War is ugly. Most of us learn that lesson fairly early in life as wars are played out on our television screens. I grew up with the daily Vietnam death counts. My children’s reality was a big sign on a neighborhood street proclaiming the number of Iraqi deaths that week. War is ugly. There is no getting around it, but sometimes we humans turn barbaric.
We’ve been told, time and again, that war is necessary. And yet, great minds, past and present, tell us this is not so”¦ Jesus, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi.
Why, then, do suicide bombers continue to take the lives of innocents? Why do soldiers come home with tales of babies being used as bait? Why do our own soldiers pose gleefully for pictures as they hold up body parts of the “enemy?”
We have broken our people. Time and again, around this beautiful world that our Creator has given into our care, we have broken our people.
We are born as innocents, in need of sustenance and tender care. In the constant struggle of nature versus nurture, we evolve. But what will nurture us along the way?
We see child soldiers, ripped from the wombs of their families, atrocities committed around them, by them, on a daily basis. We see families in fear for their lives, daily sustenance and safety a constant question. We see women living in terror, even their own relatives a threat to their security. And we see soldiers, young men and women full of ideals, ready to serve God and country, who see things beyond what any human should see. Their souls are torn from their bodies. Their minds are broken. Their will to survive twists into something unbelievable, despicable, frightening.
My stepdad served in two wars. He was in both World War II and Korea. We did not know he was in WWII until after he died. He never told us. It was that ugly. He could not speak of the ugliness. He kept it from his children. How he held it inside, I will never know. He was a wise, good and kind man. How? I don’t know that, either. And when I was in high school, a man from Japan came to live with us, as he and several co-workers came to learn an American business. Daddy welcomed him into our home with friendship and hospitality.
War is ugly. It tears out your soul and wreaks havoc with all that you are. Peace is stronger. It takes more work to achieve, but once we are there, it mends the soul, mends the brokenhearted, mends the rifts that have been torn asunder.
I shall be clinging to my love beads and standing vigil with those who stand for peace. Where will you be?