Monday, May 30, 2005

MEMORIAL DAY is the American holiday created to honor and remember the men and women who are serving or have served in the military. This thought is often expressed by saying something like, ''Today we honor the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom; and those who continue to risk their lives every day to keep Americans safe."

I have always felt uncomfortable with this way of viewing Memorial Day. For one thing, it implies that when American women and men go into combat, it's always because the freedom and safety of all Americans is at grave risk. But that is not true. The war Americans are fighting at the moment was founded on deliberate lies and fraudulent information designed to convince Congress and the public that Iraq was a serious and immediate threat to our lives and national security. Wars in general, with very few exceptions, are caused by greed, lust for power, competition for natural resources, ethnic and national hatreds, and a thirst for vengeance that is often fueled if not caused by the wars that went before.

The second reason for my discomfort with the traditional way of thinking about Memorial Day is the implied conviction (at least in my reading) that the only way to honor and remember our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors who have died in war is to support war -- or, at the very least, keep silent if you oppose the war of the moment.

But there is another way to think about this day set aside to show our respect and esteem for veterans and soldiers. And that is to commit ourselves, as individuals and as a nation, to reshape our attitudes toward war. Instead of wading deeper and deeper into the filthy muck of war, out of a misconceived belief that the only way to give meaning to the sacrifice of dead soldiers is to keep shooting, bombing, and killing until vast numbers on both sides are dead, completely beaten in mind and spirit, or both, we can dedicate our lives and efforts to finding nonlethal ways to resolve the conflicts that keep wars going, and that lead to war in general.

Let's start today, by refusing to go along anymore with the deceptions and malevolent fictions our leaders continue to spin in order to drag us deeper into war and put even more young men and women in their graves.

More information on one way to start is here.

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