As an adult, I find my childhood musings rather amazing. At the time, the US didn’t speak to Communist China. They were evil. We were trying to pretend that we didn’t think Japan and Germany were evil for WWII. Jim Crow laws still ruled our south. We were getting wound up in the cold war, and children were often warned that Russia would nuke us at any minute. When they did, we were supposed to crawl under our desks at school or under a table at home. Perhaps I thought about these things and other people because my father worked in a classified job. Several times a year the FBI would come and investigate us to make certain my parents were sufficiently loyal to the USA.
As I grew older, I became a supporter of the civil rights movement and later a protestor of the Vietnam War. My childhood conclusions that all people are basically the same led me to believe that there must be a better way to live than to be constantly at war.
So, for almost sixty years, I’ve looked for what that better way might be. I’ve seen stunning examples of how wars are fabricated out of fears and lies in order to make a few people very rich. Men and women march off to foreign lands in pursuit of freedom or the path of glory, hoping to make someone free when those so liberated may not want to pay the price of the type of freedom we offer.
I am still convinced that there has to be a better way. Perhaps the better way is really very simple. Perhaps we the people need to stand up to the greedy power elite and say, “No. We won’t kill so that you can become richer.” Maybe instead of laying flowers on a soldier’s grave in a cemetery far removed from the source of the conflict, we ought to line the streets up to Halliburton headquarters with crosses bearing the names of those who died for their profits. We could decorate them with flowers and light candles. We need to make those who profit from war uncomfortable rather than troubling the poor woman in some far away land who just wants to buy some groceries and go home to put her feet up.
Another thought to consider as we call ourselves exceptional for enforcing justice around the world, just maybe, a country that condones the murder of unarmed black children in our streets does not have the moral high ground to enforce our brand of freedom upon other countries.
No, I am not particularly naïve. I know that where there is true injustice there can never be lasting peace. Still, I look at the wars around me and notice how often my own nation seems to be on the side of the injustice rather than those who are looking for a better way of life. Perhaps the world would have more peace, if we minded our business of cleaning up our streets and let other nations find the level of peace and justice that they can live with.
Just maybe, the best way to honor those who have lost their lives in our continual wars is to take a good, hard look at why we fight and ask what we can do different. How can we have peace?