Those of you who follow me on Twitter or on Facebook know that I’ve been mentioning peace a lot lately.
Our nation has been at war in the middle east since 2001. Our sons and daughters are losing life and limb in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Now, with the recent attacks and loss of American property and lives in Egypt, in Libya and in Yemen I am afraid that we are facing dire temptation.
Before the attacks against our embassy in Egypt occurred I learned that our military recently increased their recruitment quotas. Why?
We are weary of war. Our soldiers want to come home and war is costing us far more money that tax cuts, Obamacare, Medicare or Social Security combined. Vast sums of money are being wasted. Lives are being destroyed.
In days of old, when a powerful empire waged war, it at least brought prosperity to the empire. In today's world, however, war is accelerating the descent of the American people into poverty. Why?
This is not the first time we have engaged in a neverending war. Vietnam was not so long ago. That was a war we fought and lost. You can blame it on the peace movement, you can blame it on Jane Fonda but at the end of the day there was absolutely no way we could have won that war as long as we persisted in force and violence.
Our nation is divided. We are not even at peace amongst ourselves. Because I am an Independent and because I refuse to blindly support either the Democratic or Republican party I have been ridiculed and reviled by the devotees of each party. Rank-and-file Democrats want Romney in jail for tax evasion and business fraud. Rank-and-file Republicans want Obama in jail for treason. Are they both right? Perhaps they are both wrong.
I am following this election campaign because I believe in the values my forefathers fostered. I believe in fair elections, in reason and in freedom. I believe that when good men and women throw their hands up in the air and do nothing, that is the moment when evil wins. And so, as painful and as distasteful as it is, I follow the news, I ask difficult questions and, despite those who advise me not to put myself at risk, I speak my mind.
A close friend of mine is grieving. A friend of hers was recently shot in the head and killed by her ex-husband. Right here. In these United States.
How can we hope to have peace in the world when we cannot establish peace within our own borders or even within our own homes?
I am angry. I am sick and tired of the insanity. I want to drop the bomb on Jersusalem, Mecca and Rome and be done with religion completely because although every religion espouses peace they persist in fostering hatred and instigating violence. I am tempted to rally my fellow citizens and wage insurrection... not against our government. Our government is fine. It’s the cynical bastards who have been placed into office by outrageously wealthy corporations who need to go. I am not a fool. I know that the same corporations who donate to the Republican party also donate to the Democratic party. I know that neither party is currently capable of establishing meaningful campaign finance reform because they are both bought and paid for and have been for a very long time.
I want to fire bomb the Westboro Baptist Church. I want to punch Pat Robertson in the face. I revel in the vision of my people finding the courage and the will to stand up side by side: black and white, Spanish and English, Man and Woman so that together we may butcher the lenders who have tricked us into buying loans we can never pay and drown the Koch brothers in their own blood.
I am angry... and, unlike most Americans, I am not afraid to lay down my life in the struggle against injustice.
While we bicker about gay marriage, school prayer and birth control our “elected” officials (and I know damn well the various ways in which elections are manipulated) casually and quietly pass the laws that allow them to arrest citizens without due process, that allow American companies to hire foreign labor at pennies on the dollar and allow a very tiny class of multinational investors to hoard unimaginable sums of wealth while our children become dumber and the dream of fairness and opportunity becomes a myth.
I see us headed straight for “The Hunger Games,” and I know that neither the current Republican Party nor the current Democratic Party can save us.
I applaud the Arab Spring. I admire the Islamicists for their courage, their determination and for their chutzpah. Are they insane? Yes. But, to put it bluntly, I’m surrounded by pussies.
The truth is that I loath violence. I know that the use of violence only begets further violence. I know that we can never hope to change things through force of arms. History has shown us over and over again that bloody revolution results in the establishment of a new regime so paranoid, so addicted to blood that it is more often than not worse than the one it deposed.
No. We must find new ways to change the world and more permanent ways to achieve justice.
I pray for peace every day. I pray for peace in the middle east. I pray for peace between American citizens. I pray to be at peace with myself.
With continued attacks against Americans abroad we are going to be tempted to escalate our military activity. Many of our politicians will call for the deployment of more troops and in the fever of national pride many of you will cheer them on. We will be tempted to use our drones and our bombs and our vast network of high-tech military might to punish the poor and the ignorant. Along the way many innocents will die and our world will descend further into darkness. Religious fanatics of all persuasion will exult in their theological triumph. “See! I told you so! These are the end times,” they will say. But time will not end. No messiah will come and the only rapture will be the harvesting of lives upon the blood-stained fields of ugly battle.
Those of us who survive will be left to pick up the pieces. With today’s technology, an escalation of war could result in the poisoning of seas and the loss of natural resources. Our grandchildren will inherit an ugly radioactive desert world not unlike “Mad Max.”
This is not the future I choose.
I love my children. I love my home, this Planet Earth. I love my fellow man and I love God with all my heart and I know that it is up to me to do what little I can to ensure a bright future for the generations to come.
Peace isn’t all flowers and beads and singing “Kumbaya.”
Peace takes many forms. Sometimes it is soft and inviting. Sometimes it can be cold and hard, a force to be reckoned with, an impenetrable shield and an unbreakable sword.
I believe in the complete withdrawal of our military forces from foreign soil.
I believe Egypt and Libya and Yemen and Syria MUST be left to their own affairs.
I believe that Israel must be left to face its future on its own: to either find a way to make peace with its neighbors or else be cease to exist.
I believe that our military cannot possibly impose “freedom” upon Afghanistan or upon Iraq. They must make their own freedom. And if they choose not to have freedom we must allow them to live with whatever form of government they establish for themselves.
I believe that those who suggest an armed overthrow of either Obama or Romney is a fool. If you do not like the Democratic party then be a man. This is a free country. Join the party and do what you can to change it from within. Likewise, if you do not like the Republican party then grow a pair, join the party and tell them that they must become inclusive and rational if they are to remain relevant in this century.
I believe that we must work towards peace within our families. After all, hasn’t our politics divided mother against son? Brother against brother? Husband against wife?
Most of all, we must be warriors. A true warrior knows that his greatest foe is himself. A true knight knows that the dragon does not lie out there in the wilderness or across the sea. The dragon is his own fear, anger and prejudice. The most important work each and every one of us must do is to overcome our own darkness. Make friends with yourself so that you might make friends with your neighbor. Make friends with your neighbor so that, together, we might make friends with the world.
I offer my condolences to the families of all those who have lost loved ones. Our nation has been in a military war against “terror” for eleven years. There is no end in sight. We will never win that way. We must use new weapons, the kinds of weapons that do not shed blood and wreck destruction but the kinds of weapons that change hearts and minds, the kinds of weapons that destroy the enemy completely by turning him into a friend. How? By starting within. By finding peace within yourself. By finding the peace of mind it takes to recognize that the enemy is an illusion. There are good people and not so good people in every group: Muslims, Christians, Republicans, Democrats, gays, trannies, blacks, whites, immigrants, billionaires and drug addicts. When the good people in all these groups overcome their fears and join together we will find that we all want the same things for our children’s children because we are all one family.
Peace, my brothers, peace.