Why?

“War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse…There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander”.  – Hawkeye from the TV program MASH

I’m having a challenging time letting God off the hook. I know according to the Bible the root cause of war and suffering is the “man’s inhumanity to man” thing but according to the Bible, God created “the heavens and the earth” along with puppy dogs and pink flamingos. He also gave us the free will to eviscerate and dismember our enemies and in the Old Testament seems content to do it himself. Doesn’t he have to take some credit for the pain and suffering?

Despite the “Dude” whispering for me to “abide” I asked my deity that very question this morning. I was greeted as always with silence.

I have this thing I do. Wake up, pee, breakfast, and then head outside and focus on some heavenly body. It was foggy so I looked in the general direction of Venus and prayed.  I gave thanks for my many blessings, enumerating some. I asked for blessings for family and friends, and asked forgiveness for “sins real and imagined, past and future”. It is much easier than enumerating them all.  

From there I have a one-sided conversation about whatever is bothering me. This morning, war was bothering me along with its dose of pain and suffering. I couldn’t help but ask, “Why?”

Silence. Neither beast nor fowl interrupted my train of thought. Even the calliope of swamp frogs from the night before had fallen silent. I paused to give thanks the silence wasn’t being interrupted by bombs, artillery shells, cruise missiles, and nuclear weapons. I was thankful the silence had not been interrupted by pain and suffering.

I know “the wages of sin” and all. According to a video game, Diablo, “the wage of sin is war.” It seems men like Vladimir, or Adolf, or Joseph, or Pol can escape their wars and must wait for eternal damnation to reap their just wages.  Even little Adolf sent himself to his just rewards. Little Suzy Q on the other hand gets her fingernails pulled out or incinerated from hell fire reigned from above by human demons in flying machines.

Did we learn from you, God? I’m thinking the Sodom and Gomorrah thing and the number of battles waged in your name and by your command.

I do know it is a human failing but again I ask “Why?” Is this just because Adan accepted the apple from Eve? Does this have to do with our original sin…” St. Augustine where are you when I need you?” You are as silent as God but then you are dead.

While I’m rambling, how many wars have been fought over “my god is better than your god” and how many have died thinking that “God is on my side?”  God, it seems like you attract war and suffering, and my grandmother told me that “you will be judged by the company you keep”. An argument might be waged that you could be a warmonger by the company you keep. Even in Exodus it says, “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.”

More whys? Why does the Old Testament God seem so hateful compared to the New Testament God? Why does he annihilate rather than use diplomacy? I’m certainly not a theologian so I consulted Google and picked several well-known theologians. I read your words Billy Graham. Well, that wasn’t productive. Context? Wrath and vengeance taken out of context. I don’t know. If it looks like a duck….

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with anymore whys. I’ll leave that with you and your God, god, or gods. Maybe they will answer your “Whys”. Questions but no answers and the silence is deafening.

Don Miller’s latest literary masterpiece, “Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes”, may be purchased in paperback or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09GNZFXFT/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

“Celebrating” Memorial Day

 

Grills will be lit; beer will be iced.  Pool parties will be scheduled.  Many will celebrate a three-day weekend.  Many will not consider, “What cost?”

Memorial Day is a remembrance of horror; the costs of war, in blood and bone, in flesh, in broken bodies and minds.  It is a remembrance of loss.  The day should not be a celebration but too many of us treat it as if it was.

We have fallen in love with the idea of war.  We have been at war for far too long.  I was born during the Korean “Conflict”, came of age during the Cold War and Vietnam.  I have lived through too many wars, lived through what has become almost continuous.

We glorify our military conquests and denigrate anything other than total victory.  Memorial Day should be a sobering recognition of what glorification cost instead of a drunken celebration of war.

Local VFWs and other veterans’ groups will sponsor parades and tributes to our fallen heroes.  Old men in ill-fitting uniforms will stand at attention saluting as marching bands play.  Small flags will flutter in front of grave markers and trumpets will sound over cemeteries in villages, towns and cities alike.

TMC will broadcast an all-day marathon of war movies featuring brave men dying for a cause.  We should remember, these matinée idols are playing a role; the men and women they portray did not get to go home after a day in front of a camera.  Many of these roles never came home at all and no one is left unscathed when the battle is over.

For those who returned, far too many servicemen and women came home having left a part of themselves on battlefields around the world.  In deserts and swamps, they left more than their footprints, they left a piece of their humanity and a bit of their sanity.  War is not always a noble enterprise even though most of the men and women who fight it are quite noble and brave.  War is not a movie on a screen.

I once enjoyed watching movies with John Wayne facing down the enemy.  Sitting with my father, a World War Two veteran, the Sunday Matinee might offer “The Fighting Seabees”, “The Sands of Iwo Jima”, “Flying Leathernecks”, “In Harm’s Way”, “The Horse Soldiers” and “They Were Expendable”.  The craggy-faced, steely-eyed hero squinting down his gun barrel, facing insurmountable odds and yet somehow prevailing…too often at the cost of his own life but never at the cost of his humanity.  His bravery displayed in technicolor on the silver screen.

I have become a pacifist.  I never intended to be one, it just happened.  As a youth, I was gung-ho with my mother’s metal mixing bowl upside down on my head, defending the red clay hill behind my house against the enemies of the “American Way” with my Mattel Thompson machine gun.

I know in my Autumn years I’ve become just that, a pacifist.  I suspect my course of study in college, Kurt Vonnegut, the effects of living through the Vietnam War years and an almost continuous series of military conflicts during my lifetime are to blame for my change.  Too many dead, too many broken.

War, policing actions or skirmishes are all the same to the dead and wounded.  Young people fighting old men’s wars.  The poor fighting for the rich.  All dying for ideology, religion or to line the pockets of those who benefit from the business of war.  I have become quite cynical and am not apologetic.

I was a participant in the first Vietnam draft lottery, my brass ring was number two hundred seventeen.  I say brass ring because the number was never called.  I knew I was a coward and didn’t want to go fight in Southeast Asia or anywhere else for that matter.  I also knew I would be the bravest coward in the world if called up.  I would go and fight if asked to.  I could do nothing else.  I would do what was expected by friends, family and my nation.  I wonder how many called to fight felt the same way.  How many were called up and went because it was expected? I felt I must have been the only one.

We have become too fond of war.  We eat and digest the propaganda.  War makes too many people rich, too many people powerful…too many people dead.

We have a love affair with our expensive and destructive toys of war.  The one percent pushing the ninety-nine percent to the brink.  Pulling our six-guns and coming out blazing.  Let God sort it out in the end because diplomacy doesn’t make enough money.

The greatest “celebration” to our fallen would be to end the killing and bring our people home, ceasing to create more fallen.  But there is no money to be made in bringing our people home and we learned from Vietnam, there can be no hint of defeat.  I fear we will continue to memorialize until there is no one left.

As an anonymous philosopher once posed, “War does not determine who is right — only who is left.”   I visualize a lone man celebrating victory as the world burns around him.

Yes, I am cynical…and quite morose this morning.  I can think of no better way to “celebrate” Memorial Day.

To those who serve, to those who have given all, to those who have lost their loved ones, you have my gratitude and I hope, the gratitude of a nation.

The image of Arlington Nationa Cemetary courtesy of https://www.military.com

Don Miller’s author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM