Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Meditation on Iraq War Eve

Five years ago tomorrow we watched Shock and Awe on our wide screen television sets. It was a war led by false pretenses. It had nothing to do with the events of September 11th, 2001. The populace was misled. It had nothing to do with Weapons of Mass Destruction. The populace was misled.

I still wonder what the reason could have been for an invasion. What could this invasion possibly fix? It didn't take long to topple Saddam Hussein. We fixed him all right. One wonders if that is what one nation is supposed to do when the leader of another nation is corrupt? Do you think a military just goes in and fixes it and the problem is solved? What could they have been thinking?

Here we are five years later, a million deaths later, billions of dollars later, and the U.S. is stuck. If the U.S. were to pull out all of its troops tomorrow there will be chaos and increased civil war and many more deaths possibly for years maybe decades. Does the U.S. stay, occupying a foreign land, indefinitely? Of course, it cannot. At some point it will simply wear out and it will finally leave. Then it will leave them with chaos and civil war and deaths for years and maybe decades.

Those of us who advocate for peace, who saw this war as not only a mistake but an immoral act are also in a spot. Toward what do we work? Do we work for the U.S. troops to come home? That won't fix anything. There are wars all over this planet. Those of us who work for peace must look beyond political and military solutions to our problems. Politics and the military machine got us in the mess. It won't fix it.

Those who work for peace must work toward a higher allegiance than political boundaries and tribal alliances. We have done this before. The survival of humanity to this point has been its ability to expand our smaller allegiances into larger ones. Individuals realize that they need families. Families need extended families, neighborhoods, communities, states and provinces and nations. We know how to do that.

Now we have the need to expand our awareness and pledge our allegiance to Earth as the home of all humanity. We are all citizens of Earth. We will not be able to negotiate these issues--
and they are life-threatening, planet-threatening issues--by thinking any smaller than what is good for Earth and its people and its life.

We need a change of consciousness and this will not happen overnight. But it can happen if we believe in it and work toward it. We need to realize that what is good for my immediate family is what is good for someone on the other side of Earth. If it is not good for them, it will, eventually, not be good for me or my descendants. Humanity has survived because it has learned to adapt to wider and wider circles of awareness and cooperation. We face humanity's biggest challenge now.

This is where advocates for peace are needed. You are the ones who need to keep yourselves centered, focused, fit, wise, learned, and skilled. You need to work together. You need to dream, sing, hope, and work toward building relationships of trust between people.

Those who will participate in candlelight vigils tomorrow night will be participating in an effort to raise awareness. It is not a meaningless act. It is not a drop in the ocean. You never know what can come from participating in an event such as that.

Sandra, at ConcernedTNCitizens wrote this wise piece:

These are discouraging times. The media has decided to ignore the war for more "important things". We often feel helpless in our struggles for peace and justice. Just yesterday a young woman who attends Emory and Henry said to me "I don't do candlelight vigils. Go hold a candle and change the world. Right." She has a point, but she is also wrong. It isn't enough to just sigh and say "I wish" or "I pray". We must force ourselves to do things we don't want to do - but unlike these brave soldiers, we don't have to question whether we are right or wrong. We know we are right.

So, what do you say to someone like this student? Well, Jason told me, this last fall, that he started talking about his experiences in Iraq because of Concerned TN Citizens. Now, CTNC is not looking to take any credit - Jason is the brave one. What I am saying is that you just never know when your little flame might just light someone else's. And that person may be the one who makes a difference.

One candle may be bright enough to just light the path for that next step. But remember, the next step may be taken by someone else - and that's okay. They might not have seen where to put their foot down if it hadn't been for your candle.
Our congregation is hosting three Creating a Culture of Peace workshops. Even though that first workshop ended on March 9th, the work is just beginning. The participants are now working together in small groups to participate in various kinds of action for the peace of Earth on the local level.

Several people have come to these workshops because others participated in a march for peace last September. Networks of people working for peace are growing.

To say, "There is nothing I can do" or "No one listens to me" "Or what we do doesn't matter anyway" is defeatism. It is not true. You can be discouraged now and then. That is OK. You need your down time. Treat discouragement and sadness like guests. Be welcoming but don't let them stay.

So if you are near our mountain, come to the candlelight vigil tomorrow night at seven p.m. or one of the others in the area. Come to a Creating a Culture of Peace workshop on April 4-6 or April 18-20. You will be energized, become more aware of the world around you, meet others who also have a vision for peace, and you
will be making a difference.

If you can't come to the conference, consider being a sponsor or make a small donation to the cause. For $100 you will get mentioned in all of our publicity and advertising plus have a place for brochures at the training. And you get the warm feeling for supporting the work of non-violence!

Thanks, by the way, to Rebecca Nunley, DDS of Harmony Dental for sponsoring us! Rebecca already sponsored us on behalf of Dances for Universal Peace. There you go, "Dance with a Dentist for peace!"

Enough. Keep hope alive, beloveds. We need you and you are not alone!


  1. Thanks, John. I hope to read portions of this post tomorrow night, in the rain, to whomever shows up and decides to hold a candle with me.

  2. Well done John! Blog Swarm is on.
    Mine's up if you wanna read, or listen as the case may be. ;)

    Keep on keepin' on Sandra!

  3. Where does that million death number come from. CNN just reported less than 100,000 quoting something called Iraq Body Count.

    Do you have a source for your statistic.