It’s been a year since Sandy Hook. It’s been a frustrating year for the most part for those of us who see the proliferation of guns in our society as so obviously insane that it begs the question that we are still having these conversations at all.
I’m not going to bore you with statistics. If you want to see what has transpired in terms of our response to the horror of Sandy Hook and Aurora and all the hundreds of children and adults who have died from gun violence, go here. It ain’t pretty. More loosening of gun regulations, the NRA with more money, fewer people having guns but more guns in a growing minority of very frightening and frightened people.
No, today I want to talk about war. After all, much of the argument around guns stems from our ideas of war doesn’t it? Was not the 2nd Amendment formulated so that states could call up their citizens in the face of invaders of one nature or another? How that all got bollixed into some personal freedom to carry a high-powered rifle to shopping malls is beyond my comprehension, but that’s not the issue either today.
It’s war itself.
War is the admission that we have progressed not so very far from the plains of Africa and the caves of France. We are still a species who settles disputes or responds to fear with weaponry and killing. Some suggest it’s in our genes, others that it is learned behavior, a product of our environment. As I have said many a time, no war ever ended war, though the motto of one, WWI was just that: the war to end all wars. It was but twenty years later that the greatest war of all occurred. So how did that work for ya?
My views about war are and were shaped by three things mainly: a book, a book, and a TV show. Sorry right-wingers, my passivity is not the product of elite liberal universities. No my opinion, my dedication to peace was formulated from reading the Bible, a book by Norman Mailer called The Naked and the Dead, and Star Trek, episode 23, A Taste of Armageddon.
As to the Bible, who can not be moved to ponder the following:
“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. . .(MT 5:39-40)
This is Jesus, and while there are some interpretations that suggest that Jesus was in fact making it impossible for the aggressor to accomplish the second strike, the import of the words are clear. Returning force to force is not the answer. Regardless of how we might come down on the issue of faith or religion, surely Jesus and His teachings are worthy of emulation. If they are, then war is unthinkable, nothing more than returning force for force on a massive scale.
Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead about his experiences in the Philippines during WWII. He wrote it in 1948. Say what you will, it paints a picture of war in decidedly unheroic, unglamorous terms. In a word, war is truly hell. It is dehumanizing, fear is palpable, death is only a shot away. Death surrounds and envelopes the characters. It’s unbearably hot and humid, it stinks, it’s lonely and it’s boring, and death stalks. It is shudderingly realistic. It would make NO one run down and sign up.
The Star Trek episode involved a planet that has suffered from war with another planet within its system for years, so many years that they were both in dire straits. If the war did not end, both planets would be utterly destroyed. So they hit upon a solution. They agree to a computer simulation of war actions. The computer assesses the “battle” and assigns casualties. A lottery system calls up the victims on each planet to report to “disintegration” chambers to voluntarily suicide. They have been doing this for years too, while their infrastructure is undamaged and life goes on.
Kirk and company put an end to the computer and the resultant real damage brings chaos and terror. Forced to confront the realities of war, Kirk hopes that they will rush to the peace table. The lesson is all too real: remove the overt ugliness of war, and war will go on forever.
Last week was another anniversary of Pearl Harbor, a so-called infamous day, because the Japanese made a sneak attack while diplomats were engaged in discussions in Washington on how to avoid war between them. This was viewed as a violation of the “rules of war”.
Things have not changed much. It is considered a violation of the “rules of war” to bomb civilians. It is considered the same to use certain types of weapons, such as chemical or biological ones.
I have to wonder at such limitations in general. For I truly get the logic of war being so God-blessed awful, so ugly, so painful, and so damaging that we will do nearly ANYTHING to avoid it or stop it. My husband tells me that I am a student of Sun Tzu:
Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live.
I take that to mean, that if you put the utter fear of death into your enemy , he will race to the peace table. My husband tells me that there must be rules of war, otherwise there is not path to peace. He may well be right.
I prefer to make war so ugly that no one considers it a viable option. I am a pacifist.
Left to my own devices, I would allow people the possession of paint guns to stalk and “shoot” game. I would allow people to go to shooting ranges to shoot targets. I would allow no other weapon ownership.
I am a pacifist.
I would declare gun manufacturers and shops to be “eminent domain”, paying them a fair price for their companies and giving them free education in another line of work.
I am a pacifist.
You are free to disagree, but you will follow my rules in my kingdom. And they say that Obama is a socialist! HA!