Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If I could change anything


"We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage."

James Russell Lowell

"In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners."

Albert Camus

Well, yes, we kind o' thought that, and, yes, that is the job of thinking people, accents on "job" and "thinking." And it's a full-time job, a profession if you will, not a part-time gig or a hobby, though the pay is certainly considerably less and the grief considerably more than that given, say, congressmen, officers of General Dynamics or Colt Manufacturing, Xe private contractors or even the janitors in their offices in Washington and elsewhere. But there are and always have been and always will be thinking people working in this profession, some well known like Gandhi and most recently Cindy Sheehan (whose father worked for arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin), most little or unknown; and eventually they will either prevail or there will be neither victims, executioners or thinking (or non-thinking) people left to be for or agin war an' pillage.

My 13-year-old grandson, Japhy Carpenter-Dorworth, is a thinking person and when he was 10 he wrote an essay for school he called "If I could change anything I would change the war in Iraq."

He wrote:

"If I could change anything I would change the war in Iraq. I would change it because all the war has caused us is death and destruction. Sometimes in war teenagers are forced to go in the war and die. Animals die from bombs and starvation. Women and children die from bombs hitting them.

"Uranium bombs destroy and pollute cites for hundreds of years. They also poison the people who live in the cities. Everything around the war zones is destroyed, like forests, schools and hospitals.

"This war makes most Americans look like bad people, because they think all Americans are like the government. I don't think this war makes us safer because more people want to kill us now. Also the leaders of countries lie about war being safe and having a war as a good thing.

"I could change it by getting all the kids around to protest against the war.

"My plan would be to get all the kids to stop school and not do any work to attract attention. Then I would try to get enough attention to get an interviewer to get me on television and ask every kid from other schools to help me. After that I would tell all the kids to get any friends or siblings to help.

"Finally I would try to get on TV again. Then tell everybody we will not do work until we stop the war. Finally they would stop and all the surviving soldiers would come home. Then give some supplies and pay for all the damage we made. Then Bush should apologize to the Iraqi president and get fired."

A 10-year-old boy gets it.

That's the good news. That and the fact that since Japhy wrote his essay, the pretender who never really got hired didn't get fired but was forced to retire. Good riddance. Bad poetry.

The bad news is in the news every day. Iraq. Pakistan. Afghanistan. As the unwinnable wars in these three sovereign nations with puppet governments supported by American dollars grinds on, and the generals and highest politicians in Washington fail to learn the lessons that Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians learned before them in Afghanistan, and billions of dollars and thousands of lives vanish into the bottomless pit of that endless failure, the words of a 10-year-old boy make far more sense and ring infinitely more true than the words of Obama, McChrystal, McCain, Petraeus, Gates and others who cannot tell us what the mission is, what is the benchmark of success, why our troops are there or when or even if they will be home.

So far as I know, Japhy doesn't know about Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" and the title figure's plan to end the Peloponnesian War, but he seems to have come up with a 10-year-old thinking male's version of her plan to stop all work until the war is stopped. If the work of the world is war (at this writing more than $920 billion a year is spent on war—money and work that could and should be spent more usefully on education, infrastructure, health, the environment, disaster relief and thousands of other more worthy and honorable endeavors than war), then it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners and to shut it down.

Even a 10-year-old boy knows that.

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