I was fortunate to recently host a delegation from the Japan Council against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) which had come to the Seattle area to bring its message of peace and a nuclear weapons-free world. One of the high points was learning the word "Peace" in Japanese - "Heiwa". The delegation's message of peace and a world free of nuclear weapons was well received by everyone they met.
Meanwhile (and in stark contrast), the U.S. keeps fighting its endless War on Terror, which is currently manifested in its entrenched presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan as well. Of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal, who not long ago boasted of military success in, changed his tune last week when he said that, "nobody is winning".
Ironically, no one (except those who profit financially) has been "winning" all along (in any war). As for the U.S., we are sending our sons and daughters off to either die or return physically, psychologically and spiritually wounded. In addition we are bleeding the Treasury and squandering resources (including oil) that would be better used for peaceful purposes.
As for the countries we invade and occupy, their losses are incalculable. We have no idea how man men, women and children we have murdered (courtesy of General Tommy "We don't do body counts" Franks). From the human losses to the destruction of their infrastructure to the environmental damage, we have wrought an extreme tragedy on them.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues with its knee jerk (and impotent) responses to each new "terrorist" attack, trying out something new each time in a frenzy of retaliatory drone attacks and reductions of civil liberties back on the "homeland".
Of course, the worse casualty for the United States is the loss of our collective soul, our humanity. We ignore the pain and suffering of others so long as they are far out of sight (except for the sanitized media images and brief news bits). We are not much different, if any, from the world of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" in which citizens watch news of their wars in neighboring lands on huge wall screens. Only in the end does war come home to roost.
Following the Gensuikyo delegation's presentation at First United Methodist Church of Seattle I had a delightful conversation with Tom Bruhns, the person who handled the sound system for us. Tom later shared a photo he took while in Scotland; in the email he said that:
There is a Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland, just down from the castle. It’s a bit off the street on a pedestrian walkway, with a bit of a courtyard out front. In the courtyard are set some paving stones inscribed with writings of some Scots writers. One caught my attention, and I took a picture of it… The inscription: "Weird hou men maun aye be makin war insteid o things they need." -- Tom Scott (1918-1995) (Scots dialect: hou = how; maun = must)
Indeed, it is high time we start making things we need instead of making war. We can start by ending the absurd and self-defeating War on Terror. To that end we will need to change course and work on diplomatic rather than military solutions; killing lots of civilians with drone strikes and Special Forces raids tends to make more enemies than friends. Ending the occupation of Iraq and creating a comprehensive exit strategy for Afghanistan are necessary if we are to move in this more positive direction. If we succeed, the only losers will be the war profiteers. And as for us??? Perhaps we will win back our humanity.
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