By Cappy Hall Rearick
"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace." --Thomas Mann
I plan to skip the annual 4th of July festivities this year because I don’t have the stomach for hyperbolic speeches delivered by corrupt politicians. They seem intent on spoon-feeding us the righteousness of war, but I won't swallow it anymore.
I am told to support the troops because not supporting them is unpatriotic. But suppose they gave a war and nobody came? How do I defend our men and women fighting in Iraq without giving credibility to an unjust war? How do I connect those dots?
I believe the deployed men and women would rather be with their own people on the Fourth, happily stuffing themselves with hot dogs, apple pie and cold beer. They might rather be singing the national anthem accompanied by a high school band or waving miniature flags to the beat of 'Stars and Stripes Forever.' I respect all soldiers for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make each day. I honor their courage but I pray they can come home soon, alive and in one piece.
The National Guardsmen fighting in Iraq were called up for an undetermined period of time because our leaders ordered them to go. They went, convinced that Bush's War on Terror would protect this country from misguided Muslim terrorists intent on killing us all. I greatly honor these soldiers for their willingness to give up so much in order to defend our country, but I wish they could be at home firing up the barbecue grill instead of firing guns in the name of Old Glory.
There are some soldiers who fight, not because they were coerced into joining this man's army by fast-talking politicians or the military, but because they are convinced that the Commander-in-Chief knows what he's doing. They were fed the political fodder that 'to fight them over there' means we won't have to 'fight them over here,' and they swallowed it whole.
Not so long ago, those soldiers were children, many brought up in religious homes where grace was said before meals and the Golden Rule memorized at an early age. Turning a deaf ear to logic and old-fashioned common sense, these grown children now follow orders without question, even if it means torturing other human beings. Do the soldiers raised in a Christian home ever ask themselves the question, WWJD?
My core beliefs tell me that peace is precious. Declaring war should never come easy. I don't know how to support an army whose philosophy sanctions the very things I have never believed in. And therein lies the rub, the conundrum, the moral quandary with which I, and many other Americans are forced to grapple today. Some say war is a necessary evil, but how can that be when it flies in the face of all things holy? Killing people, whether in war or otherwise, snatches away our humanness.
We have learned to harness, if not control, hurricanes by searching for and finding innovative tools with which to handle the forces of nature. Why aren't we looking for groundbreaking solutions to end warfare’s primordial way of thinking? Must we be the victims of faulty reasoning, that of kill or be killed, dictated by the people in power?
To the victors go the spoils.
The American men and women fighting in the Middle East today too often give up life and limb but receive no spoils of war, no rewards. We label them heroes and feel overwhelmingly sad when they return in wheelchairs, comas or body bags. The brightest and best of an entire generation are talked into sacrificing their future while we do nothing to find lasting solutions to world problems.
Are we such lazy thinkers that the option to kill and destroy is all we can come up with?
We have glorified the act of war for too long. Today, we must leave no stone unturned in our quest to find alternatives that work for everyone. We must take issue with fear tactics liberally spouted by greedy politicians getting rich on the sacrifices made by our children. If we cannot see that war is another form of mass slaughter, then how will we ever take that giant leap for mankind?
War is not John Wayne with a green beret and a swagger; it is the theft of human lives.
War is not conflict resolution; it creates resentments that lead to even more conflicts.
War is not God's will; it is unholy and it steals our children and the souls of mankind.
Published by permission of the author.