May 29, 2006
Memorial Day 2006
“Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.” Donald Rumsfeld
I read today that the story of the Marines who murdered 24 men, women and children in Haditha is finally breaking in the “mainstream” media. Which is strange because I remember reading that story weeks ago. I felt that the convergence of the story breaking and Memorial Day would be a good time for me to put in my two cents. As per usual, I was filled with disdain first for the Marines responsible, then with the Marines in general, then for the entire armed forces, then for all soldiers, then for the American Government, then for Americans, then for myself, then for all human kind, when I realized that I was being negative again, and that was leading nowhere. I do, however, think that I should be pardoned for having a depressing view of war in this instance.
So, this time around I want to try something new. Rather than sit here and write a page about the facts of the case, and my disgust with the actions of my fellow man, I thought I would turn my fury into something else and try to create some compassion for the people in Iraq. And I don't mean just the Iraqis. I started to think that maybe even this tiny amount of hatred I brood over, here in my little corner, helps feed the monster that has taken over the world.
If my speech depicts a world populated by bad, incompetent, thoughtless, nasty people, then that's the world I live in. I understand that I will not bring back the life of the people killed in Haditha. I also understand that emanating positive energy will not help restore a nation that has been destroyed by the Untied States of America, but neither will my seething and rage.
Therefore rather than burn an American flag on this Memorial Day, like I wish I could, or write a page about how the very nature of war breeds atrocity, I spent a few minutes trying to understand how insecure a person has to be, to walk into a room and shoot a three-year old girl in the face, right after shooting her grandmother.
It would be easy to say that they were evil. Unfortunately, however, I don't believe in concepts like good and evil or heaven and hell. I find such distinctions too simplistic to adequately explain the human experience. It is too effortless to merely declare that the Marines were evil men, or that the government of the USA is also evil. So then why do these atrocities continue to occur? And why is it that it appears to always be the US military that carries them out? Could it be that the karma of a nation is percolating? Could it be that training young men, with little education, to kill is not a healthy activity for human beings? Could it be that instead if cheering these men on Memorial Day we should find ways to make their jobs obsolete? Should we begin to heal our nation, by refusing to “support the troops” but rather that we should educate and nurture men who would choose to murder in the name of a flag? Even if that flag claims to stand for freedom. If we continue to cheer and ignore the underlying rot that is spreading, then men will plan the construction of the biggest embassy on earth on stolen land, they will build permanent bases in a country they have occupied for three years and steal its resources, and not only that, but they will lie to the world and say they are there for democracy. If we continue to applaud young men and women will continue to travel to far off places and murder women and children?
I suggested that on this Memorial Day, we not only refuse to cheer, but that in addition we refuse to judge. I am the most guilt of this double standard. If I claim that all mankind has hope and should be cherished, if I ask people to love their enemy, than I guess I must do the same. My enemies are the men who control the government of the Untied States. My enemies are soldiers who murder children in a land they could not identify on a map last year. And so if I practice what I preach, I must learn to love these men. I must learn not to hate, but try and help men who murder children because they must be suffering, and my anger and hatred toward them will not assuage their suffering. I want to try understanding them. And as hard as that seems, I think it is valuable to try and comprehend why men like George Bush and Donald Rumsfled act as callously as they do. They are obviously greedy, incompetent men who lack self-esteem. They are bullies who lack the ability to share. They must lack the capability to feel compassion or to love. They are criminals of this I have no doubt. However, I cannot say that they are evil; I will save those easy labels for our Christians friends. All this love your enemy talk got me to think that if I taught students who showed the qualities that these men show, I would try and help them. When faced with a bully, a teacher will try and teach the youngster that there has to be another way. We do not hate our students. We see their shortcomings and try and address them. I will spend some time trying to understand why is it that men like Bush and the Marines responsible for the latest war crime act the way they do, only then can I stop being overcome with hatred.