Even Now, My Friends — Is War the Answer?
Was war the answer in the days of Kathe Kollwitz?
Kollwitz had lost a son in WWI. She opposed the tragedy of war, and here she depicts those who grieve over the state killing in 1919 of a great German worker for peace — Karl Liebknecht.
We mourn for Paris. We try to understand the grief of the stricken families. We imagine young people reveling happily at a rock concert, innocent of warring deeds, then shot down without mercy. We imagine the cries, the blood. We imagine people in restaurants, laughing, visiting on a festive night, then struck by sudden bursts of gunshot.
What is the answer, we ask ourselves. What are people to do? Perhaps we will have to think and figger on it, like Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. Yet governments don’t need to figger, it seems. It didn’t take much more than a day for the French government to find its answer to the wrath wreaked upon them. Bombs! they said. The answer is bombs! If you have fighter planes, you can bomb somewhere. Yes, you can bomb. You can kill! And that’s the answer.
It was not the answer in Iraq. (Nor in Afghanistan, nor in Syria.) Indeed the U. S. invasions of Iraq have been the cause, as common people seemed to know all along they would be, of the blowback hitting the west since 9.11. Governments don’t seem to know about blowback, though. The U. S. president has spoken, almost in wonder, it would seem, of Paris terrorists so strange as to have no values . . . such as we westerners take pride in.
Those Values of Ours
The Iraq Body Count has risen, as I write, to at least 146,835. This is the count of the civilian casualties in Iraq that have been documented by morgues, hospitals, and police. We can see our values at work here, as we watch the numbers mounting. The IBC site is operated by citizens of the U. K., and we read there about a British study of the Iraq War issued by the government a few years ago. Many details of the war were reported on, says IBC, but one detail that was not reported on was the number of civilians who died there.
Why not a little bit of peace, my friends? (We’ve tried everything else!)
If the U. S. and its allies were to become a force for peace and cooperation in the world, perhaps human creatures could survive on this little endangered planet of ours! Let us drop, not bombs in Raqqa, but food and water there, and desert tents for the refugees. Let’s build, not bases all over the globe, but clinics and bridges and schools — and be liked for a change! Perhaps Muslim people will forget, finally, all that we have done on their lands, forget even the French occupation of Algeria and the “dirty war” once fought there to keep that country in thrall.
May I say, readers mine, that like many Americans, I once lived in Paris for a time, and I’m a lover of French art and music — yes! — and of the mellifluous French tongue. Many years ago, I studied the literature of France at the University of Georgia and wrote a thesis on the works of Balzac in his Human Comedy. I revere the stories and poems of a great writer of conscience named Victor Hugo. Wish he were here. We could ask him, “What do we do now, monsieur?”
Don’t you like this picture on the right of Japanese youth marching a few months ago against the new military statutes in their country? There’s Youth Brigades, Middle Brigades, and Senior Brigades in Japan now, all saying NO MORE WAR — ever!
A Song of Peace
I should close, shouldn’t I? But please go to YouTube, write in the first line of the verse below, and listen to one of the many renderings of this famous anti-war song. It’s only three or four minutes long. It was written by singer Ed McCurdy in 1950 and heard around the world. Beautiful!
Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war!