Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pacifism’

Note – the video doesn’t play directly from the blog, but does from YouTube.  Click the link and watch it; you’ll be glad you did.

Veteran’s Day can be a challenging observation for those of us in the peace movement. As a committed pacifist, I deplore all war. The very existence of armed conflict is, in my view, the most colossal and self-defeating waste of resources ever devised by humanity. At the same time, I recognize the sacrifices of women and men who have gone to war – some voluntarily and some not so. I’ve seen minds damaged and families destroyed by the aftermath of battle. I’ve seen good people walking around with physical and emotional injuries that will never show. And I cannot help but honor these women and men, not because of the injuries, but because of the sacrifices they made out of love of country. I may not agree with the need for those sacrifices, but I surely honor the people who made them.

Utah Phillips once said that the way wars can end is when soldiers start talking about what it was really like. He has said that his time in Panmunjom immediately after the treaty was “absolute life amid the ruins.”

On today’s Morning Edition, National Public Radio’s political commentator Cokie Roberts talked about the effect of fewer veterans serving in Congress. “You see it in debates about taking the United States into military actions where you don’t hear the voices of those very experienced veterans.” I wondered how eager politicians would be to enter wars if more of them understood it better.

I’ve always appreciated A. L. Lloyd’s Seamen’s Hymn. In its brief simplicity it captures both the honor of sacrifice and the cruelty of war:

Come all you bold seamen
Wherever you’re bound
And always let Nelson’s
Proud memory go round.

And pray that the wars
And the tumult shall cease
For the greatest of gifts
Is a sweet lasting peace.

May the Lord put an end
To these cruel old wars
And bring peace and contentment
To all our brave tars!

There are several videos of performances of “The Seamen’s Hymn,” but to my ear this recording from a pub sing captures it best. This is how the song should be sung – by the people, often and loudly.

On this Veteran’s Day, may we honor sacrifices made in war, recognize its cruelty, and join together in prayer for the greatest of gifts – a sweet lasting peace.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today is the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. The first moments of that war were heavily televised, though we saw very little that our government didn’t wish us to see.  Cameras placed on the bottoms of planes gave us the illusion that bombs could be “smart,” hit only their targets and would never hurt the general population – with whom, we were told, we had no quarrel.  Even those of us who protested the war thought it would be over quickly – though many raised concerns over its longer term impacts.  The nightly television coverage seemed to confirm these predictions, as we dropped bomb after bomb after bomb on Baghdad.  Hearing the blasé attitudes of television reporters chatting cheerfully over footage of death raining on human beings sickened me, and I wrote this poem, which now I give to you:

Windows onto the destruction
propped open in the living room;
Almost game-like in precision;
horrific in carnage.
Only 56 killed, we hear through narrow cracks.
It is a half truth.
When we turn to the window,
pry open the jammed frame,
the smell sickens.
It isn’t the 56 young Americans,
not mostly.
It is the stench of a hundred,
a thousand
two thousand
men
children
women,
fighters or lovers,
death knows no distinctions of
innocence or guilt.
The 20 megatons that would
pulverize a palace
destroy a slum.
“Regrettable.”
The lives of our soldiers
more precious than their children,
our integrity dies in the furnace.

They told us we lost our innocence
the day two towers fell.
It was a lie.
We found our innocence
the day we died.
We lost our innocence
the day
we killed.

– Dan Schatz
March 2003

Read Full Post »