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This is in response to this post featured on the Freshly Pressed, called “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.

Every time I see one of these photos, the same question arises: why is the child bleeding?

Did the child fall victim to carnivorous tigers and a courageous US soldier just happened to be there to rescue the victim from the jaws of death? Or was the child playing peacefully when a US guided missile crashed through her front door, blasting the rest of the family and leaving the orphan to fend for herself? No, that couldn’t be it. I know: The Taliban were attacking peaceful civilians and the child was caught in the crossfire, and a US marine, fully decked out in gear and wielding a plowshare , was stationed there to oversee the peacemaking process, and is courageously taking the child to no-man’s land. Except that he’s not feeling very courageous at all. He may be feeling guilty, profoundly guilty, because they targeted the wrong straw hut, and the villainous clan elders are getting away while the innocent family members who were unfortunate enough to live in the wrong hut wail in grief….

But here is the catch: what if the child was in the “right” hut, and the villainous clan leader happened to be her father? And now she doesn’t have one. Or, what is the child is the villainous clan leader, a child of 12 or 15, fighting to protect his family, to protect the interests of his people? What does the soldier feel now? Fear? Confusion? Worry? Tremendous stress?…

And when you’ve been crawling on your belly for the last 3 days and there’s mold growing in your hair and grime under your fingernails and not a soul for miles around except one of the enemy, somewhere, lurking, or rather, another human being who is also scared and exhausted and also has children waiting at home and praying and hoping that this will be over some day and his children will have a brighter future, but now it’s time to find and shoot you because if he doesn’t, you’ll find HIM and shoot him first, at least that’s what his superiors have been telling him, and your superiors telling YOU, you realize that war is about KILLING PEOPLE and you don’t want to kill anyone, really, and you never did, you may realize that this isn’t what you signed up for….you just wanted to protect your country…

This is war.

According to the first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, war is “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations”. Usually, arms are used to disable (damage, hurt, destroy) property, weapons, and, most importantly, the people controlling them. Let’s not allow ourselves to forget this. Sure, the media, the US Army, branches of the government, and everyone else who is a stake-holder in the business of war wants us to think otherwise. It’s about courage, heroism, about good guys vs. bad guys, and of course, the lines between the two are age-old and set in stone!!!… Except here of course I am reverting back to sarcasm, which is just a more urbane expression of rage.

Tony Benn said: “All war represents a failure of diplomacy”. We teach our kids to share, we tell them not to hit back, to “use your words, honey”, but when talking doesn’t get us, adults, our way, we turn to violence. But how many millennia have to pass before we realize that violence only begets violence, war cannot bring us peace, and if we live by the sword, well…

I don’t believe in making sacrifice of human life. I don’t believe that evil is necessary. Sorry.

And I know, I know. How dare I speak against the military and still enjoy all of the benefits that a powerful military brings to this nation? How hypocritical of me….

But first of all, I am speaking against war. And second, I am speaking in YOUR defense. You don’t actually have to go and fight. You don’t have to die or live with the guilt and nightmares haunting you for the rest of your life.

Recently on NPR I heard a staggering statistic: more veterans commit suicide upon returning home than perish in combat. You don’t need this . And the tragic thing is, we don’t need it either. According to a Forbes magazine article, the happiest nation in the world is Denmark. I wonder how big their army is…Second in place is Finland. The US does not make the top ten. So the correlation between the wellbeing of the people, and the size of the stick you carry is, at best, questionable.

So how about those swords? Let us beat them into plowshares.

Or at least, let’s be honest about war.

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