Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's Not My War

Ever since I was a teenager, I have wrestled with the spectre of my country's armed forces, my nation's military might, with its trillions in military spending (at the expense of other programs and apparently lesser priorities), and above all, most of all, Amerian participation in (and now precipitation of) WAR.

WAR is an all caps sort of word, never lower case. It is the choice, by the President, to kill people.

Even as a teenager, I was a pacifist. Not passive -- I was outspoken, even at 16 -- but not a believer in the faith that aggression would ever solve cultural, societal or global problems. In college, I became an historian not of wars past and present but of all sorts of non-war things. But then so much is, at least indirectly in this culture, war-related.

We Americans don't export a heck of a lot anymore, at least not in terms of things you can buy on the shelves of your local big box stores. Our exports are fewer than in decades: namely, low common-denominator ideas, low common denominator movies, low common denominator music, the myths of the American Dream -- and our farthest reaching global export -- the military and WAR.

So how to come to terms with something so BIG in this country, so inescapable, so pervasive, so expensive, that is against my religion of Gandhi-esque, Thoreauvian pacifism.

The strife of this association tore me up for decades, and I am not over it, not be a long shot. But I am refining my thoughts on the matter and coming to new, more reassuring terms with this most physically and mentally violent of acts.

Meaning, I am not owning up to war, I am disowning it, divesting ever further. Others' wars are their own, their own win or lose, whether folly or futile or the way to a better future. Even if that, war is not my road. It's not my way.

It's not my war.


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