Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!

 "War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace." --Thomas Mann 

I skipped the annual Fourth of July festivities this year. I no longer have the stomach for hyperbolic speeches delivered by corrupt politicians proclaiming the inevitability of war.

If I don't support a war I believe is unjust, I'm accused of being unpatriotic. That confuses me. How is it possible to champion the men and women doing battle without giving credence to a war I personally believe is wrong? I don't know how to connect those dots.  

I’ll bet those deployed men and women would rather have been at home surrounded by their own people on the Fourth of July. No doubt they would have been happier stuffing themselves with hot dogs, apple pie and cold beer. If they had not been fighting a war, they would have been singing the national anthem along with the local high school band, and waving miniature flags to the beat of Stars and Stripes Forever. I respect these soldiers for the sacrifices they make every day and I pray each night that they all come home soon, alive and in one piece.   

Our National Guardsmen fighting in the Middle East were deployed for an undetermined period of time, ordered by our leaders to go. They answered the call, convinced that America's War on Terror would protect us from misguided Muslims intent on killing us all. I greatly honor these soldiers for their willingness to defend our country, but they should have been at home firing up barbecue grills, not firing guns in the name of Old Glory.   

Some soldiers fight, not after being coerced into joining this man's army by fast talking politicians or military recruiters, but because they believe our elected officials have the last word and ought to know what's what. Fed the political fodder that "to fight them over there" meant we wouldn't have to "fight them over here." They swallowed it whole. Not long before, those soldiers were children, many brought up in religious homes where grace was said before meals and the Golden Rule learned at an early age. Turning a deaf ear to logic and old-fashioned common sense, those grown children now follow orders without question, even when it means torturing other human beings.   

I don't know how to support a military whose philosophy sanctions all the things I do not believe are right. My core belief system prescribes peace, not a declaration of war as a reaction to anger or economic stress.

And therein lies the rub, the conundrum, the moral quandary with which I, and other Americans are forced to grapple these days. War, some say, is inevitable. But how can that be when it flies in the face of all things holy? War, in and of itself, takes away our humanness.   

We have learned to harness, if not control, hurricanes and the like by searching for and finding innovative tools with which to deal with the forces of nature. But for some, survival translates to us against them, kill or be killed. Why are we not looking for groundbreaking solutions to end this kind of primordial thinking?   

To the victors go the spoils? American men and women fighting in the Middle East today too often give up life and limb but receive no victory rewards, no spoils of war. We label them heroes and feel overwhelmingly sad when they return in wheelchairs, comas or coffins. The brightest and best of an entire generation sacrifice their future while we do very little to find a lasting solution.

Are we such lazy thinkers that the option to kill and destroy is the best we can come up with?   

We have glorified the act of war for too long. Isn't it time to leave no stone unturned in a quest to find alternatives that work for everyone? We must take issue with fear tactics spouted by greedy politicians intent on padding their pockets on the sacrifices made by our children. If we cannot see that war is a form of mass murder, then how will we ever take that giant leap for mankind?   

War is not John Wayne sporting a cocky green beret; it is the taking of human lives.
War is not the settling of conflicts; it is the creation of resentment that leads to more conflicts.   
War is not God's will; it is an unholy thing that steals our souls.   

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