My dialogue with a warrior.

Several days ago, I received an email from a former miltary man who supports our government’s intentions to go to war. I’m assuming that he sent out a blanket email to everyone he found on the internet who participated in yesterday’s Anti-War Virtual March. I don’t think he got many responses, but he did get one from me. And then the dialogue began.
His statements to me were polite, sincere, and well-articulated. The bottom line, though, is that we disagree, and we especially disagree about the necessity to question authority.
His most recent email, which linked to an article about teachers in Maine upsetting children of military personnel who might be soon shipped out to Iraq, also included this:
As my son prepares to go to war in the national guard as a helicopter pilot, I read your prose and remember the invective that spewed forth from the mouths of protesters during Viet Nam. Those protesters that ran to Canada, exercised their deferments in college or wrangled other ways to beat the draft. While the common soldier took the brunt of their abuse on their backs, truly innocent of all charges, most doing only what they were told as their responsibility as a citizen.
As I stood before the memorials near the reflection pools in Washington DC, I remembered my fallen comrades. I walked among the field of white headstones of the many who are memorialized in Arlington, I learned to appreciate the magnitude of their sacrifice. I laid in the bunker ducking the bullets and rockets overhead, I longed for the warmth and comfort of the bosom of my family. Today I send my son to war, I pray for his safe return, I remember all those who went before, I gladly walk by his side with pride, I do not relish, celebrate, or desire war, But I realize that there are times when it is necessary to right the wrongs and protect those that can not do it themselves.

This is how I responded:
We need to teach kids to hate war but not the warriors. I think that anyone who is not sensitive to the fear of a child about losing a parent to war needs immediate instruction on how to be a compassionate human being.
My belief is that the last few times, we have not gone to war to protect the innocents; we have gone to war to protect oil and other political and greed motivated interests. And this time we are going to war for the same kinds of reasons. The best way to convert other countries to democracy is to model the kind of free, open, peaceful, and democratic government that we want them to emulate. (And we are falling farther and farther away from that ideal under our current political leadership.) Physical force is never an effective way to convince anyone of anything. Children learn by watching what we do, not what we say. The world is watching us.
To defend one’s family, one’s city, one’s country is noble. But that’s not what we’re asking our soldiers to do. We are asking them to invade and destroy someone else’s country. We are asking them to massacre (collateral) innocents We are making our sons and daughters victims of the greed and manipulations of this country’s immoral leaders. Again.
It takes courage to fight and die for what you believe in. It also takes courage to live and speak out according to one’s pacifist beliefs.
It has been said that you can’t have Good without Evil.
Peace and War. Life and Death. Perhaps dualities are unavoidable in the eternal human struggle. But it seems to me that it is always better to come down on the side of Life/Peace, rather than Death/War.

6 thoughts on “My dialogue with a warrior.

  1. Your appeal to life and peace are the same made for war. I too have spent a lifetime as a warrior. Life and peace are the very reasons we go to war. Your misguided reference to wars fought by this nation for oil are short sighted and show a lack of understanding of global economics and the struggle for life and peace. Oil is the engine that brings you life, freedom and peace. The control of this vital commodity is well worth the cost in lives and money spent. Every aspect of your life that you enjoy and have come to expect is a result of cheap middle east oil. No not oil turned into gasoline for American cars. That

  2. Whoa! You scare me, dude. If your world view isn’t the demon side of capitalism I don’t know what is. I believe that we humans are capable of building a better, more equitable, and more human system that that. So, if you don’t mind, while you continue warring for resources, I’ll keep voicing my druthers.

  3. Hear, hear, Elaine. Oil is the engine that brings me life, freedom and peace? Please. An economy is simply the trading of goods and services amongst peoples, and is a means to an end, but not THAT end. Those ends come from within ourselves, and nowhere else. You can’t fight a war on a noun such as terrorism, nor for a noun like peace. Wars are fought for control, like rape is about power, not sex. It has always been this way, even in wars of revenge.
    But please, Reed Estrada, continue to engage in discussion. As long as nobody gets heated up to the point of violent anger, intelligent discussion can do nothing but good.

  4. Oil is not the mottor of this economy, and certainly there are multitude of much more sustainable methods to achieve all that is being produced with oil these days.
    The point is that this war lacks *any* justification, we consider our current president untrustworthy and dangerous, we are alienating our international allies and isolating the USA, all in the name of a war against demons and evils that are impossible to prove.
    Meanwhile, that same president is detroying the very democratic roots of this country, stifling free speech, silencing opposition and manipulating the media.
    I am not condemning the military, but as Elaine points out, even the military need courage to denounce this death march in which we all are immersed.

  5. Your correspondent blindly follows Bush then says “Those protesters that ran to Canada, exercised their deferments in college or wrangled other ways to beat the draft.”……….um……isn’t that a perfect desctription of Bush and his cohorts (Powell excepted) military service?
    BTW for Reed Estrada – the vast majority of US oil imports comes from Canada first, then Venezuela. Very little oil from the middle east is imported into the US.
    Personally thouhg I think we here in Canada should nationalize our oil industry (which is something like 90% owned by US oil companies) and join OPEC 🙂 in retaliation for the insane 27% import duty imposed on our softwood lumber (see http://www.thealders.net/blogs/archive/000912.html#000912 if you want to know more about this problem between our two countries.)

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