7.24.2006

Yes is surrender, you got to let it, you got to let it go

Bombs rock south BeirutWitnessing the current violence between Israel and Lebanon, along with the escalation of hostility between the U.S., North Korea, and Iran, and the ongoing war in Iraq, proves to me now more than ever that in order to survive beyond this century, to say little of this very decade, this world must take a stand in defiance of war, and fully embrace the cause of peace. The stakes of war have become higher than ever, with the fate of all mankind inching ever closer to the balance of all conflicts. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, interconnected, and interdependant, what was once global becomes ever more local, and all violence becomes local as well.

If the twentieth century was notable for its wars, it was also notable for the moral certainty underpinning its most notorious conflicts. Yet, following the irresolution of the Korean War, and continuing through Vietnam, Israel, and now Iraq, war has lost all pretense of glory, losing the certainty of victory among the growing pallor of ambiguity. Perhaps the true turning point was the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki under America's newfound atomic might. Never had warfare been more technological, more industrial, more effectively inhuman, and never again would human history rise and fall with the tides of war. In the atomic age, the new certainty was that after war there would only be a fall.

Our current war in Iraq was sold on the bonds of moral certainty, and shamefully, I bought more than my share. I was less concerned by Bush II's chicken-little cries of anthrax and dirty bombs, and more convinced that Iraq would be better off without Saddam running it. Though I had no reasonable evidence to support such an expectation, I expected our incursion into Iraq would be swiftly followed by efforts to support Iraq's infrastructure, and that a new government would soon be nurtured into place. The latter expectation was based on a misunderstanding of the bitter gulf between Sunni and Shiite muslims; the former expectation must have been fostered by some kind of temporary insanity that led me to forget the ribald ineptitude that had been the early days of the W administration. Iraq was stupidly allowed to devolve into a prehistoric state; utilities were shut off, libraries museums and archives were ransacked, and basic safety and security was obliterated by what has become the hallmark of post-atomic warfare--guerilla insurgency.

I was wrong about Iraq. So was John Kerry, apparently, though he failed in articulating his change in stance, which was but one, and a minor one, of his many failings. The truth of the matter was that I was fooled, and the lesson I learned was to never be fooled again. War is a refuge of desperation and weakness, and as it wears along it serves to further deteriorate the bonds of mankind, a gradual erosion that soon will lead to complete and utter decay and destruction.

Those who are lost in the fog of war will tell you that peace is an illusion, a pipe dream. To an extent, they are right, but it is only because of the fog of ambiguity that fosters all of our warfare. One will say, "how can you just sit back if your soldiers are kidnapped and beheaded?" or, "how can you just wait until the next World Trade Centers have planes flown into them?" or, "how can you just stand pat when our trains are bombed?" Such arguments try to paint the cause of peace as an exercise in ignoring reality, where ironically, the cause of war is without a doubt aided by judicious forgetfullness of reality. Then we ask, "if you consider that we are addicted to oil, and then consider that we arm the world, which pits those who stoke our oil addiction against those we arm, and in the process we anger an increasingly dangerous sector who despise us for simply being in their general vicinity, how do we deign to justify war on any grounds of moral certainty?" Or something to that effect.

War is never as simple as "smite me, I smite you back." The initial smiting is the result of eons of festering hatred, and the retaliatory smite strikes more than the intended target, injures more than the initiating party, and fosters ensuing eons of hatred. The cycle of war continues to turn, but recent misadventures in nuclear brinksmanship have me convinced that our current cycle of war may end them all, with the whole world the loser.

The answer to the equation is peace, complete and unequivocal peace. Though our current head of state seems utterly uncapable of it (his latest misfire has him sexually harrasing the prime minister of Germany), diplomacy and statesmanship should be seen as the primary tool for effecting change in the world. Does this mean we should have stared at our shoes after 9/11, and allowed the Taliban to provide safe haven for any and all lunatics in Afghanistan? No, not really. First of all, we shouldn't have armed Mr. Laden and his Talibanisters. Second, assuming a world where all nations band together against war and aggression, the world should turn its back on those who commit acts of war. If you can't play nice in the sandbox, you can't play at all.

I don't have the answer, and it almost pains me to say of all this. The main thing--I have learned my lesson. I won't get fooled again. War is not the answer. Peace is not a negotiation, and it cannot choose sides. Peace is essential. Peace is for all.

While I lack the skill and charisma to effect but the most miniscule part of this worldwide change for peace, one of my greatest heroes, John Lennon, laid out a great, though characteristically off-beat plan for peace in "Mind Games." How do you make peace happen? Have everyone on the side of peace band together as "mind guerillas," or "druid dudes," if you will, and think peace so much that it changes the world. It's not a bad idea....

John Lennon: People for PeaceMind Games
John Lennon

We're playing those mind games together
Pushing the barriers, planting seeds
Playing the mind guerrilla
Chanting the mantra, peace on earth
We all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic, the search for the grail

Love is the answer and you know that for sure
Love is a flower, you got to let it, you got to let it grow

So keep on playing those mind games together
Faith in the future, outta the now
You just can't beat on those mind guerrillas
Absolute elsewhere in the stones of your mind
Yeah we're playing those mind games forever
Projecting our images in space and in time

Yes is the answer and you know that for sure
Yes is surrender, you got to let it, you got to let it go

So keep on playing those mind games together
Doing the ritual dance in the sun
Millions of mind guerrillas
Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel
Keep on playing those mind games forever
Raising the spirit of peace and love

1 comment:

Martinique said...

I was just thinking of this same sort of thing the other day when listening to a different song,
"Your Next Bold Move"

coming of age during the plague
of reagan and bush
watching capitalism gun down democracy
had this funny effect on me
i guess

i am cancer
i am HIV
and i'm down at the blue jesus
blue cross hospital
just lookin' up from my pillow
feeling blessed

and the mighty multinationals
have monopolized the oxygen
so it's as easy as breathing
for us all to participate

yes they're buying and selling
off shares of air
and you know it's all around you
but it's hard to point and say "there"
so you just sit on your hands
and quietly contemplate

your next bold move
the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

what a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles
around one big right wing

yes, the left wing was broken long ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it's so hard to have faith in
anything

especially your next bold move
or the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself

you want to track each trickle
back to its source
and then scream up the faucet
'til your face is hoarse
cuz you're surrounded by a world's worth
of things you just can't excuse

but you've got the hard cough of a chain smoker
and you're at the arctic circle playing strip poker
and it's getting colder and colder
everytime you lose

so go ahead
make your next bold move
tell us
what's the next thing you're gonna need to prove
to yourself
-Ani Difranco
(I know - its cliche, Ani is, but she has some good things to say)