So much of my life has been taken up by wars. The conflicts have vary in size and intensity but there are always has been a war on the horizon. One third of my life has just been taken up by just Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. In many ways, those wars help dictate the path of my journey.
Being a pacifist, there is no way I could kill another person but afraid I am not pure at heart in my beliefs. In the famous question always asked of a pacifist, "What about World War II and Hitler?". This is where my principles and values become a little more shaky. There is no question that I could not have killed anyone in that war but would have easily put my life on the line as a medic to save lifes. As a pure pacifist, you are not supposed to cooperate with war in any fashion. Alas, my weakness has been revealed!
When growing up my uncles clearly carried the scars of their combat. My Uncle Bob was in the Battle of the Bulge and was changed forever by it. Never once would he talk to any of us about this experience. You could see the haunted look that crossed his face when we asked him about it.
Then there was Korea, The Suez War, The Seven Day War, The Hungarian Uprising and so many little conflicts in colonial held nations where their people were fighting for independence.
The Vietnam War changed my life forever. This was the first time where I had to make a decision what I would do if called to serve. Knowing so many young poor people had no choice but to serve, the decision for me was to refuse to serve but stay in America and be willing to serve time in jail.
Vietnam is the first war where I lost people in the battles. My dear beloved good friend Russell Garrison was killed in Vietnam at 19 years old.
For five years of my life, working against the Vietnam War was my full time occupation. Through the marches on Washington, the Vietnam Moratorium and other entities so many of the young who weren't serving were fighting to bring them home. It was an extremely ugly time America with families, neighbors and friends on different sides of the issue. We dropped more bombs in Vietnam than all of World War II.
Of course America also invaded Panama, Granada, Dominican Republic and so other very short lived wars. After all, those countries weren't exactly a huge challenge.
Then came Desert Storm and it was over quicker than the built up to the War. But we bombed cities for the first time since Vietnam and it was enough to make you cry.
After 1995, there hasn't seem a time when the world was at peace. Over six million people died in a civil war in the Congo and no one cared. Over 800,000 were slaughter in Rwanda and the world didn't lift a finger. Even today over 20,000 have perished in Syria and the world seems powerless to bring peace. Iran and Iraq fought a war that killed over 1,00,000 people. India and Pakistan constantly are fighting wars.
Ranking right up there with Vietnam as an immoral war was the second War in Iraq. The entire war was based on lies, fear and half truths Thousand upon thousands died for a war that was never needed or justified. Watching the shock and awe bombing of Baghdad was sickening. Seeing young soldier died by the thousands and returning in flag draped caskets to grieve stricken families was too much to watch.
Now we are winding down the Afghanistan War after it being the nation's longest war. Just as we are able to breath a sign of relief there are talks of war in Iran and the Middle East that could lead to the worse conflagration ever.
Over the years, I have learned that the more a nation has to 'sell' a war to its people with half truths and jingoistic slogans the more likely that war should never be fought.
There were times that I thought in the early 1990's that a time of peace had arrived. America had negotiated the beginning of lowering the number of nuclear weapons, the Berlin Wall came down and new leadership emerged in Russia and China.
Unfortunately that did not last long but I still haven't give up a deep passionate hope for peace. I just have to believe that someday it is possible.