suppress any kind of protest.

All these have happened while we slept. While the agroindustries make it possible to bring cheap fruit and coffee from other lands we continue to ignore how those products reach our table.

While we continue to blame other countries for the drug production, we continue to ignore the domestic demand. Even more we continue to ignore where the investment for such business came from and where is it been saved and reinvested.

While we sleep, wars and violence ruin peoples lives all over the world. Their land is destroyed along with their culture and traditions. We count the dead from the US in Iraq. Do we count the civilians dead in Iraq? Do we count the people that have been displaced by violence and war in places like Colombia and Philippines? Is the violence reigning in other countries related to our consumption?

If you had to make a decision concerning the allocation of your tax money, would you want to invest in education, community development, or health? Do you know that your tax money is used to foster war all over the world?

When was the last time that you talked to someone out of your regular circles? When did you ask that other individual a question and really listened to the answer, not to respond, but to understand? We can continue a culture of talking and been in contact with people like us, that is comforting. We can continue to believe that by e-mailing our ideas and agreeing to demonstrate once in a while, that is also important.

When we become immersed in our own ‘culture’ we risk ignoring others. Could we make a first attempt to meet with others?