American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
War is Hell, Not Cause for Celebration
Donald M. Murray, a retired teacher and journalist, is a regular columnist for the Boston Globe. The following passage is excerpted from his October 3 column.
I marched with the 82d Airborne in the World War II Victory Parade down Fifth Avenue in New York and hated every long minute of the celebration.
This comes to mind because I just saw a television news report on the veterans who want to build a 7.4-acre World War II memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC, and the veterans who oppose it.
Count me with the opposition.
My opposition is not because the National World War II Memorial e-store commercializes the memory of those who died in my war. It's not because I am offended by the golf shirts, caps, mugs, and umbrellas sold on-line, making my war equivalent to a trip to Disneyland.
I am not opposed because the large memorial may or may not obstruct the view of other memorials and crowd the already busy Mall.
I am opposed because what men and women do and survive in combat has nothing to do with statues and fountains and plaques and flags. It has everything to do with men and women, civilian and military, being killed, maimed, or left mentally ill because war became the only way to resolve human differences.
When suddenly the war was over, we were treated like heroes, but there are no heroes in combat, only those who do their terrible duty under difficult conditions.
Do not make heroes of us. Allow those of us who served at the
front to live out the lives we never expected to walk away with,
quietly, with our lonely memories and our private, contradictory,
and unresolved emotions of pride and shame.
Phillip Berrigan, imprisoned yet again for a Plowshares action, writes from Hagerstown, PA. The following is an excerpt from a longer Reflection.
Denial permeates American society like salt in sea water. Our institutions practice denial habitually--cavalier with the truth, jealous of the status quo, feverish for expansion, money, and power. Individuals learn denial from the ambiguity and equivocation of institutions, which patronize the culture.
War itself is an outrageous denial--the most terrible cussing of God (we never speak of this); the greatest contradiction of who we are and how we ought to live. War is a total subversion of reality (we never speak of this either). Deeply implicated in war and nuclear saber-rattling, we deny that, rejecting any responsibility. Finally when pushed to it we deny our denial.
There is certainly much that we can do in resisting an oligarchy, the coalition of naked power--government, transnationals, military, media. But there are thresholds of understanding that are preliminary: first, our malaise is spiritual, centering on our acceptance of violence; second, the followers of nonviolence must believe in the God of compassion and justice; third, conduct is the norm--we must act; fourth, nonviolence is more than a tactic, it is a Way of Life. Nonviolent communities of resistance must be sought and built. Be ready for sacrifice.
The above will require a reordering of priorities--we must make room in our lives for justice and peace. There is no option to learning nonviolence in community, and nonviolent resistance at the hell holes of the empire.
Yes, that is where we will end up if our faith and love hold. That is where God will lead us. That is where we will break the laws legalizing madness and death. That is where we will lose our lives, only to find them.
For the barbarians are at the gate again, except that this time,
they are our own people. What must we do to humanize them, before
they destroy themselves, us, and the planet?