Saturday, June 9, 2012

40 years later...

War is not something that's new to the human experience. It's a phenomenon that has taken place for thousands of years. People disagree, & they think the answer is to kill off everyone then declare those left standing the winner. Novel idea for conflict resolution, huh? Clearly, it's worked well. Oh we are millennia later, still fighting.

I can buy into the notion that until the last century, commoners were more or less removed from the battle scene, relegated to back-home cheerleaders for "their" cause. Soldiers brought back stories of war that would make anyone think the "others" were barbaric enemies. And of course nobody would imagine that "their" guys could be just as vicious...after all, they were fighting for the right cause. And with both sides holding the same viewpoint with one-sided information, I'll accept the idea that this lack of full perspective allowed the concept of a just war to continue. 

BUT...& this is a big one...that all changed 40 years ago. The Vietnam war was the first globally publicized war that showed true horrors firsthand, delivered to average homes on tv. I'll give you a moment to go to google images & type in "Kim Phuc". You don't have to be any more descriptive, the photo will come up. I'm choosing not to include it here because it is so horrific it leaves me in tears. It's a prize winning photo of an 8 year old girl and her brothers running away from their village, burned by napalm. Her skin literally falling off her body. She survived, she's still alive, but that is not the point. The point is....40 years ago we, as a global community, started to have regular access to images of the comprehensive effects of war. Not the soldiers returning home with battle scars. Not the tales of the unholy things "the others" would do. But the stories of the innocents. The ramifications of our actions on people who had nothing to do with the fight in the first place. 

Now, one would think that as a whole, the world would be horrified & put an end to this immediately. But we didn't. Instead, we found bigger, deadlier, scarier ways of proving how right our cause is. Right now, over in the Middle East, there are children being burned to the bone by white phosphorus. This stuff melts away skin & reignites when doctors try to operate. And before you get so horrified that those barbaric Middle Easterners would do such things....there was recently another little girl who suffered this way and the US military issued a statement that they cannot be sure if it was our weapon or theirs that caused it.

Let that one soak in for a second. The military intelligence does not know what their weapons are targeting. They are...unsure. They use terms like casualty of war & unfortunate incident. These are CHILDREN! Children are not casualties, they are not in the wrong place at the wrong time by playing out in the streets of their home town, they have no understanding of the asinine politics going on in the world...all they know, at that moment, is that they are in terrible pain. 

And we, as a global community, allow this to continue. We perpetuate it by funding scientists who find more lethal ways to do it.

When will people understand, we borrow this earth from our children? We inhabit it for a short time, while our future bloodlines continue to live here when we are long gone. Instead of leaving a legacy of beauty, health, and generosity....we're leaving behind nothing. And by nothing, I don't mean vast wastelands of devastation & toxic remnants. I literally mean nothing. It is the goodness, the kindness, the love within humans that sets us apart from other creatures. In teaching our children that destroying other lives is an acceptable means of conflict resolution, we are destroying the humanity within all of us. We are leaving a legacy devoid of anything but atrocity. We should have learned from those images that first streamed into our livingrooms on tv. We should have learned from the generations of innocents that we have destroyed. We should have found a way to protect them, to say no more. Instead, we were so outraged that we found ways to make it worse. 

This is what I want to change in the world. When I say I got into social work to have an international impact, this is what I mean. I tell people I'm not interested in child welfare work, but that isn't really accurate. I'm interested in global child welfare work. In educating others as to how our misguided ways have & will continue to affect the youngest of our generation the most. In speaking up to ensure that the world is a safer place for those who will be here when I am long gone. In being a voice for the children who hide amongst rubble and bombs who have no understanding that this is happening because people on the other side of the world pray differently, or vote differently, or live differently. That is what I want to change, and advocate for & educate about. This is why I love working with refugees, I have a very tiny impact in my very tiny corner of the globe on a very tiny number of people affected by the atrocities that governments have committed in their "just wars". And if I am very fortunate, one day I will be able to have a greater impact.

There are no just wars. There is one earth, one global community, & one human race. And we are destroying it one child at a time.

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