How rich we would be without war
Have you pondered that question too? This is a democracy, and we have an immense war machine including hundreds of bases and soldiers about the world that our defense secretary says can't be financially reduced; we need to spend at least a minimu...
Have you pondered that question too? This is a democracy, and we have an immense war machine including hundreds of bases and soldiers about the world that our defense secretary says can't be financially reduced; we need to spend at least a minimum percentage increase for inflation.
Two signs on the rear of my car carry this message, "War is not the answer." I didn't think that when in 1943, 19-years-old, when I enlisted in military service in Eau Claire. WWII was the order of the day. What has happened to my thinking since?
When we bombed Hiroshima, I accepted the reasoning that it would save lives in the long run as we would have to invade Japan and many more people would be killed.
It was much later I learned that we did have another option. Japan wanted to keep their religious leader; we dissented, although later allowed it. We demanded unconditional surrender. We had broken their code and knew they were ready to surrender, but we decided to drop the bomb for an earlier end of the war. The horror of the extensive damage that I heard and saw pictured in Hiroshima and Nagasaki eventually dimmed.
A recent article from a Unitarian Universalist publication resurfaced that ancient happening. Bill Sinkford, former president of the UUA association and now senior minister of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, reported on a trip to Japan and his visit to the Tsbaki Grand Shrine. He visited with Mr. Feruta, retired nuclear physicist and Chair of the Grand Shrine's Board. Rev. Sinkford had previously visited Hiroshima and asked Mr. Feruta how the Japanese people were able to forgive America for dropping that bomb. This was Mr. Feruta's response:
"We were able to forgive you because we have come to see the bombs, finally, as a blessing. Japan was on a dangerous course in those days. If America, if you, had not dropped the bombs and ended the war, we would have continued on that path. We would still be a militaristic nation, searching always for more raw materials, more territory, more glory. If you had not dropped those bombs, we would have become you ... and it would have crippled our spirit."
Forgiveness helps but further hardens my opposition to our present war machine predicament. We haven't heeded President Eisenhower's dire warning about the Military Industrial Complex and now it has us at its mercy. Our corporations build war machinery and sell them all over the world. Sub-contractors have been politically located about the U.S. in voting districts of important U.S. government officials. Those jobs have become most important. And now to add insult to injury, our Supreme Court has given corporations the right to spend election campaign money, privately, as individuals can.
Corporations have money in quantities that can't be matched by individuals as was dramatically demonstrated in our last election.
The American Friends Service Committee has calculated what the $1 million we spend a year, for each soldier in Afghanistan would provide for services here at home:
Affordable homes for nine families, salaries for 17 school teachers, school lunch for 1,602 children, health care for 528 children and four-year Pell grants for 48 college students and more.
What type blessing can we look forward to? Maybe that was what Wilfred Owen meant when he wrote the poem he titled, "Soldier's Dream:
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted every bayonet with his tears.
And there were no more bombs, of ours or theirs,
Not even an old flint lock, not even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he'd seen to our repairs.
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org .