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Here in Colorado Springs, student and community organizers invited me to help plan a workshop promoting their campaign against a proposed municipal “No Camping” ordinance, a law that would ban homeless people from sleeping on sidewalks or public lands within the city limits. The organizers believe it’s wrongful to criminalize homeless people.

Some of the people who oppose allowing homeless people to live in tent encampments near Colorado Springs are concerned that the tent dwellers create trash, pose a threat to tourists and trail users and could cause environmental degradation and fire safety concerns.

Colorado Springs is home to the Fort Carson Army base, Peterson Air Force base, the Schriever Air Force Base (formerly Falcon AFB), the Norad and Cheyenne Air Force Stations and the United States Air Force Academy.

It seems plausible that the U.S. military could also be scrutinized for creating waste, destruction, fear, fiery blasts, massive casualties and environmental degradation. But it’s highly unlikely that a No-Basing ordinance will appear before the City Council of Colorado Springs.

“In this new decade,” President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, “it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.”

On Feb. 1, Obama submitted a budget asking $708 billion for the Department of Defense. Keeping one U.S. soldier on the ground in Afghanistan, for one year, costs $1 million. The president’s budget suggests that U.S. decency requires sending U.S. troops to live in one of the poorest countries in the world, equipped with massive arsenals and sophisticated attack systems.

During a visit to neighboring Pakistan, last spring, close to 3 million people had been displaced by attacks that the U.S. insisted Pakistan’s military must wage against possible al Qaeda and Taliban militants. Still more abandoned their homes hoping to flee U.S. drone attacks.

Who will educate us to better understand that being seen as a menace, internationally, jeopardizes our security? As a start, we can turn to the caring community organizers in Colorado Springs and other cities who are working hard to share resources with needy people.

Kathy Kelly is a peace activist and co-founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at KGNU studios, 4700 Walnut St., Boulder. A donation of $10-$20 is requested.

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