Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Invisible War – A Veteran’s Day Reflection

While our society seems to go out of its way to honor those who serve, have served, or died while serving in the military, the facts speak otherwise.

It is one thing to add another patriotic song to sporting events, donate a computer to a soldier’s family, or feature a wounded warrior on a jumbo tron. It is quite another thing to recognize the devastating effect war has on soldiers and provide them with the resources they need to heal.

Suicide: “Be All That You Can Be – Then Kill Yourself.” A new study by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) reveals some stunning statistics – a service member commits suicide every 36 hours. For veterans, the rate is one every 80 minutes. By comparison, the worst month for American casualties in Iraq came during the Fallujah operation in November of 2004 when 137 were killed. The suicide rate for veterans in any given month is almost 4 times that – at 540!

Unemployment: “It’s Not A Job, It’s An Adventure – Trying To Find One.” The current unemployment rate for the general population in the U.S. is 9%, the highest it has been since 1983 and up from 6% in 2003. The unemployment rate for soldiers? A whopping 12% – which according to the same report above is one of the stressors that could lead to suicide.

Homelessness: “The Few, The Proud – The Homeless.” According to the VA, veterans make up one fifth of the homeless population. The VA also estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. In comparison, that is close to the current levels of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The above does not begin to describe the family stress and high divorce rates due to deployments, occurrences of PTSD, homicides, alcohol and drug use that are the battles that soldiers continue to fight every day. War is Hell and often the Hell doesn’t stay on the battlefield – it comes home to roost.

This country needs to face up to the fact that for many the war is never over – the enemy simply becomes intangible. And like the really tough adversaries of society, it can’t be killed by bullets. We need to do better to help heal the wounded, provide resources for their care, and end the glorification of war that destroys so many.

I am sure recruiters for the armed forces conveniently forget to mention any of the above to potential enlistees. Why should they?

The truth is always bad for the war business.

November 2011

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Not So Wicked Bible (or the Worship of Prince Baalberith)

A MIDWEEK ESSAY

In 1611, Barker and Lucas, the royal printers in London, published what was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. There was one major omission. In one of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:14 which should have read “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the not was omitted. The printed passage read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Needless to say the printers got into big trouble and most copies of the Bible were destroyed.

I find the story ironic in two ways. Based on current statistics, it seems that the mistaken commandment in the Wicked Bible is the one that is being followed. Polygamy is still being practiced, only now it is done so in secretive and illicit affairs. Pornography, sex trafficking, and prostitution continue to feed insatiable lusts. The Church continues to be so obsessed with sex that other principles are not emphasized with equal importance.

Which brings me to my second point. Would there have been as big an uproar if the printers had omitted not from verse 13 so that it would have read “Thou shalt kill?” I don’t know. But for all practical purposes in this day and age we act as though the “not” does not exist.

We continue to glorify killing through incessant media broadcasts of tragedy that feed our insatiable appetite for such. We justify killing through our continuous need to be engaged in one “Holy War” after another. The two are not unrelated. For when we approve of killing in any form we create an opening for that spirit to be present in our society. The murders and violent tragedies so prevalent among us are a direct result of our justification of killing through war and other “accepted” means. There are those among us who have more compassion for the unborn than for those birthed and living.

My friends, this must not be so. Thou shalt not kill. Period. We must close the portal that allows such things to invade our society. We must defeat the Red Horseman, Prince Baalberith, and his legions.

We can do so only through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Originally posted October 21, 2011

Posted in PEACE GROOVES

I Come To Work In Borrowed Clothes

wpid-wp-1440762573106.jpeg

I come to work in borrowed clothes
With face unshaven
Body washed, but not perfumed
Unadorned and entombed
In this angry earth and her grinding groans.

What is real becomes the stuff of dreams
Nightmare voices resurrected
Ears behind the three day stubble
Strain the silence from the rubble
Of a hundred hearts bursting at the seams.

Babel towers have crumbled down to dust
We are not gods
Just mere mortals armed with precious pride
Where love is lost is truth denied
My God, My God, why hast thou now forsaken us?

Were I to wrend these stranger clothes
Like some temple curtain
Grief would fit so unfamiliar
On feeble frames of we peculiar
Creatures, broken bodies lying naked and exposed.

We sit safe at table, you and I
Hear the smack
We arise from bread and wine and go to the window
To find a frozen finch robed in yellow
And see those fiery crosses crashing forever in our minds.

Crucify. Crucify. Crucify.
Lord, is it I?
Is it I?

Written on September 12, 2001

Posted in Musings and Reflections, Research, Resources

July 4th in Peace and Justice History

The following are a few of the peace and justice related historical events that have occurred on July 4:

1804 – Birth of Author Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote “Chiefly About War-Matters” detailing his opposition to the Civil War

Hawthorne

1827 – Slavery is abolished in NY

1845 – Pacifist Henry David Thoreau moves into his shack on Walden Pond where he will live for two years

thoreau

1845 – Philanthropist and Humanitarian Thomas John Barnardo, who helped create homes for 100,000 poor children, is born in Dublin

1852 – African-American Abolitionist Frederick Douglas gives his famous speech “The Meaning of July 4th to the Negro” (speech given on July 5)

douglas

1881 – African-American educational pioneer Booker T. Washington establishes Tuskegee Institute (Alabama)

Booker t Washington

1941 – Howard Florey & Norman Heatley meet for 1st time, 11 days later they successfully recreate penicillin

1941 – Vietnam Veteran and Peace Activist Brian Wilson is born

1946 – Birth of Ronald Lawrence Kovic, an American anti-war activist, veteran and writer who was paralyzed in the Vietnam War. He is best known as the author of the memoir Born on the Fourth of July.

born on july 4

1951 – The “Capital Times” in Madison, Wisconsin, reported that one of its reporters was turned down by 99 out of 100 people he asked to sign a petition made up of quotations from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Many said the petition was subversive.

1966 – US President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act, which makes government information more publicly available.

1969 – “Give Peace a Chance” by Plastic Ono Band is released in UK

Givechance

1972 – Lee Hu-rak, South Korean President Park Chung-hee’s top intelligence officer, helped broker a joint statement, the first major accord since 1953, in which the two Koreas agreed to work toward peacefully reunifying their divided peninsula.

1987 – Bill Graham took Santana, the Doobie Brothers and Bonny Rait to Moscow for an American-Soviet peace concert.

1993 – South African leaders F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela received the Liberty Medal in a ceremony outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

de klerk mandela

1997 – In Guatemala Pres. Alvaro Arzu fired 2 top military officials, after they had helped negotiate a peace treaty. They were known as moderates and the hard-liner Gen’l. Hector Barrios took over as the new defense chief.

1999 – A 2,000 pound tombstone for “Unknown Civilians Killed in Wars” departed from Sherborn, Mass., on a 450-mile trek to Arlington National Cemetery. It was impounded by police on August 6 for safekeeping pending approval by Congress. In the 20th century 62 million civilians died in wars as compared to 43 million military people.

uckiw

1999 – In Puerto Rico anti US Navy protests drew some 50,000 people.

2005 – In Austria, representatives from more than 100 countries gathered at the UN nuclear (IAEA) agency’s Vienna headquarters to consider strengthening international laws meant to safeguard nuclear materials from theft and prevent terrorist attacks on atomic power plants.

2012 – A Swedish ad team from Studio Total dropped hundreds of teddy bears carrying messages promoting human rights onto Belarus. teddy bears SOURCES: http://www.timelines.ws/days/07_04.HTML, Wikipedia, others

Posted in Longreads and Essays

Midweek Essays – I Magi Nation

The world I live in leaves nothing to the imagination. The aisles in stores are filled with every product imaginable.

My imagination is usurped. I am made to want them for they seem magical to me. There are all manner of these other outer unmagic boxes, large and small, of all shapes and sizes, flashing and streaming, sparking within, present now, but temporal, not the divine spark within.

Creativity is lost when a child does not learn the art of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For someone has placed the peanut butter and jelly together in a jar which seems to me the ultimate in laziness. My life is prepackaged, boxed up, prepared for my consumption.

The news leaves no secrets. Everything must be revealed even down to the smallest detail. The blow by blow of any given tragedy is expounded and expanded upon. The devil is in the details. We know something has happened but we don’t know exactly what has occurred. So we visit and revisit the scene of the crime and the yakking reporter until we know the full story and even then we don’t really know because the camera has moved on to the next possible bit of morbid excitement.

In our incessant search for the truth, we have lost the sacred realm of mystery. Perhaps some things are better left unknown and alone.

In my despair I believed that the magic had gone out of the world. Longing for dwarves and dragons, elves and wizards, princesses and fairy tales, wishing they really existed, or if so, why they had gone away and to where and whether I could follow.

I forgot the magic in me, in you, in the space around me, the world of the magi in me, my I Magi Nation.

For you see I wanted magic to be real because I believed it to be above all else the power to change things.

It is.

But not in the way I was thinking. To snap my fingers and make things right in the world, to heal it of its wounds and wounded. I sought to be great and forgot that I already am, not because I am recognized or known, because I am known.

I am great because I am, and I am a magi, not greater than you, for you, my friend, are a magi too.

And the unicorns and creatures of fantasy exist because they were birthed by the magic box which resides in all of us. Someone opened the door and the creatures came pouring out of a pen. A book took them to a million other magic boxes in the world, mine, yours, another child’s, and all of us believed.

Perhaps the box of circuitry and screen is our attempt to take the magic box inside our head and make it tangible, to reflect back the worlds that exist within, to make imagination real.

But it is a poor substitute for that treasure which we already possess, the land which was given to us at birth out of which all other lands come, filled with all of the creatures that ever existed and those still waiting to be birthed, a place with no boundaries where the wise reside;

I Magi Nation.

Originally posted August 2012

Posted in PEACE GROOVES

Staunton 87

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, I offer the following poem/reflection from a protest I attended when the KKK held a recruitment drive in Staunton, VA in 1987. 

like a porous sore in the face
oozing white in this place

hoarse cries of hate are swallowed up
by the silent strands of
we shall overcome

tension
a taunt wire
anger stretches somewhere deep within
all of us
waiting for the snap
when our brother’s neck will be squished
pulp in our grasp

struggle to understand
this hate robed in white
with eyes of glittering coal
to burn

the hand of brotherhood is slapped away
while spit runs down the face
turning away to rage in peace

old woman
white frozen mind
you’d better look out for your own,
she rasps

within i reply,
old woman, i am
i am

Written after a protest against a KKK march in Staunton VA November 17, 1987

Posted in The Neo-Luddite and Technology

Call of Dooky

Pardon the potty talk. I guess I’m regressing back to prepubescence.

But I am annoyed and I don’t mean that goofy character that threatens Domino’s pizzas.

It’s Sunday and as is typical, the paper is filled with store inserts. And it seems every insert has Call of Duty on the front page. Best Buy is the worst. There are three phones, a laptop, and a game console on the first page – every single one with the same puke green Call of Duty wall paper. I guess the idea is that you can play the game everywhere. Yuk!

I write a peace blog so I’ve got more than a few issues with a militaristic first person shooter especially this particular franchise which pushes just about every single one of my pacifistic buttons. Talk about being “depressed.”

I express my annoyance to my teenage son who is growing more receptive to my media maddened rants. He says that pretty much everyone he knows has the game. He’s getting used to not being allowed to play certain games that his friends and family members can. But I’ll be honest with you. It gets old being a parent trying to buck the current – and the current trend.

I mean the game is rated M, as in MATURE. Hello! So for the parents who seem to be unaware of what M means here is a little info. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rates video games similar to the way movies are rated. According to the ESRB website:

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Hmm. Delightful. I definitely want my child putting his fingers in that stuff. Psych! Sarcasm aside, just for comparison sake, that is similar to an NC-17 movie. In both the video game and movie rating system there is only one rating higher – A (Adult).

If it wasn’t so sad, I would be fascinated by the phenomenon where some parents will allow their children to play M video games and yet not allow them to watch NC-17 movies. But perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe parents are allowing their children to do both. I don’t know. I mean we are so inundated with media these days, how do we keep track? Quite frankly, I look around and I see a lot of parents who seem to have given up and a lot of kids without the necessary boundaries for healthy growth. That is why I write this blog.

So I’ve said my peace. I’m starting to calm down now.

Then my son shows me something else. There on page one down in the lower right corner is another advertisement for earbuds. But these are not ordinary earbuds – they are a tell tale green color and shaped like bullets. Yep, you guessed it. Now you can own your very own Call of Duty earbuds. I guess they make the explosions sound better.

But I suspect they are mainly to keep kids from hearing an alternative voice of peace.

And parents from having to be that voice.

November 10, 2011

Posted in PEACE GROOVES

Pitfall

“We will dig a pit,” the men shouted.
“And it will be beautiful.”
“We will fill it with our treasures.”

The bent their backs in labor.
The toil was great.
Dripping sweat,
they strained against the dirt.

In a while, the pit was dug.
The men reveled in its beauty,
for the sides were smooth and
it was very deep.

“Let us get our gold,” they gasped,
and turned from the hole.
But they turned too hastily,
slipped,
and were swallowed by their work.

What good was their gold now?

1985

Posted in PEACE GROOVES

Drone

The hand on the joystick makes a subtle twist.
The view dips into the confines of a ravine
then bursts free to reveal the lights of a
town glimmering like eyes in the dark face
of the ground.

A red light flickers across the screen.
TARGET ACQUIRED
The finger touches the trigger.
Twin streaks race out into the night,
converging,
a burst of fire,
a surgical strike
divorced from the gore.

Tomorrow there will be another announcement in
another newspaper about another death in this
invisible war,

the terrorist,
the pilot of the drone,
the boy in front of his XBOX 360
killing from the comfort of
home.

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/08/10/most-complete-picture-yet-of-cia-drone-strikes/

Reposted from November 6, 2011