Veterans Day QUESTIONS

On Armistice Day
The philharmonic will play
But the songs that we sing
Will be sad
-Paul Simon

Three events from last weekend color my view of this Veterans Day. One is a Friends of the Albany Public Library luncheon commemorating the release of Portrait of War: the U.S. Army’s First Combat Artists and the Doughboys’ Experience in WWI by Peter Krass. What was evident in the book from the author’s presentation is that the U.S. government, which hired eight artists to go to Europe, wanted the war depicted in a certain, heroic, way. (American general Jack Pershing, though, sided with the artists’ desire to be more realistic.) This mindset of war has been around for a very long time. Remember the source of “killing the messenger”, when the leaders would literally have struck down the soldier who would bring bad news from the front. The glorification of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman is hardly new.

Another item was a speech by Phyllis Trible at my church who spoke about how stories of domestic violence permeate the Bible. One example was Judges 19, where a man throws out his concubine to save himself, and she ends up being be gang-raped and killed. This reminded me that in so many wars (Darfur comes immediately to mind), there is a different sort of war violence placed on the women. This is done presumably to terrorize. But then what explains things such as American soldiers raping and then killing a teenage girl, and then killing her family?

The third is a sermon I read about Abraham and Isaac. It cites Bob Dylan’s Highway 61, reason enough to mention it, but it’s this quote that got me: “warfare is a form of child sacrifice, where nations offer up their children because, like Abraham, we believe that’s what we’re called to do.”

I suppose my point is that “War IS hell”, should be avoided at almost all costs, for even wars that most people would consider “just”, unintended consequences abound.

Which leads, inevitably, to these questions:

1. What circumstances, if any, would justify a “just war”?
2. What wars would you say were “just”?
3. What can WE do as individuals to stop or prevent war?

I’m asking because I really don’t know, especially about the third question.

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