Remembrance, Peace, Healing and Cannon Fodder

When a human being consciously believes they are offering their life for a cause greater than themselves, they choose the path of hero.

I may not support the cause, however, I honor the individual for the nobility of their act and respect a person’s right to choose how they may possibly die.

With honor to the men and women who serve…

Yesterday, my US Air Force veteran spouse and I visited the Dignity Memorial Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, now on the final leg of it’s tour before retirement to a museum.

As a Marine Corps wife during the Vietnam war, the wall brought back powerful and painful memories. I’m profoundly grieved by this compelling reminder we humans have been involved in the earth experience for thousands of years and haven’t yet found a peaceful way to resolve international differences. I pray every day we get a lot smarter in a very short time. Since Lysistrata, mass sexual boycott has been a powerful tool for peace consciousness. Hello? An end to combat may really be so simple.

Turning from the memorial to look across the grounds I saw recruitment tents. To make sure I read the situation correctly, I approached a uniformed man behind the table:
Me: “Are you recruiting?”
He: “We’re trying not to.”
Me: “What’s your purpose here then?”
He: (Indicating a precision fan of brochures and pamphlets) “We’re providing information and handing out presents.” (Presents was the term he used for trinkets marching between the pamphlets. Do military marketers really believe we’d raise young people gullible enough to sign their lives away for a few gimcracks?)
Me: “So you’re recruiting?”

He had the grace to look chagrined and didn’t answer. To his credit, he couldn’t lie.

Most folks, whatever their their political or military persuation, would acknowledge using a memorial as a shil for business is ill mannered at the least. The title of the traveling exhibit and the stark reality of a recruiting presense set up an irreconcilable dissonance for me. Exploitation of the intense and vulnerable emotions from those at a vigil for the thousands of men and women who served and died is conscious less.

The Other

Easter Sunday we visited at the bunkers on the Oregon coast. The most profound epiphany I had for the day was war is stupid. Wasteful.  There’s nothing creative and life affirming about violence of any kind. It doesn’t matter who started it, which of us is the most right or wrong. We end up physically and emotionally maimed when we fight with each other at any level. Doesn’t matter the side we’re on, we’re just as deceased when we encounter the tools of the trade. I find no justification for war. If someone chooses to play at war, that’s their right and I frequently wonder if we’re fighting for the right or the right to be right. Someone will inevitably step up to defend the position of national ego and talk about which side bombed what side first in any conflict. Does any mother putting her son or daughter in the ground really care about a defensive position? Economics as a secondary impetus (religion is usually the first) and territory. I’m no talking head but it seems history is a great teacher if any of us would pay attention. War only succeeds when we turn our fellow human beings into Them to distance the other enough so we can stomach watching them die en masse on the six o’clock news. So where are the mothers and wives and sisters and daughters and aunties and grandmothers when the menfolk are out getting themselves slaughtered? We raise them. What are we teaching them? And now we’re joining them. In the struggle for equality as we shoulder our weapons, kiss our children goodbye and march off,  it’s possible we’ve become the worst of men instead of the best of women but finally equal enough to take life with the impunity of zealous justification. And before we point fingers, we don’t have to leave the comfort of our homes to engage in warfare. Vicariously in the constantly streaming media or raging with a spouse, child, or neighbor, we’re war and war is ignorant. Respect, reciprocity and communication make for interesting relationships, between individuals, groups and nations. For the first time in the history of the earth, we’re at a place where if we’re to survive as a species we must work and play together, learn to communicate no matter what our affiliation, for the good of every one of us. We are at the pivotal place in evolution where simply looking another human in the eyes, seeing them, acknowledging them and their right to live and have peace on the earth might be enough to save the planet, one other person at a time.