Government and Politics and Social Issues10 Jun 2017 09:46 pm

This past memorial day I found it strange and somewhat disturbing how often people greeted me by saying Happy Memorial Day. I think it odd and somewhat inappropriate to wish someone a “happy” day of remembrance for those who died in battle.

I guess it takes an empire to want to portray war and the loss of lives as a happy event worthy of celebration and pageantry rather than mourning. We are after all a bellicose nation who has spent the vast majority of its existence engaged in war and in the policing of the entire globe.

Our leaders continue to state that war is the option of last resort and only happens when all other diplomatic options fail. Yet, over the last few decades these words seem increasingly hollow and even mendacious as attempts at diplomacy have become invisible if not totally extinct. When was the last time we sat down and talked to a nation we consider to be an adversary. We live in a world in which discussion between leaders could be conducted in setting such as the UN, or held on live television in which citizens could be privy to important and vital discussion.

War should only be resorted to when all other options fail. War should not be about oil, economic superiority or ideological and religious intolerance. War should not be about trying to control or influence the course of sovereign nations or as a means of pressuring others to think and act in ways which we hold dear.

War is more a failure of government rather than a function of government. How can a nation who leads the world in military spending and arm sales by a wide margin describe itself as a beacon of freedom and democracy, and as a leader in working towards world peace?

We have become a nation that openly regards cooperation and negotiations as an unacceptable weakness and any tolerance of other political and economic systems as an insufferable bad example worthy of enduring the brunt of our military might. I find those committed to seeking ways of avoiding war to be heroes and worthy of our deepest respect and gratitude. Likewise I feel the same sense of admiration for those unwilling to kill others or to fight in wars that could be avoided. While wars can involve heroic actions, the actions of those courageous enough to avoid war and violence, such as MLK, Gandhi and the Dali Lama, are extremely heroic.

People who live honorable lives should be honored, remembered and mourned. Having a day dedicated to the memory of all good people who have died is valuable and important. Yet, while we honor he dead, we should cherish the living. War does not cherish the living. War places the survival of concepts, beliefs and personal gain above that of the survival of life. Peace is life affirming, even war with the noblest of intentions destroys life, that is why war is a last resort and a failure of government.

War is the progeny of fear and hatred. Peace is the natural outcome of compassion, understanding and a respect for all of life.

Jim Guido

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