Wednesday, April 30, 2008

study war no more

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry (b. 1934), farmer, writer, poet

today is the 33rd anniversary of the end of the vietnam war - I confess I didn't instinctually know this fact; I discovered it last night when I glanced at my cat lovers against the bomb calendar. ironically today is also the anniversary of the 1970 u.s. invasion of cambodia and the 1789 election of george washington - the first president of the united states - I wonder what this george would think about these contemporary events and involvements?

thinking of vietnam leads me to thinking about iraq and visa versa. critics of the iraq war have attempted to use the u.s. experience in vietnam as a powerful example of why the u.s. should not be engaged in this war in iraq. a few years ago vietnam war veteran and foreign policy analyst ronald bruce st. john wrote an essay which succinctly discussed the similarities between the two 'wars.' although it was written in 2004, four years later nothing has changed in terms of the comparisons or the lessons we should have learned.

"Vietnam and Iraq were both wars of choice. And they are also similar in that deceit and misrepresentation was employed by the U.S. government, first to engage U.S. forces and then to keep them there. President Bush took us to war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al Qaeda. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and no ties to al Qaeda have been discovered. We were also told our troops would be greeted with open arms and flowers, which didn’t last long, and that Iraqi oil would pay for most of the reconstruction. Now we are told that we’re actually in Iraq to nurture democratic self-government, but political reconstruction is also going badly."
to read the entire piece go here.

it doesn't take much to get me fretting about the situation in iraq and frustrated and angered about the fact that the u.s is still there. on monday's diane rehm show the first hour featured a panel of guests who discussed the the alarming rate of post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd), depression and suicide among returning veterans. according to a recent report entitled "invisible wounds" at least 1 in 5 veterans have ptsd. the invisible wounds of today's soliders are another area where the parallel between iraq and vietnam can be made. for more information on diane's panel or to listen to monday's show click.

the great mahalia jackson singing study war no more.

photos: top -sacred lotus flower and bee at kenilworth park & aquatic gardens; bottom - mass protest against the iraq war washington dc september 2005

3 comments:

Barbara said...

I love that poem. Our rabbi often reads it to open Shabbat services.

TheElementary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheElementary said...

Sorry, had to correct something.

Wendell Berry is one of the writers that leaves me silent and in awe when I read. He's a gem of our time.
"I wonder what this george would think about these contemporary events and involvements?" I do that too. I do that a lot. I wonder what past generations would think of us, and also what on earth we will have as explanation for future generations.

This is the opening line of a poem Wendell Berry wrote for his grandchildren:
"Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry."
It breaks my heart to read it. The whole poem is at http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1383.html
As always your posts give me something to think about.