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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Balls: The Nature of War and the Struggle for Peace
This is a day of reflection for me. There are days of introspection, when my thoughts turn inward toward my own Self as a writer, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, and a friend. There are other times, like today, when the thoughts turn outward to events in the world that deserve comment -- for whatever it is worth. Sometimes, the only worth to what I say is in the saying -- getting it out of my system so I can move on. I am among the virtually powerless in the world, and I recognize that. But, together, we have power to make a change (I still believe that) and individually, I have the power to resist. I resist evil. I do not go to battle zones and refugee camps to pass out food and water, I am not that strong. I do not stand in front of a moving tank in order to stop it, I am not that brave. I do scream in unity with those who do.
The events in the Ukraine and in Israel have demoted the events in Iraq to barely a squib on the national news. The missing kidnapped girls of Nigeria have been all but forgotten. And once again people are being killed -- innocent people are being butchered -- by soldiers and so-called soldiers who play at war. It is a fact that the hundred years since the beginning or World War One (the anniversary of which, by the way, is next Monday) has been the bloodiest in human history. We are good at killing each other, and getting more efficient every day. We long ago stopped having to see our enemy to kill him, making his death more and more abstract, unreal, forgivable and forgettable. For Americans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were remote to the Nth degree, with barely one percent of the populace actively engaged in military activities, and they all volunteers. It is also a fact that fighting goes on somewhere in the world every day, like man-made forest fires threatening to burn down a handful of buildings but no major towns. Who cares? Who really cares?
The consequence of war is loss, at least for its victims. Yet someone profits from it, uses it as a tool for gain: usually, power, be it political or economic. The axiom, "follow the money," almost always applies. For us, where there is oil, there are we. Where there is none, there are our diplomats. Yet was is illegal. It was so declared in 1928 by the League of Nations, after the French and Americans put together the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But the League had no teeth: one of the two major craftsmen of the Pact was not even a member. And, besides, how do you enforce such a law? It is easier to accept war as a part of human nature, sort of a rutting ritual for our young men, than as something evil to be overcome. I have watched the world for most of my 64 years with keen interest, and studied human history with a particular eye toward the wars that seem to dominate that story. And I want to believe that we can evolve. I know that we should.
But what will it take? There is no easy or practical solution, the issue is more complicated and widespread than gun control in the United States. And the United Nations, successor to the League, itself has no balls, even with the United States as a major member. So I propose the UN grow a set and act in an impractical way: declare universal disarmament. Take away the weapons of war, and there is a good chance you take away war. But, of course, sitting up here in my home near Flathead Lake, tranquil, warm, and well fed, it's easy for me to say. And, being an American I realize that disarmament begins at home.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..