The photos last week of the little 5 year-old Syrian boy who had survived the bombing, touched my heart. Often I have to turn off stories about the Syrian war. By now it is possible that between 200,000 and 400,000 thousand people have died. Often all I feel I can do is pray. I am a peace supporter. I protested the second Iraq War of George W. Bush for months and months. I became a peace advocate in my 30s, so I was not a hippy in the 60s and 70s and part of the protest of the Vietnam War. However, today Bob Dylan’s song touches my heart, particularly the line:
“Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’till he knows
That too many people have died?”
When will all these wars end? “Blowing in the Wind” answers that question for me.
That is how I feel about the endless wars that have been the backdrop of my entire life. I did not experience them directly, but I had a taste of them through teaching some of the immigrants I taught English to as an English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) teacher. First, I learned a little from my Vietnamese students in New Hampshire and even in North Carolina and also from the other teachers who taught with me. This was long after the War in Vietnam had ended (in 1990).
The first year I taught as an ESL teacher, I read “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” by Le Ly Hayslip. Ms. Hayslip is Vietnamese, so the book was written from her perspective. When I saw the movie that Stone made from her book, it became much more the point of view of her American soldier husband, so Hayslip’s story was diminished. In any case, her book helped me to slightly understand who I was teaching at the time. I learned that first year teaching that the wars we Americans fight, when our troops leave these countries, they are left destroyed. After destroying their countries, then there is new wave of displaced people and immigrants who have suffered the ravages of war at the hand of American foreign policy.
Later in my career I taught Korean students, Palestinians, a few Syrian students, long before the present war in Syria. One of those students had a family that was living in Egypt when it used to be more stable. I had the good fortune to teach students from most of the countries of the world and because we needed to practice speaking and listening besides teaching English, I was able to learn something about their lives.
I love the USA, but I have deeply revulsion to our foreign policies in world. I believe that since the end of World War II, which ended before I was born, most of our foreign policies have been bankrupt, greedy, and very destructive.
A man who understood war well, President (and General) Dwight Eisenhower, warned us Americans before he left office at the beginning of 1961 NOT to create a “Military-Industrial Complex”.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
-President Dwight David Eisenhower
This is President Eisenhower’s entire farewell speech:
Our politicians did not heed Eisenhower’s wisdom. Greed superseded wisdom.
I have no idea how to stop all of the wars. What I do know is that I personally must be at peace within myself and like myself. When I am feeling down, I notice I am NOT as kind to others. I have to start by being kind to myself. Stressing myself about “getting things done” and pressuring myself is NOT a good way to treat myself. Also when I disconnect myself from my heart and my source, I find I think and act more negatively towards others. I believe this is the beginning of callousness towards others and the “roots of all war”. All I can do is correct myself. If each of us, focuses on our own lives and also is willing to work with others, I believe it is possible to end war. Also getting the profit and greed out of war and selling implements of war: guns, rockets, etc. to others is also necessary. No telling when that might happen. No matter what, I can still be as peaceful as I can and live a happier life because I choose to be kinder towards myself and others.
I love this song. It says my point of view in a song, “Down to YOU”. Thank you, Bonnie Raitt.