This is a comment by Kirsten on the post “What do Pacifists do on Memorial Day?“
I would not say I am a pacifist by a long shot, but I do believe the use of violence should be reserved to situations of defense (such as deterring violent criminals) and consent (such as in sports). I think James Garner’s character Charlie in “The Americanization of Emily Arthur Hiller” had it right on Memorial Day:
“I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it’s always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades … we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It’s the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows’ weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices.”
“May be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution.”
Yesterday, I didn’t honor the institutionalized violent aggression that has been perpetrated on my tax dollar and in my name. Instead, I worked my volunteer shift at a food pantry. I didn’t kill anyone. I didn’t celebrate anyone killing anyone else. I didn’t honor those who died in the pursuit of killing. I worked for what I believe in as I try to do every day.
And no, none of the fraudulent wars of aggression that have been endlessly conducted in my lifetime did a damned thing to protect my ability to do so. In fact, if we weren’t hell bent on bankrupting our country by taking money out of working folks’ pockets—and therefore food off their tables—I might have fewer customers at the food pantry on Mondays.
Photo credit: Flickr / Maryland National Guard