When I woke up this morning, I was planning to write about the beautiful evening I had last night, listening to Canada geese flying under the Milky Way and across the Big Dipper, as it lay cradled in the trees at the end of my drive. A friend and I had been talking about the wild horses of Assateague Island, off the coast of Virginia and Maryland, when I stepped outside and looked up in astonishment. No other word for it. Pure astonishment.
Yes, that was my intent, but then the Writer's Almanac delivered a poem by George Bilgere, whose poetry never fails to speak to me on some deeper level, and my subject had to change. Please understand, I'm trying to not be angry. Anger is such a wasted emotion, but right now it's hard to see that. How are we going to wrest control of our lives? And I say 'our' because that's the only way to see it. How are we going to take our lives out of the hands of the warmongers, the Masters of War, as Bob Dylan so aptly sang of them, and get them to wake up out of the deadly sleep into which they have fallen? Are they never going to tire of their war games? We are not talking about little packages of green plastic soldiers that can be brought out of a drawer the day after Christmas to be played with at will. When do they realize that they are dealing with real people and real lives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers?
Now, "soldiers" sit in control rooms with their fingers on remotes and detonate bombs as though playing a war game on a computer. Cognitive dissonance doesn't begin to describe the bizarre direction these bloodthirsty bastards have taken. It's vampirism. No, it is. Remote vampirism. And there won't be any new memorials, because we're too busy killing to erect any new ones. Where would we begin? And how do you erect a memorial to the hundreds of thousands dead at our hands in countries buried beneath rubble? We've literally destroyed the cradle of civilization. How's that as a metaphor for our times?
I'm sick to my stomach.
"At the Vietnam Memorial"
The last time I saw the name Paul Castle
it was printed in gold on the wall
above the showers in the boys'
locker room, next to the school
record for the mile. I don't recall
his time, but the year was 1968
and I can look across the infield
of memory to see him on the track,
legs flashing, body bending slightly
beyond the pack of runners at his back.
He couldn't spare a word for me,
two years younger, junior varsity,
and hardly worth the waste of breath.
He owned the hallways, a cool blonde
at his side, and aimed his interests
further down the line than we could guess.
Now, reading the name again,
I see us standing in the showers,
naked kids beneath his larger,
comprehensive force—the ones who trail
obscurely, in the wake of the swift,
like my shadow on this gleaming wall.
~ George Bilgere
I was hoping Iris DeMent's song would become a part of our history, but that's not to be....
I loved the Iris DeMent song because, against all odds, were the big door prize!!ReplyDelete
Iris is so cool.Delete
Sometimes life just catches up and reminds us of one or another reality in a way that we cannot escape. The Wall did it for me. I could not stop crying. I don't know a single name on it (or I don't know that I know one, if you catch my drift), but I felt the losses that day as never before. Seeing the images in the video brings it all back. I want to say let's never do that again, but how do we stop it?ReplyDelete
I haven't yet visited it. A friend and I were recently talking about the powerful impact it has. He fell to his knees. I'm pretty certain, I would just fold....Delete
I do not like feeling so helpless in the face of so much death and destruction....
I wish there were an answer Teresa, or could point to a time in the future when it will be different. There are still good people, very good people, but so much of the time the evil ones are in control.ReplyDelete
I try to always see the good, and most of the time I can, but lately the craziness has been encroaching on my peace of mind more and more...Delete
Teresa -- War is a deep issue on all fronts. Been around since ancient history. Seems related to territory and scarcity. No matter the mode of killing, war is war. A tragic product of humanity. -- barbaraReplyDelete
It's all about possessions, power and territory.Delete
I am so deflated by the turn of events in Israel. It sickens me how that little country controls so much....
Peace at my house, in my neighborhood, in my town, in my state. My best effort, myself.ReplyDelete
Otherwise, I'm powerless over everything.
Yes, it does start with peaceful thought and grows, hopefully, from that standpoint, but it's a struggle.Delete
And now it is happening again. Last night and today, as I watched the Middle East begin to devolve, I ranged between fury and despair.ReplyDelete
And it isn't just one group. While the Israelis demand the right to exist and the Palestinians demand a homeland, fundamentalist forces in Egypt call for the destruction of the Sphinx and the Pyramids. Here, the election has only made the name-calling worse - verbal sticks and stones that kill the spirit. I find myself withdrawing at times, unwilling to read one more nasty word.
I'm very much allied with Linda, above - I've been thinking of that sweet, unsophisticated song that was so much a part of my youth. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. If I am peaceful, and allow you to be peaceful, perhaps we can bring peace to yet another - and so it will go.
It seems the only hope lies in the individual, but I want so much to see some glimmer of hope on the horizon and all I see are death and destruction...far as the eye can see.... I need to look inward.Delete
I just found this Playing for Change selection on another blog - it speaks to the issue, to say the least.ReplyDelete
We Don't Need No More Trouble
I had forgotten about PFC. I used to follow it on FB, back when I was on there. Thanks for the reminder.Delete
It seems really weird to me that some folks think choosing peace within themselves is the best solution. To me they may as well have their heads stuck in mud. The complacency of most Americans is appalling to me. Having peace within is great....but in this instance so is having a loud voice. IMO...These wars SHOULD be making people angry! As long as we keep giving the power (our money)to privatized corporations making fortunes on war...there will just be more war. I've looked up these corporations and have stopped buying anything these corporations own...one such company funds war and sells us lively Dr. Pepper and 7Up at the same time! And that's just one of the many companies they own. There are many corporations heavily invested in war...the information is out there. Get mad people....hit 'em in the pocket! And that's just for starters. There's so much more we can do. It needs to done on a great scale.ReplyDelete
Good to see you again, Karen. I appreciate your response and the stance you've taken. Action is needed.Delete
You have said it right.ReplyDelete
We've literally destroyed the cradle of civilization.......
And day by day its worsening.
I'm so glad you've read and commented. Thank you very much, Joe.Delete
Dear Teresa, I know little about war. Always I've read about it in books, magazines, and newspapers. Or heard reports of it on the radio during World War II or seen images of it on television during the Vietnam War or watched John Wayne lead the charge on Iwo Jima in a movie filmed on a back lot in Hollywood.ReplyDelete
And so when I see the streak of a rocket on the Nightly News Hour on PBS, I find myself numb. What is there to say? To do? To change the hearts of humankind?
My naive response is to shout that we have for millennium studied war--its tactics, weaponry, strategies, causalities, generals, statistics of those who died in battles and those who came home wounded in body and spirit.
And I say "Why? Why can't we study peace? If we have a Department of War, why can't we have a department of Peace?" And I know that is naive but why not try to sit down and discuss what a peace-filled world would look like? How would people act? How much money would we pour into pursuing peace rather than preparing ourselves for war? What would the dissolution of hatred and the thirst for power and property look like? Feel like?
So I have no answers and no experience to bring to the table. I can offer no homeland to the Palestinians. No peaceful homeland for the Israelis. I have no magic marker that can create boundaries that include all the members of a tribe or clan.
Nor do I have the knowledge or surety to help humans beyond the security of tribe or clan or family into the wholeness of being One with all. And ultimately that is the answer. Peace.
I am deeply grateful for your thoughtful response. I, too, long for the day when we are actively seeking peace. Colman McCarthy has created and directs The Center for Teaching Peace in D.C. and I continually hope that those who are involved in this center, and others similar to it, help to forge a new way of looking at life, a new way of Being in this world. I cannot do anything less than hope, at this point.Delete
Being One with all is the only answer and always has been.
Thank you so much.
Dear Teresa, I don't know how I signed on as "anonymous" today! Must be a poltergeist in the house. I'm glad to learn about that center created by Colman McCarthy. I'll read up on it. Peace.Delete
I knew it was you, Dee. :)Delete
I too find myself filled with sadness, despair,and helplessness over humankind's vampirism. As a Quaker, I am opposed to war and violence and wonder how anyone can actually support it, especially when it has always failed. Wars that appear "successful" always breed more wars (e.g., WWI and WWII). Somewhere we need to end this cycle and actually talk to and try to understand the "other."ReplyDelete
I understand Karen's confusion over those who seek peace within themselves. However, it is not an either or proposition. In talking to Fr. John Dear, a peace activist who has been arrested over 80 times trying to prevent war, he told me that in order to survive to continue to protest war and violence, one must FIRST become aware of the violence within and to cultivate peace within oneself. Then you are in a position to confront those who make war. After talking to him, I bought myself a bracelet as a remember that "Peace starts within."
As far as Anonymous' remark about needing a Department of Peace, there is actually a U.S. Institute of Peace. I blogged about it at http://renaissancegardenblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-are-we-in-this-handbasket.html. However, since it has been around since 1984, it appears to have accomplished nothing.
I'm even more saddened by the way Americans seem to forget that we're involved in a war and , when we're not appearing indifferent to the conflicts in other parts of the world, we're busy cheering for our chosen "team," rather than exploring the issues in depth or feeling compassion for those in the middle of it all.
All I can do is continue to speak up, write representatives, support organizations such as AFSC and FCNL, boycott warmongers, and hope that my prayers are answered. War is not the answer.
Cherie, Thank you so much for this powerful and meaningful response. You've brought up some extremely important issues that are often laid aside in order for people to continue their lives uninterrupted by the truth. The truth is uncomfortable, but so are lies, once we start truly feeling the difference.Delete
And the Vietnamese feel just as heartbroken over their dead...as the Germans do...and the Japanese...and the Russians...and the Koreans...and the list goes on and on and on and on......back to Cain and Able, I suppose. It breaks my heart that, as a species, we are so ignorant and vicious. We proclaim our self-righteous justifications while we war and slay and destroy. Some faction of humanity has always done this...whether in the name of right living, or a church, or a corporation, or land greed. Selfishness, ego, fear, and lack reign in war.ReplyDelete
Makes me soul weary.
Yes, it is a very long list. No one has been left out. "Soul weary," is a very good description of how I also feel. Thank you, Rita. I love your heart.Delete