Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The meaning of Kent State for UUs

The last few days I have been thinking about how the National Guard killed 4 unarmed students and wounded 9 others at Kent State on May 4, 1970. The students were protesting the Viet Nam war and were especially upset because President Nixon had announced the bombing of Cambodia.

After 40 years it is very clear that the war in Viet Nam was based on lies, deceit, and was clearly immoral by just about anybody's standards. The students were the conscience of a nation protesting its criminal behavior and for this power silenced them and brought shame on itself.

Today, the same thing is going on with the interminable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the students are not protesting like they did in my generation. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the foremost reason is that there is not a draft like there was in 1970. 58,000 of my peers were killed in South East Asia while millions of South East Asians were killed.

The United States has gone terribly off course morally. The military industrial complex against which President Eisenhower warned us, has taken over the policy making apparatus of the United States government and the people have acquiesced. We have colluded with our government in its heinous immoral behavior. Some of us have protested in our anemic and polite ways. We have whined about it like children, but the carnage, subjugation, and oppression continues.

We voted for change with Obama becoming President and were deceived as more of the same has continued.

As Unitarian Universalists we believe in justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, but the wars continue, Guantanamo continues, torture still exists. It seems as UUs that we cannot do much. We are only 150,000 people in a nation of 310 million. But we do provide a small witness much as the students at Kent State.

As UUs we have a faith which values the interdependent web of all existence. We are a faith which has moved from egocentric and ethnocentric considerations to kosmocentric considerations. We may be the yeast in the dough, the salt of the earth. Can Unitarian Universalists join with other like minded people and lift up our spiritual understandings in a world dominated by greed, vengeance, and antipathy.

I pray that the vote at the GA this June is for the passage of the resolution that the Unitarian Universalist Association become a peace church. I hope that the deaths of the students at Kent State and the other casualties from Viet Nam and Iraq and Afghanistan have not been in vain but have lifted the consciousness and awareness of thoughtful people who can move beyond their own tribal loyalties. As John Lennon sang, Imagine.

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