At the tail end of the Memorial Day weekend, a word about war

Posted May 28th, 2007 in Blog Comments Off on At the tail end of the Memorial Day weekend, a word about war

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

On this Memorial Day Monday, the New York Times front page was unusually moving, angering, powerful. First was the image, a photograph that moved me to tears. It could be an icon to the insanity and cruelty of this war and those who got us into — people, remember, who refused military service or avoided the draft back when they were young. Put your cursor over the photo to read the story that goes with itMary McHugh visited the grave of her fiancé, Sgt. James J. Regan, who was killed in Iraq in February. He is buried in the new Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. John Moore/Getty Images NY Times 5/27/07 .

Just above the photo was this article about the disillusionment of US soldiers in Iraq who are finding themselves under attack by some of the very Iraqi soldiers they have been training. They now say that they don’t know why they are there anymore.

This has to stop. Why I mention this on a blog dedicated to Ecological Hope is this: war will destroy that hope. As our Earth moves into a period of prolonged scarcity in energy and things as basic as water and land for food production, it is very likely that conflict over depleting resources will increase. What role will the US play in such a world?

Right now, the Pentagon is setting up a new Africa Command, which many are describing as the US’s next step in “militarizing our foreign policy.” You can read about it in the Washington Post article linked here. Not nearly enough of us are aware of the extent of the US global reach — more than 730 bases or forward operating locations around the world.

It just gets worse and worse, this belief of the powers behind the Bush administration that we can use military force and threat to keep the world’s ‘assets’ for ourselves. Anyone who thinks we would be involved in this tragic and debilitating debacle in Iraq if the region did not hold huge oil reserves is still living is some fantasy land.

If there is one thing our ecological crises should be teaching us, it is that selfish nationalism, greed, and war for resources will lay waste to more and more of our world, and lay waste to our humanity as well.

So among all the other things we write about at this site, we write this — ecological hope depends on the end of war. If we can’t stop it now, imagine what it will be like when peoples and nations become more desperate. The temptation to use military power, for those who have it, will be very powerful.

So, as I started writing this, a poem came to mind, one that I first heard read at the end of the antiwar film, Regeneration, based on the novel by Pat Barker. It is the story of Siegfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen, both of whom were soldiers in World War I. Owen, one of the greatest English language war poets, was killed in action in 1918 at age 25.

As this Memorial Day weekend comes to an end, I want to share this poem with you. It is my way saying — no more of this. No more. We cannot afford the sacrifice of so many more courageous young men and women. We cannot afford the hatred and rage this war is fueling around the world, which means that even more young men and women will end up dead by war.

We must take the knife from the hand of this old man.

Parable of the Old Men and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

[tags] Memorial Day, stop war, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, US Africa Command[/tags]

Photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images — Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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