Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Do We Love War So Much?

Why do we love war
as much as we do?

Why are mothers and fathers
so willing to sacrifice
their only begotten children
to the idols of war
in exchange for a
brown envelope
with a government seal
and a folded flag
and a grave in
Arlington cemetery
and a burial
with full military honors
perhaps even with
a six gun salute?

Is all that
a fair exchange
for the laughter of children
for all the hugs and kisses
and other signs of affection
that only children can provide?

Does all the pomp and ceremony
make up for all of the many
missed bed time stories
the missed bed time baths
and snuggly PJs
the missed nightly prayers of
now I lay me down to sleep?

Do the pictures of our children
dressed in military uniform
(that now adorn so many
mantels and shelves in
now empty bedrooms)
somehow compensate
for the loss of youngsters
who will never be born
for all the lost grandchildren
who will never
know the joys of
asking for more
cookies and milk
for just one more
book to be read
for just one more
crayon drawing
to be finished?

Will the box filled
with ribbons and medals
and the walls decorated
with military citations
naming brave deeds performed
in so many different
foreign lands and
foreign battlefields
make up for the lost
sand lot baseball games
the skinned knees and
bruised elbows that
require a mother’s kisses
to help them heal?

Now who will run
to the door shouting
Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!
after a long day at the office
and a miserable home bound commute
through miles of stop and go traffic?

And what is to become of those
who return home
with broken bodies and
broken spirits
no longer the
healthy athletes
who marched off to war
with the blessings of
parents and teachers
ministers and priests
girl friends and boy friends
left behind
promising to write letters
every single day?

Wouldn’t it have been better
just for once
for all of us
to have been able to say
no to war?

Wouldn’t it have been better
To be able to say
just for once that
no you cannot have
my precious child
my precious flesh and blood
to send to the killing fields
of foreign lands
just to assure
the uninterrupted
flow of sweet crude oil
and the flow of war profits
into the coffers of some of
the most corrupt
corporations on earth?

Or does the sound of the bugle
and the drumbeat of the war drums
still stir our blood enough
to make us
pump out our chests
with national pride
and patriotic fervor
at enemies real or imagined
who need to be taught a lesson that
they (and we) shall never forget?

How many more villages
must we be willing to destroy
in order to save them?
And when we are done
who will be left
to save us
from ourselves?

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

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