Today, 35K people are blogging for peace

“When your fight has purpose—to free you from something, to interfere on the behalf of an innocent—it has a hope of finality. When the fight is about unraveling—when it is about your name, the places to which your blood is anchored, the attachment of your name to some landmark or event—there is nothing but hate, and the long, slow progression of people who feed on it and are fed it, meticulously, by the ones who come before them. Then the fight is endless, and comes in waves and waves, but always retains its capacity to surprise those who hope against it.” – ― Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife

(I’m not an official blogger for peace, check Mimi Writes if you want to be a member and use the official logos.)

The quote from Téa Obreht suggests one reason why war is so difficult to stamp out.

My introduction to the realities of war came from reading All Quiet on the Western Front when I was in high school. I found this novel to be so graphic, I could not comprehend how anyone who fought in a war, observed a war or read that book could possibly support any politician calling for war. I won’t read it again.

I felt the same way after reading the equally repellant Johnny Got His Gun. “Hawks,” I wanted to say, “this is what war does to people.” Along with many others, I learned about the unnecessary and immoral firebombing of Dresden when I read Slaughterhouse Five. Cynically, I wondered how many of those who raged at Sherman’s approach to war thought what we did to Dresden was somehow justifiable.

We don’t always hear the anguished stories of those who fight and return because they can’t or won’t talk about what happened over there. I’ve written elsewhere that I think the real casualties are those who survive so that they can go through the hell of the battle every night in their dreams. Perhaps we learn a little from war reporting, and later from historical novels and nonfiction accounts. Perhaps if we spent one day in Ukraine, we would become doves forever; but I doubt it.

Dresden, where 25,000 people were slaughtered.

Kurt Vonnegut, wrote in, Slaughterhouse-Five, “You know — we’ve had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. ‘My God, my God — ‘ I said to myself, ‘It’s the Children’s Crusade.'”

And so it usually is. We imagine there’s glory in it. There is not. The idea of glory is the sham that sends the babies off to fight and that celebrates their work if they return. They never return, actually, because they will never mentally escape the slaughterhouse of battlefields and the cities like Dresen that got in the way.

Perhaps if we listened to their nightmares and shared their PTSD, we could become doves forever and–as we used to say (and sing)–“give peace a chance.”

When it comes to a prospective war, your thoughts about the wrongness of it matter.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Vietnam War novel At Sea.

In the old days. . .

. . .we said we were killing commies for Christ because in many ways we were. Before that  we were killing heathens for Christ and now I suppose we’re killing Jihadists for Christ.

Dark sarcasm summed up the way many of us felt when the “Killing Commies” phrase was popular, though just as politically incorrect as it is now.

In reality, it’s easier to fund and justify war if you don’t mention that you’re killing people. It’s also easier if you leave Christ out of it since He was never really in it in spite of what some people thought.

Around the world, bloggers are blogging for peace today. I didn’t sign up at blog4peace so this is an unauthorized post.

Peace comes from within, I think. That’s where it starts. You have to feel it and know in your heart and soul that war (or killing anyone for any reason) is a violation of universal tenets. War comes from the ego’s fear. Peace comes from the soul’s love.

I really don’t know any other way to say it.


Maybe there will be fewer Memorial Day sales this year

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. – Robert Laurence Binyon

My wife and I see our reflections in the Vietnam War memorial as I find the name of a high school classmate two died there.

Memorial Day Sales

These anger me because merchants raking in money and shoppers getting a good deal on the latest electronics equipment are not the purpose of this day.

Must we commercialize everything, including the day set aside for remembering our dead?

I’m by no means a hawk–just the opposite, actually. So, I do not see Memorial Day as part of the misbegotten notion that there are glory and honor in war.

Some say we should use the day to visit military cemeteries and memorials. That’s a better idea than heading over to Walmart and filling up a shopping cart. We could spend a quiet day at home or walking a favorite trail through the forest: such things allow us time to attune with the universe, ourselves, and our fallen soldiers.

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

Reading this book at a relatively young age was a strong influence on my becoming a pacifist. The novel is graphic, shows the dying, the dead, and the battle-weary in ways that leave no space for saying “isn’t this glorious?” Not that I’m suggesting we all stay home and read military history, battlefield novels, or watching films like “Saving Private Ryan” or episodes from the old TV series “China Beach.”

You Don’t Need to Become a Pacifist to Remember

The fallen were doing their duty as they saw it, sometimes against their will (at times of conscription), whether we agreed with the need to fight a particular war or not. Those who came home from those wars have not forgotten the fallen. Those who came home and those who did not and the families and friends of both often supported the wars and the need to enlist, heart, body, and soul. Those who supported the cause and those who did not have an opportunity to come together on Memorial Day and remember those no longer with us whom we loved.

I’ve written somewhere in one of my novels that the true casualties of war are those who come home with or without PTSD. They need our support and understanding and, on Memorial Day, our solemn regard for those who were killed. There’s no support available from us while we push and shove through the crowded aisles on a big box store.

The stores I respect are those that close on Memorial Day out of reverence for the meaning of the day.




Mixed feelings about Veterans Day sales

Can we best honor our veterans by getting a price cut on a bottle of Viagra or a quart of fresh whitewash?

I have mixed feelings about this.

According to Newsweek, “Black Friday may be the most well-known day to find great sales, but Veterans Day also brings major discounts and promotions.”   The magazine’s feature article lists major stores and sales in case you can’t find them yourself.

While Memorial Day sales and hi-jinks are more out of line with the sacred quiet of the day that those who died deserve, I have often thought that veterans and their memories of moments nobody else dares imagine are the true casualties of war. As such, they deserve more respect than a trip to the store to get a sweet deal.

I’m a veteran and a conscientious objector, so I’ve seen the clouds of the war issue from both sides. Since my pacifism is based on my religious beliefs, it would be presumptuous of me to advocate pacifism for men and women with different religious beliefs.

I believe as mystic Ralph M. Lewis believes: “Peace manifests externally but begins internally–that is, in the thinking, idealism, and mental discipline of each individual. Peace must begin with the individual and work outward.”

Yet, I support our troops because they sacrifice their sanity and their lives to do what they believe is right on behalf of our country. I don’t support the politicians who lead the country into meaningless wars. But those who fight in those wars, have my admiration and gratitude.

I don’t propose that we spend Veterans Day in a church or with many hours of mediation in front of a candle in the sacred center of our homes. If that helps you, then it is good. It doesn’t help me. But looking for sales doesn’t help me either. In fact, I think it’s an insult to veterans. Nonetheless, I can’t fault anyone who loves a sale any more than I can fault a veteran for fighting a war that I think is a stain on the world’s psyche. Perhaps there are more gods out there than we can shake a stick at, so truth be told, there are numerous ways of seeing the issues that bring me mixed feelings on this day.

What I want to do on Veterans Day is this: the same thing I would do on any other day. That is to say, I appreciate the freedom and safety veterans have helped us achieve and maintain. So, I will fix dinner, read a book, work on my novels, watch some television, play with my cats, and remain in awe of a wife who loves me in spite of my faults. I don’t have any mixed feelings about that kind of holiday “celebration.”