Tag Archives: war

The Insanity of America

stop killing our children“Only in the insanity of corporate America can nonviolent animal rights activists be charged as terrorists while a white supremacist who gunned down African-Americans in a South Carolina church is charged on criminal counts. Only in the insanity of America can Wall Street financers implode the global economy through massive acts of fraud, causing widespread suffering, and be rewarded with trillions of dollars in government bailouts. Only in the insanity of America can government leaders wage wars that are defined as criminal acts of aggression under international law and then remain, unchallenged, in positions of power and influence. All this makes no sense in an open society. But it makes perfect sense in our species of corporate totalitarianism, in which life, especially the life of the vulnerable, is expendable and corporate profit alone is protected and sanctified as the highest good.”
−from “A Haven From the Animal Holocaust” by Chris Hedges,
posted August 2, 2015 on Truthdig

In my last blog, I wrote about war. I’m against it, in case you didn’t guess. But even as I wrote the blog, I found myself thinking, What’s the point of saying this?

Most people are against war. At least war as a concept. And we’re quick to say we are because, frankly, the saying is easy. But while you and I are condemning war our government girdles the earth with its weapons, its troops, its secret agents, it covert operations. War and near-war and the bloody aftermath of war, all of it is as constant as the weather. All of it merely something to complain about.

Chris Hedges, whose words I borrowed to open this piece, was once a war correspondent for the New York Times. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, he refused to maintain the official “neutrality” demanded of a journalist and was forced to leave his coveted position. (Somehow it’s considered neutrality when reporters repeat the official government line on such matters.) Now he speaks his truth through an Internet site called Truthdig. Unfettered, he talks of war and much more.

Chris Hedges is one of my heroes. When he speaks, people listen. Lots of people listen.

I am a children’s writer who has been around for a long time. My voice reaches a few folks.

But here’s the question I keep asking: What changes when either one of us speaks, Chris with his big voice, me with my small one? Not one cache of carefully aimed nuclear weapons will be shut down because of our words. Not one child sent into the world with a gun to “defend our freedom” will come home early. No person of color incarcerated for a petty crime will be released. No corrupt, self-serving bankers prosecuted. Our polluted planet will find no reprieve because we have spoken.

Chris has named it correctly. Corporate America and the government owned by corporate America is insane. Consumed by greed. Blinded by power. Lost in a vision of profit that obliterates all in its path.

And even as I speak, repeating Chris’s words and adding my own, I have a vision of our voices disappearing into cyberspace, floating out there somewhere between here and the moon, gone . . . gone.

Is the pen truly more powerful than the sword? Or do we simply soothe ourselves, Chris and me and all the other “truth tellers,” with words? Suckle those words like a baby with a pacifier. Do we believe in change? Truly?

I’m no longer sure I do, and I’m not sure the world around me does either. I have a sense that we have lost hold on that most American of all dreams . . . a belief in the future.

Yet I find myself saying it, needing to say it, and carrying in my heart other voices that say it, too: This blue-green earth is so precious. All who share it with us so precious, too. We must name the beast intent on destroying us. Name it and name it and name it!

And once we have named it, we must turn and bless one another.

What If?

If from Space not only sapphire continents,
swirling oceans, were visible, but the wars –
like bonfires, wildfires, forest conflagrations,
flame and smoky smoulder – the Earth would seem
a bitter pomander ball bristling with poison cloves.
And each war fuelled with weapons: it should be visible
that great sums of money have been exchanged,
great profits made, workers gainfully employed
to construct destruction, national economies distorted
so that these fires, these wars, may burn
and consume the joy of this one planet
which, seen from outside its transparent tender shell,
is so serene, so fortunate, with its water, air
and myriad forms of “life that wants to live.”
It should be visible that this bluegreen globe
suffers a canker which is devouring it.
−“It Should Be Visible,” Denise Levertov

children and tank
What if we believed out loud the words we whisper to our children . . . that war is bad, evil, an irredeemable sin?

What if we refused to see war as inevitable—every war past and present and future—what if we refused to see war as something to sigh over, to prompt a long, if temporarily sad, face?

What if instead of hinting at the badness of war in our children’s books—as though by saying it to the very young we can pass on responsibility for all our failures—what if instead of making sweet-but-sad stories for the very young we spoke to one another? And spoke in voices meant to be heard?

What if we truly believed that the nuclear arsenals scattered around the world, each watched over by power without conscience, by another fallible, hair-trigger finger, what if we truly believed that they were meant to explode, by accident or design, today . . . tomorrow?

What if we, each of us in every corner of the globe, held back the money we give our governments to wage destruction? What if every one of us refused to vote or had the courage to vote for one who is destined to fail, one who dares speak peace?

What if we believed our own words, that war is a game old men send children out to play . . . a deadly, deadly game?

What if we considered supplying our children with toy guns as shocking an obscenity as handing them toy dildos?

What if we eliminated from the face of the earth the phrase “fighting for our freedom”?

And quit saying to our poor, “This is your way into a secure life. Put on this uniform and we will then—after we have flayed your body, your soul—agree to educate you”?

What if we refused to watch any film, read any book that turns war into high drama, into heroism, into the answer.

What if we declined to feed our children on the profits made from selling bombers, Agent Orange, the flags of our superiority?

And what if we let ourselves see the canker devouring this bluegreen globe—and us—from within?

What might we do then?