By John Mauer
War is a disease. War is not the people who fight each other, nor the people who started the action or responded to it, nor the people who oppose it. War infects the human mind, reaching emotional peaks well past reason. Yet, the body of mankind is not at fault any more than one person is at fault for the common cold. A prayer for peace is a prayer for health of the human body, not a usurpation of human actions.
We each have our own odyssey in life over the course of years. War impinges on more images than is usually thought. I’ve been a peace advocate for most of my time, except at the extremes of defense, due to my own journey through life. Yet, the inconsistencies of the anti-war label have dogged me throughout.
My early years occurred during that freedom that men and women found after the end of the disease known as World War II. The freedom was short lived. My uncle, who served in the army from 1939 until 1945, had 5 years and 9 months in his six year reserve commitment finished when President Truman called up the reserves for the Korean War. That call up destroyed his business and his personal life; my grandparents never forgave Truman. How many other lives fell to the disease of war in that time?
In my teenage years, I attended a Friends School near Philadelphia. I learned firsthand about the pacifism of the Quakers (and so can appreciate the actions of Jacob Bull in our own town during the Revolution). While I did not follow in their footsteps, I did come to understand the separation of the disease, war, from its victim, mankind. Toward the end of that time, President Johnson promised never to involve our country in military action in Vietnam; he was reelected. He had lied, starting the Vietnam War two years later. Yet Johnson, even in his culpability, was a victim to the disease. How many other lives fell to the disease of war in that time?
Add to this the most annoying symptom of the disease of war, the bludgeon of anti-war protests. Some such protests are indeed genuine peace protests, concerned with the disease of war itself. But many are media shows aimed at nothing more than political gain and media sales. Our current crop of anti-war protestors were not that at all, but anti-Republican protestors; see the picture of an anti-war protest in Kent in 2008 complete with placard supporting the Democratic candidate for U.S.Representative. Should these people be ashamed of themselves? Of course they should, for they were and are tainted by war as much as any leader.
If you don’t believe that, where are the anti-war protests today? Anti-war who? From the copperheads of the Civil War who bedeviled Lincoln to the treason artists of the Vietnam War to yesterday’s wannabes, war infects the political part of our society easily. So today, the current wars are still there and expanding; the political protests are not.
Our society defends itself with free speech. However, due to our media, how much of our speech is free? Anti-war who?