Working towards peace and sustainability

Memorial Day, War and Peace.

Strike up the marching band. It’s time to celebrate the sacrifice made by those who’ve gone off to war and especially to honor the memory of those who did not return alive.

But wait. Are an air show and a parade the best way to honor the memory of those who died in war? Does the glorification of deadly weapons and a recruitment-fest, featuring booths from every branch of the military and the various Missouri National Guard divisions, really do anything to memorialize the tragic loss that so many have experienced? Or, are we not setting up a new cohort of young people to face similar nightmares?

The U.S. economy has been on a permanent wartime footing for more than 75 years now, since the buildup for World War II. And our nation’s military has been engaged in hot wars continuously since October 2001, nearly 15 years. Isn’t it time to question the logic of war without end? With no disrespect intended, isn’t it time to ask if the wars our young men and women are being sent off to fight in are actually in our national interest? And could the trillions of dollars being spent on the wars not be better spent by investing in people and sustainable infrastructure.

Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and other countries in the region have nothing to do with defending the United States. In fact, we are making more enemies than we’re eliminating and destabilizing countries, fueling death, destruction and dislocation, with millions of people being displaced from their homes.

Why, pray tell, should we be honoring people, as well intentioned as they might be, for joining in this destructive war-making? While we know that those who volunteer to serve believe they are doing so to keep our country safe, we need to question the logic that fuels perpetual war, at great cost to all concerned. Of course, we can honor their good intentions, but we should not conflate support for them as people with support for the wars they are ordered to participate in.

We do need to make it clear that our beef is not with the foot-soldiers, who are really just pawns in the process, but rather with those who plan the wars and give the orders to go overseas to fight, kill, maim, or be injured or killed.

As our friends in Veterans for Peace are known to say, “War is obsolete and it is time to abolish it.” Moreover, as they also point out, “Peace honors veterans.” Put another way, war has no winners, only losers. Until we come to understand this, we will, as a nation, continue to make the tragic mistake of thinking that violence can solve problems. It doesn’t.

All are invited to join Vets for Peace and the broader peace community at the Gordon Shelter, Stephens Lake Park on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. There will be a potluck picnic at 12:30 p.m. and a program with speakers, music and a peacemaker award beginning at 1:30.