I’ve always been in touch with my inner child, which has allowed me to seriously consider questions often considered childish. “Daddy, why is there war? Why can’t they play hopscotch or handball instead?” In a world full of violence it seems like a pacifist’s view is completely out of touch, but then again, the warmongers have had their way for millennium and the problems of the world have gotten worse and worse.
This question seems particularly relevant at the moment, having recently “finished” the war in Iraq that the vast majority of Americans feel was not worth the nine years of fighting. I want to make it clear that I have nothing against our soldiers. In fact I believe that I care for them more than many politicians who find it possible to put them in harm’s way. There are elected officials in Washington who have done their military service, some heroically in battle, but do you know how many have children in active service? You can count them on one hand. Do you think congressmen and senators would think differently if they were sending their own children off to war?
Some respond that no one forces anyone to join the military, but the fact is that the majority of service men and women come from poorer families and grow up with fewer options when it comes to going to college or getting a job. So let’s not act like it’s just free will that drives people to take on a job to kill or be killed.
Then there is the fact that we have military bases all over the world. Though I’m not a Ron Paul supporter, his campaign created a brilliant little web video on the subject. (Watch it at: http://youtube/tMSHDOiTmaw. The video asks us to imagine “that some somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base.” This sounds like one of those childish questions, but the real question is whether we are able to put ourselves into the shoes of both our allies and enemies. Can we imagine what they feel like surrounded by foreign armed forces?
We would not even consider the possibility of having a Chinese or Russian military base on our soil. We would feel invaded and controlled, leading to feelings of anger and hostility. We wouldn’t stand for it, but we don’t question our actions abroad. We say we’re “keeping people safe” or “fighting for democracy” or the more transparent reason of “protecting our interests.” That leads me to ask whether we can seriously ask the childish question, “Whose interests are we protecting?”
I don’t know if pacifism is a plausible reaction to every conflict. It brings up the big question about how would Gandhi and his like have fared against Hitler and his forces? I don’t know, but I do know that millions of people died in World War II. There is not enough space here to consider these questions in depth, but at least we can ask some questions and get the mind ticking, wondering, questioning. What are the answers? I don’t know. What do you think?
Greg Acuna can be reached at Greg@RevolutionAmericanStyle.com. His novel “Revolution American Style” is available at www.RevolutionAmericanStyle.com or on Amazon.com.