This Memorial Day I’ve desire to do something disruptively different, let me explain.
In High School History class, we learned about many of the wars we have been involved in. The war, which cause my world to be disrupted, was Vietnam.
I can remember spending weeks in class, discussing the Vietnam War. I can remember out teacher told us, Vietnam was the first war televised on a regular basis. It was the first war where Network News, posted Troop losses each evening, and pictures of American Soldiers, coming home in flag draped coffins, were released on a regular basis. Because of those pictures, and the daily feed of facts concerning dead soldiers, people started to call for the end of the war; the peace movement caught hold.
I remember thinking, why didn’t the pictures of innocent lives carpet bombed by napalm effect people sooner? Why didn’t the pictures of US planes, defoliating mass areas with cancer causing poisons effect people sooner?
Studying the Vietnam War caused me to believe, no war in history has ever brought a lasting peace – no war. All war has done, is killed innocent people, caught in the field of fire. Today, we send in drones to kill one suspected terrorist, and kill dozens of innocent children in the process.
Sociologists define a war as, any active conflict which has claimed 1,000 lives, or more; I guess, when you’re one of the 999 people killed in a skirmish, you don’t count. If we assume the 1,000 limit is fair, we’ve had too many wars during our collective history, too many. The New York Times estimates, over the past 3,400 years of human history, we’ve only experienced peace for 268 years. If we count the under 1,000 death requirements, the number of years we have been in war could be higher.
While claiming to be a Christian Nation, the USA has consistency been at war since its conception. Remember, the USA was born out of war, we like to call it a Revolution, because I guess Revolution sounds respectable.
This begs the question, how long has the USA been involved in a war?
Over our 241 year history, the USA have been at war for 219 of those years, or just about 91% of the time. Some might argue, many of those wars were Just Wars. A Just War? From whose point of view?I’m not big on the Just War Theory, we have used it as a excuse to attack others; there is no way anyone could argue 219 years of war is Just.
If you’re a solider, you made the decision, good or bad is not the issue, to fight in a war, it’s your job. But those living in the middle of a war, did not make that choice. For me, the largest concern falls upon us when we think in terms of the innocent lives lost; entire families, lost in the battles of others, simply because they live in an area some General decided to take. When I’ve had this conversation with many in the USChurch, they always remind me, No one is innocent, we’re all born sinners. This response to the innocent dying during war, turns my stomach. If you honestly believe no innocent person dies in war, you are either trying to mislead yourself, or you’re lying; either way.
So, how many innocent people died in our Just Wars?
To give you the scope of death, during the 20th century, it is estimated over 100 million innocent people have died in war. Think of it this way, 100 million would be one-third the population of the USA; or just under the entire population of Italy, and France combined. To make it a little closer to home, it would be just short of the entire populations of Nebraska, California, Texas, Nevada, and Arizona, combined. It has been estimated, over the 3,132 years of war in human history, over a billion-innocent lives have been lost because of wars.
This Memorial Day, I want to remember those innocent lives lost in humanities desire for control, its desire to remove anyone who thinks differently. I want to remember, those who lost their lives, so others could get rich.
[This article is a small part of the chapter “Disruptive Peace” [rough draft] from my next book, DISRUPT: Everything Changes, coming in November 2017]