Thursday, January 17, 2008

War, what is it good for?

My father once started the ROTC classes that he taught with the above song. He then went on, I suppose, to explain what war is good for.

Most people believe war is a necessary evil. St. Augustine laid out the clauses for "just war theory." Everyone will admit that war is terrible, but few will admit there is any other way. Tonight the husband and I watched Charlie Wilson's War, a fascinating look at the real life senator who snowballed a small op in Afghanistan to a mighty blow against the communist empire. It was slick and intriguing; well-penned by West Wing's Aaron Sorkin-- but did not glamorize the conflict. At least not the death toll on the Afghani side. Mangled children litter the screen, Tom Hanks is lifted up as the man who will aid these fallen angels in the best way possible-- giving them guns to shoot down those communist bastards.

And they are bastards, right? Our first view of these villains is a scene of helicopters piloted by young men who love to kill Afghani civilians and even more treacherously, not commit to their girlfriends. You'd never guess that these are also fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. That's the terrible truth of war. Every person killed is someone. Statistics can be ignored, but if that was your husband, or mine, that truth would become all too real.

Christmas in London the stores blare the same few Christmas Brit-pop songs over and over again. I was at first struck by the irony that Boots was pushing John and Yoko's "So this is Christmas" with the stinging bridge "...war is over, if you want it." There was a time when I smiled patronizingly at such lovely Lennonisms, even though my compassionate and sensible friend holds the song "Imagine" to heart. But this is also a simple truth: if the majority of people in the world said "no" to war, stood together and said we refuse to solve problems through murder, we could have peace.

Impossible? Well, you may say that I'm a dreamer....

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