The liturgical intercessions last week at the monastery mentioned Fort Hood. Though the abbey guesthouse did have the daily paper on the table in the waiting area, I generally try to avoid the news when I am on retreat. I waited until Friday afternoon to read about the horror in Texas. Deeply saddening, but not surprising.
On the drive home, a news report mentioned that there have been nine suicides of military personnel (in the past year, I believe I heard) at that base, one which has also contributed more casualties than any other US base. Bush/Cheney adventurism comes home to roost, and by the way, nobody from neocon territory is harping about supporting the troops. We need not wonder why.
I see this as another example of the impotence of violence as a way to address even the execution of violence, let alone some fairy-story threat conjured for or by Big Oil. Enacting violence on human beings exacts a toll on a human being. Just because we can’t see it happen as aphysical cause-and-effect doesn’t mean it’s not inevitable. The ancient Christians knew this well. Even as they formulated just war justifications, they realized that soldiers are damaged by the violence they commit, even when justified by circumstance or admittedly heroic defense. Soldiers were sent to monasteries to do penance, sometimes for years. It wasn’t intended as a punishment any more than a person is confined to a hospital for gravely serious injuries or illness. It’s not unlike stepping in front of a truck to save an innocent pedestrian. The virtue of the act doesn’t change the reality that several tons of metal will crush the hero’s body. And if the hero doesn’t die, she or he will face a long, painful rehab from debilitation.
The best thing President Obama can do is to affirm the declared victory of Mr Bush and withdraw American troops from Asia as quickly and as safely as possible. The alternative will be a continued psychic and moral damage to military personnel. The very least the federal government can do is to steer care and attention to the soldiers battered in any way by these senseless escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fighting these wars have weakened this nation economically, morally, and spiritually. They have spawned lies and self-deception in our citizenry. It’s time to heal. It would be one matter if an innocent child were in danger of getting crushed by a truck. The neocons have fashioned a phantom to protect out of an oil slick and a stack of money.
Feel free to comment, but if you’re going to attack pacifism directly, please be prepared with some serious answers to the questions I’d ask of the President or anyone else attempting to justify this mess.