Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What in God's name are we doing at war?

Yesterday, 12/29/09, I visited the Old North Church in Boston. Outside they had a memorial to all the soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is made up of dog tags for each soldier. It was kind of spooky as they tinkled in the wind.

The two people in the picture above blocked the sign announcing the memorial gardern.

My brother sent me this video. It makes you wonder what in God's name we Amercians are up to. I think Capt. Tom will like it.


  1. Thank you David. This is a powerful statement.

    But I think there is more of an issue here. If these wars were just about the "rich elites exploiting the rest of us," I think that many of us, including UU's, would recognize the exploitation for what it is and stand up to put an end to it.

    In addition to the injustices the young man speaks of, I think that our identity as Americans is so interwoven with militarism that we cannot conceive of a United States that is not a great military power that uses its might to enforce our own (often parochial) concept of justice on the rest of humanity. That, coupled with fear of an unknown other, is the foundation of what I think is our addiction to militarism - one that Chris Hedges speaks of in his book, "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning."

    I have been reading the writings of Father Thomas Merton this holiday season (a gift from my wife at Christmas). I came across this quotation from one of his articles in "Commonwheal" in 1962:

    "It is vitally necessary that we form our conscience in regard to our participation in the effort that threatens to lead to universal destruction. We have to be convinced that there are certain things already clearly forbidden to all men, such as the use of torture, the killing of hostages, genocide (or the mass extermination of racial, national, or other groups for no reason other than that they belong to an "undesirable" category). The destruction of civilian centers by nuclear annihilation bombing is genocide. We have to become aware of the poisonous effect of the mass media that keep violence, cruelty and sadism in the minds of uninformed and irresponsible people. We have to recognize the danger to the whole world in the fact that today the economic life of the more highly developed nations is centered largely on the production of weapons, missiles, and other engines of destruction. We have to consider that the hate propaganda, and the consistent nagging and baiting of one government by another, has always inevitably lead to violent conflict. We have to recognize the implications of voting for politicians who promote policies of hate.

    "These are activities which, in view of their probable consequences, are so dangerous and absurd as to be morally intolerable. If we cooperate in these activities we share in the guilt they incur before God. It is no longer reasonable or right to leave all decisions to a largely anonymous power elite that is driving us all, in our passivity, toward ruin. We have to make ourselves heard. Christians have a grave responsibility to protest clearly and forcibly against trends that lead inevitably to crimes which the Church deplores and condemns. Ambiguity, hesitation, and compromise are no longer permissible. War must be abolished. A world government must be established. We have still time to do something about it, but the time is rapidly running out."

    While Merton was writing as a Catholic priest during and about the Cold War, his words have relevance today. I think he calls on all people of religious conviction to call for an end to war.

    Tom Beall

  2. Capt. Tom wrote: "our identity as Americans is so interwoven with militarism that we cannot conceive of a United States that is not a great military power that uses its might to enforce our own (often parochial) concept of justice on the rest of humanity."

    IMO, you could not be more wrong. Perhaps your identity is wrapped up in American militarism but mine most certainly is not. Abusive military enterprises, corporate imperialism and racial/ethnic intolerance, most often backed by religion, is the source of most of the misery and strife in the world today. Religion mostly is what's wrong with the world. Imagine, if you must, a god in favor of ethnic cleansing, child rape by clergy, HIV/AIDs pandemic (due to forbidden condoms), food/water/health/education disparity due to economic status--hard to imagine, for me, any god who would tolerate these things.

  3. Being 64 I have been part of the anti-war movement my whole life. I was draftable being 20 at the end of 65, but I was first in the seminary, then got married, then had kids so I escaped. But hundreds of thousands of my peers didn't and 58,000 died and now it comes out by historians that the Viet Nam war was bogus, had no basis in fact, and was a trumped up blunder of American capitalism gone awry.

    I was hoping that we as a country had learned our lesson, but no now we have another generation engaged in the same nonsense in Iraq and Afghanistan for just as bogus reasons.

    President Eisenhower warned us as he left office about the dangers of a permanent military and the "military-industrial complex."

    What drives the whole American war machine is capitalism and profit. There is money in it. The largest exported product now from the United States is military weapons. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves, but instead are oblivious and quite complacent.

    War is about money and power. Always has been and will continue to be until enough consciousnesses are raised and we say Enough! we are killing ourselves and our planet.

    I thought maybe Obama had some moral fiber to be a true leader, but he is young and has been bought off by the special interests. It will take a few more generations before we achieve the changes we are looking for if we don't kill ourselves in the meantime.

    Happy New Year!

    David Markham

  4. Well I like it. Insert the word "demonization" where it says "racism" and much of it applies very well to our little "War of the U*U World" and a whole lot of other wars, be they wars of words or real wars where racism cannot be used to motivate troops. In fact the first part of the video makes it abundantly clear that words are more powerful weapons than guns, and tanks, attack helicopters, and even battleships, to say nothing of the U*U Jihad Navy's top secret Stealth U*U-Boats. . . :-) which is *one* of the points that I am trying to make with most of my U*U Jihad blog posts. . . What in God's name *are* U*Us doing at war with little old me anyway? Why do the UUA and Unitarian Church of Montreal, and various other cowardly U*Us, seem intent on continuing "The War of the U*U World" into the second decade of the "Third Millennium" when they have been given numerous opportunities to responsibly wage peace with me in accordance with U*U principles and ideals in the past? Even within the last several months. . .

  5. Well, I hope we're winning the war. Please add dog tags of new colleagues of mine who died at Fort Hood. It's right here in the US very fine people are dying.