Today I wish everyone a thoughtful Veterans Day.
Personally, I am trying to hold in my heart all of those that have fought and are fighting in wars throughout the world and throughout time, on all sides of the battlefield, "enemies and friends." I am trying to hold in my heart the soldiers who have killed and/or died in humanity's wars. I can't imagine either of these fates. I am trying to hold in my heart those lives that were lost training for war. (Thanks Dad for the reminder to remember these oft forgotten veterans.) I am trying to hold in my heart the civilians (those sympathetic to war, those wishing for peace and those who don't even understand what's happening) who have been caught up in the war machines of today and in generations past.
It is a lot to try to hold, so much anger and sadness, so much pride and power.
I want to offer an apology to the veterans on behalf of all of us:
I am sorry that you had to get caught up in our collective disfunction. I'm sorry that we haven't figured out how to get out of the cycle of trauma. I'm sorry that we will continue to send you to war, because we don't know how to stop yet.
I don't think we will stop going war anytime soon, so in honor of those who have suffered so I want to see if we can collectively promise to shift this experience with war a little bit.
Can we make a promise to try to resolve our disagreements every way possible before choosing war? This might include the very uncomfortable situation of talking to and engaging with people with whom we have fundamental disagreements.
In the case that we do need to go to war, can we make a promise to approach it with the requisite levels of nuance and precision? In no case is it a good idea to go to war with an entire nation of people. It is simply racist and ignorant to pretend that any culture or nationality is a monolith of malevolence, and it's just not strategic. Short of absolute genocide (God forbid), the outcome of every war needs to be peaceful friendship with the survivors. Any other approach seems misguided. Let's try to remember that the diversity of life is everywhere.
Finally, can we promise to at least to try to begin to think about opening our hearts to the possibility of facing all of the differences in the world with love, not violence? What would it take to further develop this spirit of service for brave souls to follow?
Thank you to everyone who has responded to the call to sacrifice life and limb. I am grateful for your courage, and I promise that I'll do all I can (tiny as that may be) to make sure that your efforts have not been in vain.
This one's dedicated to my father, my uncles, my step grandfather (Papa), my sister-in-law's grandfather, their colleagues and friends.