THOUGHTS ON MEMORIAL DAYS PAST AND FUTURE
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I never went to war.
At least, not the kind of war you think of when you hear the word.
The kind of war we imagine on Memorial Day is the CNN-Al-Jazeera-Hollywood action movie war, where there are lots of explosions and bloodlettings and widow-makers and much camaraderie and cussing and-us-and-themisms tossed about.
War by definition is a horrible thing. Those who declare war let loose the dogs and, whether right or wrong, whether winner or loser, they have the lives of us at the mercy of their hands.
Those who actually fight the wars, whether conscript or volunteer, whether victim or aggressor, are doing work that the war-declarers have failed to prevent.
There are other kinds of wars being waged since the beginning of our genetics—wars of words, wars of ideas, wars of subjugation, wars of powermongering, wars of pettiness, wars of territory, wars of belief systems, wars of defense, wars of intolerance. These wars only represent the inability of those in charge to talk and discuss and compromise and settle for less than conquest and more than obliteration.
I never went to war.
But I am the victim of all wars, and you are, too, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not.
Are we as humans capable of avoiding war, or are we predisposed forever to draw chalklines and establish doubledogdares and respond to resistance as if we always know we are right and they are wrong? Ask the few real thinkers and viziers of the world who can see us as we are. According to the best of them, we have war locked within our DNA. The only way we can ever go warless for a period is to find and follow great leaders who are wise and kind and charismatic and who set sterling examples for us through their behavior both private and public. During our all-too-brief episodes of great leadership, we have peace. The bad news is, once we lose a great leader, we sink right back into our predisposed fears and intolerances and bigotries and aggressions. The only hope we have is to forcefully seek those potential great leaders and, leaving behind our hilarious and disturbing small-mindedness, look to them to keep us all from killing and banishing and mistreating and mocking one another.
Where are these potential leaders? As H.G. Wells said, we know who we are and what our weaknesses are, but we must find a way to live each day as if they did not exist, as if every moment of life is worth living, as if the fate of the entire universe depends upon every kindly act and thought we can muster.
A mad plan, but perhaps the only plan that makes sense in a senselessly chaotic cosmos
(c) Jim Reed 2010 A.D.