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January 31, 2012

War - What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing! Part 2

War, What is it good for? I have missed filling this space with words chosen to inspire us to be the best we can be. Almost three months have passed as I fought with words trapped inside my head that wouldn't connect with my fingers. The more I struggled to write, the more frustrated I became. It took me some painful days to recognize that I was suffering battle fatigue. My life resembled a battlefield, covered with the shrapnel, blood and stench of death from experiences that no longer were useful or relevant in my present. I recognized in the heat of battle with myself that it is difficult saying goodbye to things that no longer serve who I have become. Straddling the past and present caused paralysis of my thoughts and actions. No wonder I couldn't write. I hadn't came to terms with the fact that sometimes what one wants to do has nothing to do with what one is able to do. I gave my self permission to let it be okay that my schedule was out of sync. I allowed the rotting yesterdays that I dragged around like a teddy bear to fall into the compost where it would fertilize and help me grow. It took the death of a treasured friend January 24th 2012 to blow me out of the foxhole I had burrowed into. I peeked my head out as the smells of rest and renewal welcomed me.

The world of violence and the wars I detest are still in progress. Words, images, symbols bombard us as we wonder why we feel so bad. I don't know about you but I think it is because some days, no matter what I affirm, pray for or believe, it appears that evil has swallowed all that is good. Frederick Pearl's words are a powerful reminder that "When you're in the dark, don't forget what you saw in the light." With that powerful quote, let me get back to keeping the light on war.

January 11, 2012 the world was again subjected to the brutality, violence and loss of humanity that war perpetrates. A video surfaced around the world of four Marines urinating on the corpse of Taliban soldiers. Disrespect, cockiness, and lack of humanity were openly displayed while they laughed. The following is one of many news reports regarding this incident. It is graphic, sickening, and presents another opportunity for us to question War. What is it good for?


The following is from The Military Times:

Marines allegedly urinate on dead Taliban in video
Corps to investigate clip that appears to show insurgents' corpses
By James K. Sanborn - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jan 11, 2012 16:45:00 EST
SEE MORE VIDEO FROM MILITARY TIMES

"The Marine Corps is promising to investigate a disturbing video that appears to show Marines in Afghanistan urinating on the bloody corpses of alleged Taliban fighters, officials at the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The 40-second clip, titled "Marines peeing on taliban," has spread to numerous websites, attracting thousands of views and hundreds of comments — some of them criticizing the men in the video and condemning the Marine Corps at large. A caption beneath the video identifies the men as members of a scout sniper team assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. The individual who posted it also remarked "I thought Marines were suppose [sic] to do the right thing when no one is watching.

Marine officials are working to confirm the men's unit and their identities, said Capt. Kendra Hardesty, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon. Once that information is verified, their unit will assign an officer to conduct the investigation, she said.

In the video, four men wearing what appear to be Marine combat uniforms are seen standing around three dead bodies, quietly talking and joking as the camera rolls. They are equipped with chest rigs, grenades, body armor and some specialized gear. One is holding a precision rifle.

Toward the end of the video, one of the men looks down at a corpse and says "Have a good day, buddy." Another zips his trousers and remarks "Golden like a shower.

It is unknown who filmed the video, but it appears it was first uploaded to the video-sharing website YouTube by a user identified as semperfiLoneVoice. That account was created Tuesday and includes only this video.

Semper Fi is the Marine Corps' motto. A contraction of the Latin phrase "semper fidelis," it translates in English to "always faithful." Marine Corps Times emailed semperfiLoneVoice seeking comment but did not receive a response.

In a statement, Marine officials at the Pentagon said the service is working to verify the video's origin and authenticity.

"The actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps," the statement reads. "This matter will be fully investigated."

On Marine Corps Times' Facebook page, the story immediately received dozens of responses from readers. Many expressed support for the men appearing in the video. One reader posted a comment reading: "Taliban corpse? And you people are upset over it? … I'd do the same and all my grunt brothers would too."

The unit identified in the caption beneath the video — 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines — returned to Camp Lejenue in October from a standard seven-month deployment to Afghanistan's Helmand province. Its Marines saw intense action in and around Musa Qala, a violent district located in northern Helmand.

Reached Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the battalion's parent command, II Marine Expeditionary Force, declined to discuss the matter, saying that despite widespread media reports linking the individuals in the video to 3/2, there has been no verification yet these men were assigned to any unit within II MEF.

"That's still unconfirmed," said Capt. Scott Sasser. "That was just on some report that came up online. That's all we have right now."

Marine officials at the Pentagon learned of the video Wednesday after receiving a media query from The Sun, a British tabloid, Hardesty said.

A spokesman for the Defense Department, Navy Capt. John Kirby, called the video "egregious, disgusting behavior," telling CNN "it turned my stomach."


It turned my stomach too. A blogger by the name of 900 pound Gorilla comments on the psychology of war atrocities. He cites a study that shows the faces of men and women caught on film while observing executions and other atrocious acts and they showed complacent stoicism and enjoyment and satisfaction in others. Again I ask you: War what is it good for?

"War is nothing new, and though it may appear we are a more violent world than the past, the opposite is true. Though it feels that the world is more violent, it isn't. There is just more information about war. Examine the data compiled by researchers Bethany Lacina and Nils Petter Gleditsch of Peace Research Institute Oslo."Worldwide, deaths caused directly by war related violence in the new century have averaged about 55,000 per years, just over half of what they were in the 1990's (100,000 a year), a third of what they were during the Cold War (180,000) a year from 1950 to 1989), and a hundredth of what they were in World War II."

If you consider the increasing global population that has almost quadrupled in the last century, war deaths have decreased. Armed conflict has been replaced by a different kind of war. A war of words that evoke fear against an unseen enemy. It is called terrorism. Since 9/11 the United States has used the words terrorist and terrorism to trigger a human phobia that has done more harm then the men who flew the planes that killed more than three thousand people. American military leaders have used fear to have us turn our backs on our values, betray the principles this country was built on, decrease our civil liberties by adopting The Patriot Act that harms Americans more then the terrorist we purport to destroy. We have turned on one another by spying, given up our morals by agreeing that torture is acceptable and watch our national debt to support wars drag us into a recession bordering on a depression. Will we give ourselves permission to call our leaders out for the psychological warfare perpetrated against us that has done more harm than Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda and terrorist around the world? It is time for us to courageously take a universal stand and in one voice say, PEACE is the only option that we have if humanity is to survive.

The wealthy elites, the 1% of this country and around the world, continue to rule with hatred, fear and greed because they believe we have either given up or believe the lie that truth, compassion, love and compromise are passe. They are wrong.

We must remember that it isn't in our nature to be violent. We have let politicians convince us that they are protecting us when they wage war. War is a choice, and it is up to us all to choose life and peace over oil, land, money and power. It is time to educate one another that wars and genocide are planned. It is political in nature and dictated by our leaders and politicians.

The question is how do we stop war and eliminate war mongers? There are as many answers as there are solutions, but it begins with changing the way we think about war. It is time to challenge the belief that war is the best and only option to leaders that threaten freedom of speech and what we believe, how we worship, and who we love.

We must recognize that we are not only Americans, or Asian, Hispanic, European, Russian, etc. But that we are one humanity. We are a world citizen beyond anything else. We must each decide that peace isn't left to one organization to represent nations but we are the peace that we seek. Peace activist Colman McCarthy said "I like to dress like a conservative and talk like an anarchist." That means to me that in order to reach people who don't agree with me I have to be willing to stand in their shoes and know that what I have been taught as an American doesn't negate what other people across the world believe. I am outraged but the disparity around the world and the lost lives of the innocents. But I know I can't stay angry because that is dangerous. Anger is blame, resentment, lack of understanding, and it resolves nothing. I must look at my enemy, not as a fellow human being with different belief or ideology, but as hatred, greed, and ignorance. There is no class, race or nation that has a monopoly on these evils. We are all equally responsible, especially when we know differently. I challenge you to question what you have been taught about war, and instead go with the knowing and truth that is your compass, your gut, your God, and your guide. We are not on this planet to hurt one another no matter what our cause. We are not on this planet to destroy the earth and water no matter what our reason. War doesn't make us safe, it is the catalyst that is destroying the only planet we call home. Mother Teresa spoke about oppressing and the oppressors. She described oppression as the "poverty of spirit, poverty of lack of love." She said that there was no sickness in the world greater than that one. I agree.

In conclusion, we must end war. If we don't, it is naive to think that humanity can survive. It is time to give up being right at the expense of being kind. It is time to pull up our chair where we live and have conversations with those we disagree with and agree that if we don't stop warring, we all lose.

Comments and thoughts ... Email PatriciaStatue of Liberty


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