In the Untied States we have Patriot’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. This weekend is Memorial Day, a day when American’s memorialize the fallen soldiers of our country. The taps will play, the flags will wave, and many BBQ in some expression of patriotism. I think?
I struggle so much with this celebration of what feels like glorifiying the fruits of war. Intellectually I know that these holidays are to serve as vehicles of reflection and celebration. But what I feel is sorrow and resounding drums of war raging in my ears. I know that may not be the popular perspective, and I honor a truth as sovereign in the argument that “war is sometimes inevitable, let’s remember to honor the dead” as separate from or not congruent as an agent of peace. There may be a potentially “higher” ground on the subject, but I can’t light candles and lift up prayers for the fallen soldiers, whom never had to fall. I can’t get behind statements like “sometimes peace is broken” because in my mind peace is never broken. Humanity is what is broken, and it is time to teach humanity that there is something other than war.
In the United States we have four holidays that lift up the fruits of warmongering juxtaposed to the one that lifts up the Earth. It is almost comical to me, that we ‘honor’ death and destruction, and continue to let the principles of Manifest Destiny lead the way. Are there soldiers fighting for freedom in patriotic sacrifice? I don’t know? This isn’t Troy or some other ancient mythic battle, if it were there would be pietas. If it were there would be the Viking Noble Virtues. If it were there would be Bushido. Rather today we live in a modern culture that has become seemingly amoral and chooses guns first and empowers a patriarchy that says, either you agree, and submit, or you’re dead. How many more times do we accept the line, “I was just following orders.” Orders in Regime Change Wars?
The irony is that as the United States makes holiday with BBQs and polyester flags (some made overseas, with
indentured labor), Earth wages the most epic battle back at us. One where guns and ammo have no effect. Where patriarchy is met with a matrifocal realism called fire, famine, and flood. The Earth continues to say no. She continues to ask us to honor Her, and align with peace.
What would our world be like if instead of depleting Her through the manufacturing of weapons, or use of fossil fuels to power vehicles of destruction, nuclear plants to poison our waters, and filling the ground with dead bodies embalmed with toxins, we chose to simply stop? Maybe that is egalitarian of me, too full of wistful idealism. I hear many saying to me now, “It is because of war, I have the freedom to even write this post.” Surely there is a truth in that.
But I want a new truth. One that teaches that conflict is resolved with love, over reaching towards violence. It is a sojourn of many, that will take many lifetimes I am sure. But that said, when we have holidays like today,
I entreat you to take the opportunity to teach your children that war is not the answer, and that peace is. That you can be a conscientious objector, and not take up arms. You can use your voice and vote this election to choose candidates who don’t lean into Regime Change Warmongering and perpetuate undue violence, xenophobia and colonization that leads to more war.
Choose Earth over War. Maybe it is as small as when camping, at the shore, or at BBQ, to reach for recyclables and not for paper plates and plastic cups. That when we ignite the flame of BBQ, we look to the most eco-sustainable charcoals, untreated woods, and lighter fluids. Let the stories be of peace around the campfires, and not on parades down Main Street, USA.
This weekend, when the fallen are memorialized, I will instead honor the death of a thing called war. I will honor the spirit of the fallen trees, the polluted lakes, the melting icecaps and the burning fires. My magic will be magic for peace, and a plea that Earth continues to entertain our ignorance and lead us into a new future. The choice is always ours. Today I choose to be a patriot for peace and Earth’s soldier of Peace.