Tuesday, November 17, 2009

what is it good for

Illus: Joe Kubert Star Spangled War Stories #137 "War That Time Forgot" Page 4 Original Art (DC, 1968)

Last Sunday our Unitarian minister wrapped up a Veteran's Day service about homelessness among our Vets by admonishing the congregation to create a world in which we never go to war again.

With some discomfort I realized I don't believe such a thing is possible.

I once I did.

In part, I've been spoiled by stories. Good stories, true stories, real stories all have conflict at their heart. The best stories portray the transformation that occurs when that conflict is conquered and resolved.

Conflict originates in the struggle for power, something that, frankly, all of us should grasp for. Owning our own strength, claiming our will to power, is what makes us human and gives us the courage to find the capacity to fulfill the dreams that drive us forward.

But of course, conflict occurs when the will to power of an individual or an entity treads on the autonomy of others.

Conflict cannot be entirely prevented in world that honors democracy and freedom, because preventing conflict means squelching free will and freedom of expression.

War, of course, is conflict out of control; conflict that requires severe remediation; and is often driven by individuals who have exerted their will to power at the expense of others' right to live. War should be the last measure, always, but can we really imagine a world in which it falls out of our lexicon? Falls off our list of options?

What matters more, I realized with a start, having been raised to believe that a conflict-free world of peace is possible, having felt always that soldiers are doing something inherently distasteful, something ultimately shameful; what matters in a way that is more real to me now than dreams of an abiding peace ever were, is to ensure that when the fight comes -- because I'm sure now that it will come -- what matters is that it's a fair fight. [1]

A curious side effect of this realization is that my conflicted feelings toward soldiers -- the career guys who serve honorably and take their duties seriously, several of whom I'm proud to call my friends -- has been transformed into one of greater respect and deeper gratitude.

This idea that war will always be with us is old news to a lot of folks; it's a curious revelation to me because it contradicts my usual posture, and maybe it will shift again as I grow older and greyer and long for pastoral landscapes and quiet places full of courtesy.

As I write this, such a place seems hard to come by.

Speaking of fair fights: The original comic art of Joe Kubert, who inked Tor, Tarzan, and Seven Soldiers of Victory for DC Comics is on auction through Friday »

Also related: How a soldier is working for peace by fighting poverty (see The End (Jake's Story) at the top of the pile) »

[1] Granted: Given the current constructs of war -- in which the poor and disenfranchised are the most likely to die and the multi-national corporations are the most likely to profit -- there is much work to be done to ensure the fight is fair.

1 comment:

I, Rodius said...

I love coming here.

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