Monday, May 26, 2008

Thoughts and reflections of Memorial Day 2008

During my formative years growing up in Pembroke, I was imbued with a culture of nationalism, patriotism and militarism. My enculturation taught me that I should support “my country right or wrong,” an enculturation where patriotism meant blind devotion to the United States of America, and I was instilled with the notion that “If we didn’t have a military we would not have a country!” It was a culture of unquestionable Christian devotion, and an unquestionable devotion to the “Red, White, and Blue.” It was a time when every young man was expected to serve in the armed forces of the United States of America either by enlistment or draft. It was a time when every school day began with a prayer and a pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. It was a time when I thought that my government would never be deceitful and that to be a politician was an honorable profession.

In those days, every Memorial Day was a major celebration. There was a parade to every cemetery in town, rain or shine, where the flag was placed at every gravesite of those who served our country in war, and where at every cemetery taps was played. It was a day of war legends, myths, and stories/anecdotes, and of war hero idolatry.

Memorial Day is a day that we honor our war heroes. It is a day of honoring those who gave all they had to give; but it is also more so a day when we glorify war, and when we celebrate our nationalism, patriotism and militarism via exploitation of our heroes.

Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2008 was a gorgeous sunny day. It was a day mirroring the day, almost a year ago, when Matthew Bean was interred. On May 19, 2007 Matty gave all he had to give to Iraq during a door-to-door search for three captured U.S. soldiers in the Sunni Triangle region of Iraq.

Matty is a true hero because his performance fits the very essence of the word hero. Matthew Bean gave all he had with courage, nobility of purpose as he understood it to be, and sacrificed his life for it.

Matthew as well as many other men and women also have given all they had, as well.

We should not forget on this Memorial Day that many others gave not their lives but they did give all of their futures. Men and women disfigured/disabled mentally/physically for the rest of their lives.

I am no longer that na├»ve child who grew up in Pembroke. When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and understood as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things. I have put away the childishness, the uncritical thinking of “my country right or wrong,” blind devotion to the United States of America, and I have completely rejected the notion “If we didn’t have a military we would not have a country!” Life has taught me that to be a politician is not always an honorable calling.

Let’s not let the politicians and the Trumans, Kennedys, Bushes, Cheneys, or Wolfowitzes of our country hoodwink Americans, and particularly young people like Matthew, into thinking that a Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq serves some nobility of purpose, as I did when I was a child, ever again.

Just look at the picture of Matthew Bean, because for most of us that picture is all we have, and tell me with all honesty: is Iraq worth the life of this young man? Do not just look at this man as the object value of a handsome young man who so happened to have lost his life, after all lives are lost in war, without profoundly understanding what his family and we have lost in our community and country as a result of his death. Think of the lost contribution that Matthew could have made to make this a better country. Whatever the outcome in Iraq it will not make us a better country. It is not what has been; but what could have been if only America had chosen a different course of action. Matthew’s grave is a metaphorical marker for what could have been as well as what could be; that is the reality of Memorial Day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

McCain's and Bush's false reasoning

The position that John McCain and the Bush Administration have taken in which negotiation is analogous to appeasement only reveals their ignorance. Their positions are archaic. They say the positions they take are a result of experience.

The notion that negotiation is analogous to appeasement is simply false reasoning.

The process of negotiation begins with opening avenues of communication. In its most basic meaning, the word communication means the creation of understanding.

Communication then becomes negotiation when there is a need for an agreement or a resolution. Negotiation means an interaction of influences. “Such interactions, for example, include the process of resolving disputes, agreeing upon courses of action, bargaining for individual or collective advantage, or crafting outcomes to satisfy various interests. Negotiation is thus a form of alternative dispute/conflict resolution.”
And, in negotiation there is always a need for diplomacy. Diplomacy means using skill, tact, and sensitivity in communicating with others.

On the other hand, appeasement is the granting of concessions, often at the expense of principle.

Creating understanding, interacting, using skill, tact, and diplomacy are simply not the same as making concessions, albeit negotiation will always incorporate some appropriate form of give and take, it is not synonymous with making concessions -- conciliation, pacification, or accession.

Conflict resolution does not begin with negotiation. This is principally where McCain and Bush make their error. If negotiation has had little success in the past it was precisely because the negotiation was started too late in the process to succeed. Negotiation is a process that begins with seeds of authentic communication. Just as with all things, the thing does not begin with the thing in and of itself – a need all of a sudden to negotiate. The things we value such as a car, an automobile, a television, a cell phone, or a computer are the result of accumulative knowledge -- opening up avenues of communication leads to the accumulative knowledge necessary for negotiation and the application of diplomacy. Moreover, this is an infinite process. There is not an end to this process – it’s ongoing.

John McCain and George W. Bush are not capable of new thinking. They are stuck in past history. They have not evolved. They are harnessed with the warrior mentality.

A viable peaceful existence will only come to fruition through the process of effective and authentic communication, negotiation, and diplomacy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Some War Dead Were Cremated at Facility Handling Pets

Regardless of what is said, the United States of America and its citizenry, because of their complicity, are completely insensitive to the sanctity of life: “We Torture” and “We Kill.” Instead of being outraged, as Americans we allow both without batting an eye.

America’s leadership is so unconcerned about the men and women they send into harm’s way that situations like what is described in the article, “Some War Dead Were Cremated at Facility Handling Pets,” happens.

Of course, we give obfuscatory reasoning as to why we kill and torture/we always have the perfect apology. Of course there are reasons here, and we do have an apology, also, but the fact remains it should have never happened.

Regardless of reason and no matter how rational it may sound, to me, it's completely unacceptable.

In light of all that has happened, including, but certainly not limited to, our torture policy, treatment of returning wounded veterans, the wars in and of themselves, Katrina ... and now this new revelation, Americans still question that we may have lost our moral authority -- REALLY?