Make Veterans Day Armistice Day Again

By Jack Gilroy

Over one-hundred years ago, November 11, 1918, the Great War, World War I, came to an end.

People around the world rejoiced and celebrated the end of hostilities, a time to declare peace. The following year of 1919, the day became known as Armistice Day. It was not a day to celebrate war and warriors, but a day to celebrate peace.

The British and German governments are issuing a unique joint appeal to communities across the world to ring their church and other bells in unison on Armistice Day at 11 a.m. to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the awful slaughter.

It’s time for Americans to reclaim Armistice Day. In 1954, we dropped the name “Armistice Day” and adopted “Veterans Day.” We replaced a sacred day of thanksgiving for a day to glorify warriors. That was not the intent of veterans of WWI.

Veterans rejoiced at no more artillery and mortar rounds ripping through young bodies; mustard gas searing lungs and burning skin; the end of machine gun fire projecting 450 rounds per minute; innovation monster weapons of death, like tanks and weaponized aircraft that killed millions for Empire. People mourned for the mostly poor and working class drafted or lured by disinformation and lies of propaganda.

When Armistice Day was declared one year after the war, 1919, people were beginning to understand that the bloodshed was not about valor or glory or medals or service but about power and money. Just in the United States alone, 15,000 new millionaires were made in our short participation in the European war.Republican Herbert Hoover, director of the Food Administration in Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s administration, summed up the situation by noting: “Older men declare war, but it is the young who fight and die.” He could have added, “who fight and die for lies of the rich and powerful.”

Rory Fanning, a former U.S. Army Ranger with two deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, has written: “It gets clearer and clearer with each passing year that Veterans Day is less about honoring veterans than it is about easing the guilty consciences of those who have sent others to kill and die for reasons that have very little to do with democracy and freedom.” (The Guardian, August 2014) Kurt Vonnegut, one of our great American writers, lived the misery of World War II as a U.S. infantryman in Europe. Vonnegut has one of his characters saying in “Breakfast of Champions”: “Armistice Day has become Veterans Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans Day is not. So, I will throw Veterans Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. Veterans Day celebrates ‘heroes’ and encourages going off to kill and be killed in a future war — or one of our current wars.”

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Tiniest Teachers Offer the Greatest Lesson

By Tim Wolcott
(April 2017)

It took me by surprise. I couldn’t see the value of the forest due to the matter of the trees.

Recently I’ve been getting compassion fatigue taking a nursing home resident to church with me. I’ve been feeling helpful, and she would always voice her gratitude as we left services, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was her own worst enemy and that I was complicit in her demise. Jane (not her real name) is morbidly obese and would spend her time during the after-service social hour having numerous helpings of cakes, cookies and bagels with extra cream cheese. I felt pained from this dilemma until reading Alain De Botton’s latest novel, called The Course of Love.

I had been reading it to better understand the dynamics of spousal relationships. Mr. De Botton is an expert on emotional intelligence. His global organization, www.theschooloflife.com, offers great resources and a unique vision of education. Little did I anticipate how the section on Children, specifically the chapter on “Love Lessons” would clarify my mind and unweigh my heart.

Our dominant culture emphasizes that love, especially Romantic, is a give and take affair, quid pro quo. Our individualistic culture doesn’t acknowledge contentment with being at someone’s call. Mr. De Botton believes that this particular view of love tends to limit our compassion and frustrate our rational minds. Very young children through their exhausting dependence, egoism and vulnerability offer a different vision of loving to adults who are ready to listen. This kind of love in not based on reciprocity. Its “true goal is nothing less than the transcendence of oneself for the sake of another”.

Children teach us that genuine love is a kind of service. What’s so consequential is that most of us readily accept this service when it pertains to the very young, but ignore its legitimacy when it concerns an adult in need. I was surprised when I realized why my innate compassion for children hadn’t been activated toward Jane. She certainly needed my help, and I should have definitely valued the love that service to her offered me.

Children tutor us in a love based not on admiration for strength, but on compassion for weakness. Moreover, the child teaches the adult that service (love) “should involve an attempt to interpret with maximal generosity what might be going on beneath the surface of difficult and unappealing behavior”.

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Searching for Peace, Once Again

search4peace

Searching for Peace, Once Again

By Tim Wolcott

Soon before the beginning of the current school year, Bob Graves, the Maine-Endwell High School Spartan Theater Company Director, was asked what they were going to present in 2015-2016.  “Would it be another musical or a tragedy?”  The questioner (which was not me) went on, “I really liked when you produced those little plays about peace.”  Bob wasn’t yet sure what the company was going to do, so he honestly admitted, “we haven’t decided yet.”

Mr. Graves recounted this story in his introduction to this season’s first presentation, “Searching for Peace”, a collection of one-act plays and songs with peace as the central theme.  He went on to say, and I paraphrase, “after thinking about all the current wars that are putting American lives at risk, maybe it is time to revisit the theme of peace.”  I am glad he made that decision.  Too often the courage to trumpet peace is drowned out by the false majesty of war.

The present production was very similar to the 2006 production, but had musical interludes and a couple of additional theatrical acts.  The November 7th, 2015 performance was, depending on the piece, poignant, audacious and/or inspirational.

I also had the pleasure of seeing the production in 2006.  This production was a reprise of the four original acts – “How Violence Is Ended”, “The Christmas Truce”, “When the Twins Went to War” and “The War Prayer”.  The staging was different, but the text was the same.  In the Buddhist legend, “How Violence Is Ended”, the clarion call was repeated, “Do not be short-sighted” (seek impulsive revenge) and “Do not be long-sighted” (hold grudges).  “The Christmas Truce” recounts the spontaneous cessation of war on Christmas Eve by German and English troops during W.W.I.  Hearing “Silent Night”, hauntingly sung, in German, offstage while the English trench soldiers become visibly mesmerized by its serenity was very powerful. The message of Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” could not resonate more.  In that act, a preacher in the pulpit is rallying the congregation to war through biblical passages and patriotic slogans when he is interrupted by a female messenger from God.  She proceeds to translate the preacher’s uplifting rhetoric to its barbaric reality.  After a prolonged silence of rapt understanding, the congregants declare her insane, and the preacher continues his sermon as the play ends.

During the interludes, talented musicians within the cast amplified the powerful content from the dramatic acts.  A faculty member sang, in French, a WWI protest song (while a translation was shown simultaneously) that included the words, “President, if blood be shed, let it be yours.”  John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Let It Be” were sung to echo the non-violent sentiment of the production.  The evening ended with the entire cast and audience singing Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”.

We all do have to participate in giving peace a chance.  This production surely helped us see and hear how.

 

 

 

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We’re Number 88! We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index

2012 Global Peace Index shows slightly more peaceful world from 2009

– Common Dreams staff

The just released 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI) from the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that the world has become slightly more peaceful over the last two years, with Iceland ranking as the most peaceful country and Somalia ranking as the least peaceful place. The U.S. ranks 88 of 158.

The index takes into account factors including jailed population, political instability, conflicts fought and military expenditure.

“What comes across dramatically in this year’s results and the six year trends is a shift in global priorities. Nations have become externally more peaceful as they compete through economic, rather than military means. The results for Sub Saharan Africa as a whole are particularly striking – regional wars have waned as the African Union strives to develop economic and political integration.” said Steve Killelea, founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

“Peacefulness has returned to approximately the levels seen in 2007, but while external measures of peacefulness have improved, there has been a rise in internal conflict. This is particularly noticeable in the rise in fatalities from terrorist acts which have more than trebled since 2003,” states Killelea.

The findings also highlight the fact that peace has an economic advantage. The IEP estimates that global peace in 2011 would have had an economic benefit of $9 trillion.

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Video uploaded by Vision of Humanity with highlights of the 2012 Global Peace Index

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10 Most Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
1 Iceland
2 Denmark
2 New Zealand
4 Canada
5 Japan
6 Austria
6 Ireland
8 Slovenia
9 Finland
10 Switzerland

 

10 Least Peaceful Countries

Source: 2012 Global Peace Index

Rank Country
158 Somalia
157 Afghanistan
156 Sudan
155 Iraq
154 Dem. Republic of Congo
153 Russia
152 North Korea
151 Central African Republic
150 Israel
149 Pakistan

 

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Global Peace Index: Key Findings

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View Cost of War Daily Messages here

In case you missed some of the messages, they are all here. Click on the link below:

Cost of War Daily Messages, June-July 2010

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Cost of War Video

Cost of War Sign video – Binghamton, NY

Shot by Binghamton.indymedia.org

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United States Values Profit Over Peace

Letter to the Editor, May 24, 2010, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

By George Damasevitz

As we observe yet another Memorial Day, we are saddened to have added the names of over 400 more Americans to the list of those sacrificed in our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. No person is an island, and each will be missed.

How can we stop the killing? Is it really being done to defend our shores? Promote democracy abroad? Revenge for 9/11? Snuff out terrorism? Evidence of any success with these wars seems to be a closely held secret.

Is anyone benefitting from these conflicts? The answer is an emphatic “yes.” In our country there are corporations which have a right to exist and yet have no soul, compassion or morality. Their reason for existence is to make a profit. For some of these corporations, their employees and stockholders all benefit from the sale of weapons. These weapons may be bullets or bombs, guns or aircraft. The list is huge. And so is the money. And our taxes are paying the bill.

These same corporations effectively run our government, since nearly all elected politicians receive financial support for their campaigns from them. Politicians who vote against war run the risk of losing reelection. Many of their constituents work in factories where war tools are made. Since a significant portion of our economy is based on the defense industry, Americans are faced with a conundrum and have to ask themselves some hard questions such as whether or not they want to live in a society where their country is constantly at war just because it provides good-paying jobs. To end the killing, we have to overhaul our foreign policy and convert the base of our economy into more sustainable pursuits that will be useful to ourselves and the rest of the world. This will not be quick or easy, but the sooner it is done the better off we will all be. It is time for corporations to stop making profits from war.

As we remember our fallen Americans on May 31, it’s useful to point out that the church bell will never toll for corporations like Lockheed Martin, Halliburton or Raytheon — but it will continue to ring mournfully for our brave brothers and sisters who gave their lives for our country.

George Damasevitz was a board member of Broome County Peace Action.

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