So, I had a really bad dream last night. I saw someone die a sudden, brutal, and violent death. And I’ve seen enough of that in real life; I certainly don’t need to see it in my dreams, too. Unfortunately, many people will die sudden, brutal, and violent deaths today. It bothers me that so many of these deaths are preventable (e.g., accidents), but what really bothers me—no, angers me—is that so many of these people will die at the hands of people whose sole intention is to kill them.
I guess this is a personal issue with me, because many people don’t seem to be bothered by this at all. Perhaps I’m too sensitive?
The town I’m presently living in has a large Army supply depot located just outside the town’s limits, and a lot of people who live in this town work there. In fact, the depot is (I think) the largest employer in town. And it’s been very busy lately . . . ever since the wars began. Before then it was almost (literally) closed down. I imagine that if the wars ever ended virtually everyone who works there would be out of work. And there’s not that many places in this town for someone to find work, other than the depot, especially these days.
I suppose this is the real issue we face in trying to end these wars: too many Americans currently depend on them for their livelihood. I imagine that if I were ever to protest, locally, the wars, and this (local) depot’s involvement in them, I would quickly become the most reviled person in town. I don’t protest the wars locally, or the depot’s involvement in them, (because my immediate family fears retaliation if I do, and I believe that I should respect their desire not to be involved) and so life, here, goes merrily on, just as the locals here would have it to go on: with most of the townsfolk busily involved in the task of supplying and resupplying our service men and women who (as the locals put it) are “bravely and heroically fighting for our freedom, over there”.
Personally, I could never be involved with any aspect of the military-industrial complex, which former president Eisenhower warned us about. But many people seem to be quite okay with it. When I was younger I did serve in the military, but I certainly want no parts of it today.
Because I have spoken out against the wars, locally, in writing, I’ve been accused (by some of the locals) of being un-American, and, since I’m also a veteran, I’ve even been told that I am now “a disgrace to the uniform”.
There’s a guy, here in town, who has a pick-up truck with “America: Love It or Leave It!” painted on his truck’s tailgate. (I suppose every town in America has a guy with a truck like this though, right?) I first heard the expression “America: Love It or Leave It!” a very long time ago, during America’s long war in Vietnam. I was too young to go to Vietnam; the war was over by the time that I had enlisted (1976), on my seventeenth birthday. I’ve had many friends and acquaintances who served in Vietnam, some of whom enjoyed their time over there (some a bit too much), many who did not enjoy their time over there, and many who were simply glad that the war had finally ended and that they had managed to make it back home, alive.
One of my friends, who served in the Marine Corps, had come back from Vietnam with a heroin addiction, which he was still dealing with (via Methadone) some thirty years after the war was over. He also had a serious drinking problem. He told me, once, that he’d been okay, mentally, until he had been ordered to shell a Vietnamese village which (he and everyone else knew) housed only innocent civilians. He (they) did, and he was still suffering the consequences of it some thirty years after the war had ended.
At least the dead are at peace.
I’ve been fortunate in that I have never been responsible for anyone’s death. And for that I thank God, for his grace and for his mercy. As I said, I’ve seen many people die a sudden, brutal, and violent death. Only one occurred while I was in the military; all of the others I saw on the highways of America. I drove a truck for twenty years and, as you can imagine, you see a lot of death and a lot of destruction when you travel the highways for many, many years. I actually had to quit driving, because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time and there was one particular mile-long stretch of Interstate 30, during a period of one week, on which five people died (suddenly, brutally and violently), including a woman and her young child, who ended up beneath a tractor-trailer after hitting it head-on. I’ll tell you what . . . after all that I’d already seen during all of those years of driving (especially, by this time, this woman and her young child, underneath that truck), it wasn’t long after that one particularly gruesome week in Little Rock that I decided to give up driving (every day, and for a living) for good.
I simply couldn’t take it any longer.
It always seems like a sacred moment to me, whenever I see someone die an especially sudden, brutal, and violent death . . . like a sacred moment in time. Whatever it was that had led to these deaths (in my case, these were all accidental deaths) seemed very incidental to me. The deadly moment seemed, to me, very mysterious; holy, somehow. What chain of events had led to this particular and deadly moment for this person? What could someone have possibly done in order to have avoided this deadly moment? Anything? Was it, in some mysterious way, beyond anyone’s control? To me, it certainly seemed so. Or was there something (anything) that someone could have done in order to have prevented the tragedy? I know that I’ve prayed many prayers—hundreds—for the loved ones that I knew would soon hear those terrible words: that their daughter, their son, their wife, their husband, their mother, or their father had died.
I leave those mysteries, regarding the moments and incidences of people’s deaths, to God; who certainly knows much better than do I why they occurred when they occurred. Accidents are one thing, but the intentional brutal and violent destruction of a human life is something altogether different. Intentional acts of this sort enter the realm of moral evil. Not that I’m a pacifist, because I’m not. I believe we have the right—the obligation—to defend ourselves and innocents from evildoers who seek to do us (and them) bodily harm. But war, for instance, must be justified along these same lines: as a defense against those who would do us harm. War is the worst of evils, and the very last of resorts. The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, do not meet this (just war) criteria. The US is in fact the invader—the evildoer—in both of these instances.
I can’t imagine being responsible—whether directly or indirectly—for the brutal and violent destruction of someone’s wife, husband, daughter, son, mother, or father. Yet how many of the people who are returning (or will return) from Iraq and Afghanistan, and how many of those people who work at supplying and resupplying our troops, will have the inescapable feeling that they have innocent blood on their hands which, except for the forgiveness that comes only through Christ, can never be removed? How many people, thirty years from now, will lament and brood over the day they followed an “order” to shred, into bloody pieces, innocent peoples in the name of “freedom”? How will they pay their debt to the dead?
I shudder to think about it.
But why is it that things are so out-of-wack in America anyway? Why is that that people in the US military, ever since World War II, have been “ordered” to kill innocent people in the name of “freedom”? What’s wrong with America? What’s wrong with the American people and our government?
Well, there’s a very easy—yet a very disturbing—answer to these questions. And the answer lies in the distant, although not too distant, past. In fact, it lies somewhere within the very first memories that I have as a human person: the assassination, in November 1963, of then US President John F. Kennedy.
Anyone who is old enough to remember 9/11, and the impact the events of that day had upon their memory, can certainly imagine the impact the event of President Kennedy’s assassination must have had upon those who can remember it—the event is indelibly etched upon the minds of those people who lived through that experience.
I was very young (almost four years old) when President Kennedy was assassinated, but I do remember it; like it was yesterday.
My first memory of that event is both powerful and unusual. I remember being on my dad’s shoulders, at night, waiting and watching for something; although I didn’t know what. In the midst of a small group, of perhaps twenty people, we stood beside a high fence, in the darkness and in silence, and we watched as a Navy (i.e., Marine Corps) helicopter was landing, and it seemed, to me, in the darkness, that fire was somehow coming from its engines. A battleship grey, US Navy Cadillac ambulance was waiting nearby the helicopter landing pad (at the Bethesda Naval Hospital) and, from my perch, high upon my dad’s shoulders, I watched as men silently rolled a hospital gurney (upon which lay a body, with a white sheet covering it) from the helicopter toward the open rear door of the ambulance. I remember people crying, sobbing, but I didn’t know why. Someone, probably my dad, told me that it was President Kennedy.
Until now (and I am now fifty years old) I never really understood the full meaning of that day, and of that event.
I have other, also very clear, memories of Kennedy’s assassination as well: being in Washington (on my dad’s shoulders again) amidst a sea of people, hoping to view President Kennedy’s body, which was lying in state in the rotunda of the Capitol building; the (very somber) funeral, with its rider-less horse and the “rider’s” empty boots placed backward in the stirrups, which was televised to the nation (in those days, on black and white TV) and which interrupted (to my four year old bewilderment) my regularly scheduled cartoons; visiting Arlington Cemetery and seeing the eternal flame at Kennedy’s gravesite, surrounded by four hats, each hat representing one branch of the four armed services.
Looking back on that event today—almost fifty years later—I think: “Yeah, that’s very ironic, isn’t it? The four branches of the armed services? Why not include hats representing the various branches of America’s secret intelligence agencies too? But I suppose they don’t have hats, do they?” Ironic, too, how militaristic the slain president’s state funeral was.
It seems that Kennedy, much to the consternation of the leaders of the armed services (namely, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the time) was far too much of a peacemaker (or, a peace seeker) for the hawks in the military and the secret intelligence services, especially since this was, at the time, the very height of the Cold War (e.g., after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis). The militaristic hawks thought that Kennedy should have chosen to dominate the (Soviet) enemy with overwhelming force (called today: Full Spectrum Dominance), via nuclear weapons. And for choosing not to do so (thereby saving the world, as we know it), and for choosing instead to pursue a course of peace, life, and humanity, President Kennedy was murdered, in Dallas—as a traitor—by the hawks within the US military and the US secret intelligence agencies.
The assassination of another peacemaker—the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—I have much clearer memories of, because I was, by then, much older (I was eight years old). I remember well King’s funeral, and the contrast between Kennedy’s rider-less horse (which I remembered, clearly) and King’s simple pine coffin, which was carried by a mule-drawn cart. Apparently, the same sorts of people (the militarist hawks) were involved with King’s murder too; as they were with the murder of Kennedy’s brother, Robert, another peace seeker, who was shot to death in Los Angeles, only a month after Dr. King had been gunned-down while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968.
It would seem that the militaristic hawks have a thing for guns, doesn’t it? As well as for gunning-down those leaders—true leaders— who dare to cross them; and who attempt to foil their bloody, warmongering agenda.
Well I, for one, have no respect for these militaristic hawks—whose legacies remain in power today. Nor will I ever be afraid to stick my neck out (or my head) in order to thwart their ungodly, murderous agenda and to take a stand for life, peace, and humanity. As I said before, I’m not a pacifist—I believe in self defense—but there has never been a good reason (i.e., a just reason) for Americans to have gone to war at anytime during the past fifty years; including (especially) the events of 9/11, which is the reason (excuse) that’s always given for the on-going carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan.
Question: Who do you think had the most to gain from the events of 9/11? The American people, perhaps? Or maybe the enlisted members of the US armed services? Or perhaps it was the Iraqi, Afghani, and Pakistani peoples? Perhaps—in reality—it was the militaristic hawks, at it again, beginning a new (21st century) era of fear and warmongering; those who occupy high-level positions within the US military and the various US secret intelligence agencies? (Not to mention certain civilian “leaders”, like former (chicken-hawk) Vice President Richard Cheney.) Perhaps they felt the need, as these militarist hawks so often do, to dominate “the enemy”; as opposed to pursuing a course of peace? Granted, it’s much easier, I suppose, to see “the enemy”—especially when your desire is to kill him—as an inanimate object, as opposed to seeing him as a fellow human being. But this militaristic approach doesn’t—in reality—remove from “the enemy” his humanity, does it?
Could it be? Could it be that all of those people, in the town that I now live in—all of those people who work at that Army depot—are actually supporting the same, insidious, murderous military-industrial militaristic hawk-complex that’s truly responsible for assassinating President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy? The same military-industrial militarist hawk-complex that’s responsible for killing thousands of people in Vietnam, thousands of people on 9/11, thousands of people in Afghanistan, thousands of people in Iraq, and who, today, are intent on killing millions more, via nuclear weapons, in a foolhardy attempt to initiate, in the Middle East, (in league with Israel against “our enemies” Iran and its allies: Russia and China) a new and third World War? And all the while, the best thing that the majority of the American people seem to be able to say is: “America: Love It or Leave It!”?
Please, say it ain’t so . . .
But I suppose these people do need their jobs; right? I know they have bills to pay, kids to feed, and (many) trips to Wal-Mart to make. I know they need to work; who doesn’t? But is being involved with killing people—people who have done us no harm whatsoever—the only (or even the best) job that we can do? Do we not have a conscience? A human conscience, which tells us when we are doing something wrong? Are we so brainwashed—yes: brainwashed—that we believe, unthinkingly, all of the lies that our government has told us concerning these wars and the events of 9/11?
For the love of God people . . . please, wake up!
I’m on my knees, begging you. Seek life, seek peace, and seek humanity.
You’re breaking my heart . . . and I really don’t have much of a heart left to break.