War and Peace


What my mother taught me still stands true
I think Bob and I are leaving the country just in time. The election results at 7:22pm Hawaii Time are dismal. All signs point to more horror to come. It is only a matter of time before Americans are forbidden to leave the country.

I’m not saying there will be more horror ‘if Bush wins the election’ – I am saying there will be more horror regardless of who wins. Both men believe the carnage must continue. Meanwhile people continue to slap magnetic ribbons on their cars and drive off to work.

It makes me very sad to think many, if not most, Americans see war as a solution. They somehow believe we are helping stabilize and liberate the Iraq people. I wonder how many of these apparently well-meaning people are aware of just how much destruction we have caused?

According to this story in the New York Times a research team from Johns Hopkins University was able to estimate the Iraq civilian body count at 100,000 during the past 18 months.

After our commander-in-chief invaded Iraq, I didn’t want to believe that my friends and neighbors wanted anything to do with it. Many of us stood on the street with signs saying things like, “What would Gandhi do?”

My work gives me the opportunity to speak with a fair number of strangers over the phone and out in our recycling yard. Bar owners, contractors, school teachers, grandmothers, newspaper editors, tourists from abroad, retired plantation workers and the homeless. We usually talk story for a moment before they move on to their next task. Week in and week out I connect with people who all seem reasonably compassionate. Their core values resonate with mine.

Sadly, the election results are proving that a majority does, in fact, believe we must hang in there until the job is done. In other words, they believe that a little bit of violence now will prevent more violence later. Unfortunately, it has now become a lot of violence breeding even more violence.

The best analogy I can think of is this: I run with a group of teenagers who have everything. Every one of us has 5 times what the poorest kids in school have. I start hearing rumors that members of our group are pushing other kids down and taking stuff away from them. I don’t want to believe it. Finally, I see it for myself and I am shocked and repulsed.

For a while I try to convince my friends that violence is not the answer. They pretend to be compassionate but it continues. My friends begin making excuses for the bad behavior of the group. They even go so far as to imply that our group is helping the kids we have pushed around and taken things from.

“This is wrong! This is madness!” I cry. My peers look at me as if I had lost my mind. They are no longer friends. I can’t understand their logic. Finally, I do the only thing that makes sense. I leave the group.

Okay. Maybe that analogy is a bit of a stretch. How about this one: There once was an emperor who had taken to parading through the streets as naked as the day he was born. . .


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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