Monday, January 22, 2007

War and Peace?

In my newfound quest to try to understand how we arrived at this rather uncomfortable period in American history, I somehow achieved a personal milestone. I managed to sit for a dozen hours looking at still photographs. My first real glimpse into the heart of the American thirst for perpetual warfare was during my holidays in Halifax when I watched the entire eleven hour Ken Burns 'Civil War' documentary. This highly addictive episodic documentary illustrates in excruciating detail the depths of despair and destruction that our ancestors were willing to experience in the name of “freedom.”
And then this weekend, while I was visiting Washington with the truly delightful girl I'm seeing, Katie, I got to stare up into the eyes of the man behind it all, Abe Lincoln (carved out of stone in his monolithic memorial).Now before I go bashing Abe’s aims in the American Civil War, don’t get me wrong, the emancipation of slavery was as difficult a task for a leader to achieve as say an intelligent healthcare model would be for a US president governing the ‘hold your pee for a wee’ generation, and for that I have a deep found respect for old Abe. But something in the quality of the words he spoke to me (the ones inscribed on the wall that he actually spoke to the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg) reminded me that in order to preside over a Civil War where over half a million of your countrymen are killed, you have to have a certain fervor (or dare I say) military zealotism. The belief that we can better our own lot by killing others (or in the case of Abe's war, better the communal lot by killing those unwilling to hold hands in Union) just seems like a concept spawned from children who've yet to grow up. It seems like it might be time to move beyond such a simple concept of us and them.

And of course on our way back to the car I had to take a walk past the Vietnam memorial.I guess it didn't help my state of mind that when Katie and I went out to a local D.C. drinking-hole two out of the three people we met for cocktails were defense contractors, one of them a self-confessed "Soul selling bitch for Lockheed Martin".
With the flags at half mast for the recently fallen 'good guys'. And not-so-good-ol' "They misunderestimated me" GWB sitting, (likely not in that round office of his) more likely lounging with a half eaten pretzel and a Sunday football game somewhere in that mansion on Pennsylvania Ave, I guess I'm just starting to wonder if there is hope for growing up and establishing a new, less violent paradigm for the governments of our little planet.
"You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one."
—George W. Bush, Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006
Maybe China will do a better job as the dominant superpower. (Except that a whopping twenty-million folks were killed in their last Civil War… Gulp.)


Post a Comment

<< Home