Today is Saturday. Today as the bombs still fall over Yemen, as a young girl from Gaza is imprisoned for protecting herself and her mother is imprisoned for visiting her, and 2018 fast approaches in a few days, I want to reflect on why I am a pacifist, why I am a member of Veterans for Peace, why I pray, work and strive for Peace.
Peace is not just the absence of violence, it is the absence of justice, the absence of respect for all life.
Paul, Matt and I did not choose to be pacifists over night. This was a journey long in the making. Although some people including some of my friends do not share my position, I am not swayed in the least.
I will not speak for my guys who have their own reasons, but what I can tell you that all of our lives, we have known conflict and war.
I joined the Army when I was 18 years old. I wanted to go to college and I did not have the money to do so. I was encouraged to join by my father who had served in the Navy. He told me I would get an education and the GI Bill. Well, I got an education alright.
I remember when my recruiter picked me up late one evening to get me on a bus to Alabama where I would start Basic Training. On our ride to the bus station, he told me I could get all the free contraceptives I wanted because I could, “Sleep with as many guys as I wanted and the Army would pay for it.”
Nice thing to say to an 18 year old girl, who lived by her own prescribed morals that did not include this type of behaviour. Not only did he disrespect me, he disrespected the military organization for which he recruited and all those who were serving regardless of who they were.
I decided that night that I probably made a terrible mistake. I was idealistic, young and I believed I was serving to protect those
I loved. What I learned was that a whole bunch of people like myself were fed the same kind of propaganda. We were noble in our desire and our hearts were pure; but certainly not those who called the shots.
I should have learned after seeing friends’ fathers and brothers coming back (if they came back at all) from Vietnam. We didn’t talk about this war in school at all. As a matter of fact, does any school in this country discuss the wars this country has been involved in except perhaps the American Revolution?
The issue is none of these wars are about protecting the US, they are about aggression and claiming resources. If you don’t study history and talk about wars, then we are doomed to repeat them again and again. I continue to hear the same kinds of messages from those who were in the last several wars as I did from Vietnam Vets. Nothing has changed except the countries upon which war has been perpetrated and the faces of victims (everyone is a victim in war). What have people done to deserve war?
Peace..can it ever exist?