Another Perspective

A letter to the editor- that got me thinking today about sacrifice, 'noble causes' and our options in Iraq. So often people structure the anti-war discussion in terms of whether or not Iraq represents a justifiable 'use of force'. But what constitutes a justifiable use of humanity, sacrifice? Are we willing to die for a noble cause, and how do we determine that cause? How many Americans would be willing to give their lives for anything, on the left OR the right? There are those who say that they do not consider giving one's life for this war to be honorable. Some even question the motives of those who enlist: "They just did it for a job, they never thought they would fight, they are not doing it because they believe strongly in this crusade but because they joined for the benefits and lost the gamble". Then there are those who ask if those in the peace community would be so compelled. How many of us would die for peace? And how do we honor those that do?
Tough questions, and certainly I cannot claim to know what lies behind the very personal decision to serve one's country. There are elements of propaganda certainly, a government that uses its enlisted men and women for everything from vaccine trials to combat. But I truly believe that there are many soldiers who think that they are doing something important and honorable by their own understanding, who do stand behind the morality of this war and their actions. I may not agree with what passes for a moral cause but I cannot discount the passion with which others may defend their view. Would I give my life for this particular cause? No. Others? Its all hypothetical though for us. Would I give it for peace? Can I relate to a person who acts, as a person who comments from the sidelines? How many of us are ready to die for peace as so many are ready to die for war? If we were, would it shift the balance?
Anyway, these are not easy things to sort out. Skip Mendler wrote:

The Options in Iraq

Why are the options in Iraq always presented in such
stark distinctions?

Almost universally, the choice presented are these:
either a complete pullout and abandonment of the
peoples of Iraq, or the strict continuation of the
present disastrous military occupation.

I think there is another path available, one that is
not being discussed nearly enough.Withdraw the
occupying troops immediately, yes - but replace them
with at least as many humanitarian workers and other
civilians to help the Iraqis continue the
reconstruction of their country and their lives. I am
not talking about the current crop of "cowboy
contractors" who come to Iraq just to see how much
profit they can milk, but rather ordinary people who
know how to wield hammers and care for sick children.

The objection will be raised that such people would be
walking unarmed into extremely dangerous situations,
and be vulnerable to kidnapping and worse. I think
this is absolutely true - but I also think that until
our humanitarian forces are as willing as soldiers to
go into harm's way in support of our beliefs, then we
will yield the field to militarists who know nothing
beyond the use of force. The examples of Rachel
Corrie, Marla Ruzicka, the Christian Peacemaker Teams,
and others who have been willing to risk the ultimate
sacrifice in the name of peace must be acknowledged,
honored as we honor our fallen soldiers - and most
importantly, followed.


Benoit Lapierre said...

Hi from canada.
Yours blog is very interesting!
Keep on going .

Lew Scannon said...

A very good plan that would work more wonders than planting propaganda. The people of iraq are without electricity and water, if we were to send people, not contractors or soldiers, but Peace Corps types, it wouold do a lot to present a more realstic picture of Americnas, kind compassionate and caring, not gun toting thugs such as we are perceived as now. Also sending women would be good as Islam strictly forbids the harming of women.

Lily said...

Well be careful when you say "forbids harming women" as that is not always true. There are women killed simply because their virginity has been taken by rape. This does not represent all of Islam any more than Falwell represents all Christians. I'm just pointing out that we cannot generalize nowadays. The war in Iraq does not meet the criteria of the Catholic Church, the Methodists, the Quakers, etc. and yet Bush is a Methodist, see? Religion doesn't seem to stop people from doing anything.
I have discussed this subject quite a bit with Take Pause and I think she would be an excellent candidate for somebody to go to iraq.

Bitch said...

Going to Iraq to possiby die as an example of how we peaceniks ought to be functioning does not seem to "call" me as it did when Lily and I discussed the matter. I check on the progress of the Christian Peacemaker hostages regulary and so respect what they have done and are doing. Refusing to accept intervention from the US govt. which is doubtful that would have happened anyway. Our govt. has a history of letting hostages die but these folks are different. You must be willing to die in order to join a team and never request violence of any type be used to save you.

I checked into the qualifications to join them recently; my sister seemed to think I could pass the "entry exam". :)

So now I have two people that could live with my practicing what I consider a good way to die.

Take Pause

Lily said...

No, I would not want you to go to Iraq to die- I think that the work you do right here that I have been witness to (and far more that I have not) has value, you can contribute to the cause of peace in ways other than bloodshed! Death is not the only way to give of ourselves in meaningful ways.
We have many things planned for 2006 and we need your help right here!! I am guilty of not appreciating what people here do to help with my crazy protests/ schemes because as you know I am always thinking "its not enough!" to the point of insomniac mania. I was very upset about the turnout at the last vigil- I felt disheartened and negative. And the "protest consumerism" event at the mall was just sad. The protesters went shopping!!!
I admit to some anger at the people who did not show up that swore they would. But you know, I have missed things too. Perhaps this harsh judgement factors into the reluctance of people to get involved. Let's work on realizing that just because we are not being killed does not mean we do not remain active right here in our communities. Doing what we can. Glad to see you here, TakePause. I know you've been busy! But you have been missed.

tp said...

What kind of an entrance exam?

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