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Robert Koehler
Robert Koehler, a Chicago reporter and editor for over 30 years, proudly calls himself a peace journalist. He has won numerous awards for his writing and, since 1999, has written a nationally syndicated column on politics and current events for Tribune Media Services. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, has recently been published by Xenos Press. The book is a collection of essays fused into several narratives. They run the gamut from the highly personal (dealing with grief, the death of his wife, single parenting) to the acutely political. The book is about the quest for both inner and outer peace and the urgency of both. His columns, along with information about his book, are available at He can be reached at

Entries by Robert Koehler

A 10-Minute Debate on War

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2016 | 3:23 PM

"Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly, possibly . . ."

This is -- who else? -- Donald Trump, flexing, you might say, his nuclear trigger finger in an interview with Chris Matthews, who responds in...

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Rethinking Criminal Justice

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2016 | 5:48 PM

For over forty years our criminal justice system has over-relied on punishment, policing, incarceration and detention. This has ushered in an age of mass incarceration. This era is marked by sentencing policies that lead to racially disproportionate incarceration rates and a variety of 'collateral consequences' that have harmed our communities...
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Quiet War, Sleeping Nation

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 7:41 PM

And the race goes on. So does the war, but you'd never know that the one had anything to do with the other.

Even when the mainstream media trouble themselves to acknowledge that the primary season remains open on the Democratic side, that Bernie Sanders -- and his millions of...

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Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2016 | 4:51 PM

"The people are being reduced to blood and dust. They are in pieces."

The doctor who uttered these words still thought the hospital itself was a safe zone. He was with Doctors Without Borders, working in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the Taliban and government forces were engaged in hellish fighting and...

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Opening the Closed Political Culture

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2016 | 8:52 PM

The headline, from the Los Angeles Times, hit me like a sucker punch: "Voters' 'Bernie or Bust' efforts persist despite Sanders' vow not to be another Ralph Nader."

Actually, it was worse than that. When my brain cleared, I realized I was, once again, caught in a media...

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The New Enlightenment

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2016 | 7:37 PM

What remains endlessly hinted at about the 2016 presidential race, but not fully articulated, is that something enormous -- bigger than politics, bigger than America itself, perhaps -- is trembling and kicking just below the surface, struggling to emerge.

I have a name to suggest for this hypothetical phenomenon: the...

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Creating Resilient Communities

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 5:37 PM

"Conflict happens in isolation."

Wow, that's it. A sense of awareness ignited as I listened to Kristin Famula, president of the National Peace Academy, make this seldom-acknowledged observation. When we feel wronged, violated, disrespected, suddenly we're alone with our careening emotions.

Indeed, this is what makes it a...

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Democracy Free-for-All

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2016 | 4:08 PM

Here in America, we celebrate democracy by staying in touch with the lack of it. What better way to honor our ancestors' struggles to win the right to vote -- and have that vote counted -- than to have to struggle ourselves for the same thing?

Considering that,

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Playing with Guns

(2) Comments | Posted March 31, 2016 | 6:00 PM

You shouldn't play with guns, unless you do it the way "Jim" apparently did.

His gun play -- a (seemingly) satirical petition at -- has enveloped the looming Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer in awkward surrealism and forced the three Republican presidential candidates to...

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Recovering From Militarism

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2016 | 4:37 PM

The pols cry glory and revenge. They cry security. They cry greatness.

Then they stick in the needle, or the missile or the rifle shell, or the nuclear bomb. Or at least they imagine doing so. This will fix the world. And they approve more funding for war.


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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2016 | 2:16 PM

The snaking line was more than a mile long. Thousands of us had been waiting for hours in the bitter cold to get into Chicago's Auditorium Theatre to hear Bernie Sanders speak. It was Monday night. The Illinois and four other state primaries were the next day and, as has...

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Politics and the Golden Rule

(1) Comments | Posted March 10, 2016 | 2:23 PM

"What I'm not trying to do is just pass legislation. I'm trying to change the face of American politics."

Pull these words out of the context of "the news" and let them pulse like the heartbeat of the future.

The words are those of Bernie Sanders, of course --...

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War, Peace and Bernie Sanders

(6) Comments | Posted March 3, 2016 | 12:58 PM

It's the day after the big vote and I'm doing my best to dig Tulsi Gabbard's endorsement of Bernie Sanders out from beneath the pile of Super Tuesday numbers and media declarations of winners and losers.

As a Boston Globe headline put it: "Clinton and Trump are now...

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Finding Peace at the Heart of Grief

(0) Comments | Posted February 25, 2016 | 1:38 PM

A young, much-beloved woman was gang-raped three years ago on a bus in Delhi and a culture exploded.

The documentary India's Daughter, which addresses the horrific rape-murder and its aftermath, is part of that explosion of awareness, aimed straight at the heart of India's cultural dismissal of women...

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Beached America

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2016 | 2:29 PM

For at least the last four decades now I feel like I've been living in Beached America: a nation that has lost its values, even as it writhes in violent agitation, inflicting its military on the vulnerable regions of the planet.

It does so in the name of those lost...

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Confronting Our Toxic Legacy

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2016 | 3:20 PM

Maybe if we declared "war" on poison water, we'd find a way to invest money in its "defeat."

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, writing at Tom Dispatch this week about what they called "The United States of Flint," make this point:

The price tag for replacing the...
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Four Horsemen of the Democracy

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2016 | 12:00 PM

"It was also a shock to the system that a candidate universally known in Iowa, with deep pockets and long experience, could come close to losing to a relative unknown who was initially considered little more than a protest candidate."

Just think of it! The tiny, tightly controlled consciousness that...

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Presidential Politics and the American Soul

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 4:43 PM

When I want to believe that America is a democracy -- indeed, to feel so deeply this is so that my soul trembles -- I turn to Martin Luther King, who gave his life for it.

He cried out for something so much more than a process: a game of...

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Evolution: The Candidate

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2016 | 4:17 PM

"And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what's best in us, and not what's worst?"

The president asked the right question in his State of the Union address last week. What if he'd actually answered it -- or at least addressed it honestly?

Oh, torn heart,...

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Kayla's Legacy

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2016 | 1:41 PM

She had so little and she had so much.

I didn't know her, except for the tiny piece of her life that was revealed in the 2013 documentary "Hear Our Voices," directed by David and Patricia Earnhardt, but her candid, gutsy presence in that film was sufficient to...

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