When I happen to mention that I am a veteran, many times I get the following lame comment - 'Thank you for your service.'
Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. What do these people think, that I go around after them picking up their garbage? What service? Service is what you get from a too-tired waitress at a truck stop restaurant at 2 in the morning when she manages to pour your coffee without spilling any on you. Good service is when she manages a smile at some lame joke you just had to tell her. Great service is when she calls you 'honey' whether you're a man or a woman. But none of that plays into the "Thank you for your service" chant.
What I hear behind the words, which is the auditory equivalent of reading between the lines, is "I'm so glad you kicked ass and put those people (____________ fill in the blank) in their place, so that we, in the snug comfort of our homes in the United States, can continue to bask in the glow of our own arrogance." What else can they be saying? I know they want to give me the line of B.S. about how grateful they are that I was "fighting for their freedom(s)". The problem with that is, that I wasn't. And neither were the other 3 1/2 million military personnel who served in the S.E. Asia Theater (including Laos & Cambodia). That so-called "war" had nothing at all to do with the freedoms of the citizens of the United States. Neither did the Korean War (which, by the way, was never declared a war). The pre-emtive invasions of Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Syria were not because of threats to freedom of the people of the United States either. So what service do those idiots think that those who serve in the military are providing them? At most it keeps the corporations and mercenaries (actually the same thing) profitable.
Representative Adam Smith responded to a letter I had written about deficit reduction and the Pentagon budget. He wrote that Congress and the Pentagon are looking at ways to reduce expenditures in that area. Here's (a very slighly edited version of ) my reply:
Dear Representative Smith,
Thank you for responding to my concerns about the Pentagon, (DOD/military budget.)
I am glad to hear that reductions in this area are being considered in Congress.
My concern is that the reductions are not enough; cutting 200 billion over 5 years is not enough for a department that uses (by some accounts) in excess of 1 trillion taxpayer dollars per year.
We need massive cuts and massive restructuring. We need cultural transformation: from militarism intent on, and based in policies of, global dominance—toward "good neighborliness" in the world.
We can no longer afford to view other lands, or people in other lands, as objects to be conquered,
We as human beings need a new way forward.
We need to consider drastic cuts to the Pentagon budget, on the order of 15 trillion over the next 20 years.
Use these monies to provide health care (first and foremost to our injured military personnel,) for re-training toward peaceful jobs in civil society, and toward full employment, based on the concept of living in harmony with the planet and with each other. (This is rather than living in adversity, against the planet, against each other.)
We can no longer afford a system where some people benefit at the expense of others.
Please, work with your colleagues in Congress to provide principled leadership, based in respect for the human rights of all people, regardless of age, gender, ability, or socio-economic status/rank, etc..
You can also encourage Barack Obama to speak up about the ongoing problems of racism in our society.
Thank you, and sincerely,
The new Percival Landing is up and running. Definitely some major improvements, like the water fountains just for one example. I walked around there a week or so ago, shortly after the grand opening. One conversation I heard was some parents apologizing to their kids that the playground wasn't ready.
The Harbor House is an interesting component. A friend asked what homeless people will think of it. Good question I think.
Here we have a nice warm room with a fireplace...on a cold winter night. Maybe ouch.
Harbor House is interesting, and despite the what some might consider lack of respect toward those of us suffering from economic (and other) hardships, I think there is still other potential for improvement.
Maybe the space could be used more of as a visitor center. Maybe even story-tellers could work there, and people could go there to learn about this area, and past events and peoples. Maybe along the lines of a welcome center.
I would suggest adding a significant indigenous component to the Harbor House. I appreciate the salmon over the fireplace. I think it would add a lot of meaning if the building would tell more of the story of the indigenous population. Who were they? What were their names? What did they do? What happened to them? Where are their ancestors now? The Harbor House might be a good location to tell some of these stories.
Part Two: Ethnic and Racial Diversity, and other thoughts about today:
I was on my way to a neighborhood in East Lacey this morning when I passed a police officer with a scowl. I wondered, was the scowl for me, or was it a general sort of scowl?
"They're fighting for our freedoms." That's one chant. As though saying it over and over and over will make it true. I have yet to get an answer from the chanters to the question, "What freedoms are they fighting for?"
Those of us who speak out against the foreign (or domestic) policies our politicians create out of whole cloth are called lots of names - traitors, unpatriotic, protestors, liberals, unamerican, ___________ (fill in the blank). There is absolutely nothing wrong with being against hate. We even have hate laws to add on if a crime is especially heinous. Yet when hate rises to the national level of invasion of another country it seems to be not only tolerated but even blessed by someone's version of some god somewhere. It's as though we haven't gotten past the superstitious phase of offering up sacrafices in order to get into heaven. What's the thought - Maybe if we kill enough non-believers Jesus will greet us at the pearly gates?
The rebuttal arguments become farcical in the side-stepping, red-herring, way they are applied to this conversation. I can't just say I'm against the use of illegal force, whether at the local or national level, without at least one comment about some hypothetical, "Well, what if it was your mother being held captive?" Or equally as silly, "If you don't like it here, why don't you leave.". Nothing about the issue.
So, corporations are now people. Seems another politician is caught lying every week. The rich get tax breaks. Fox News continues to spew garbage. And lots of people get to behave like idiots.
Someone, please. Anyone. What freedoms are we missing out on?
My letter to the editor of The Olympian was published yesterday. 250 words makes it difficult to add important details, like the effects of depleted uranium munitions. Or the fact that a very sizable proportion of homeless and indigent pupulations in this country are military veterans. You get the idea. Here's the letter, www.theolympian.com/2011/06/19/1692136/full-employment-is-possible.html:
The military provides opportunity for many people: travel, education, other experiences. In many ways, the military works pretty well as a low-barrier jobs program.
Jobs programs are good for many reasons. One is because people deserve to have jobs; in fact, people need jobs. And if all people had job security and economic stability, then life might be better for everyone.
For example, there would be less violence. One problem with the military as a jobs program is that much of the military efforts of the U.S.A. are violent and suited to serve policies of economic supremacy, to serve aggression. And in the military there is racism, and other oppression. For more information, please see www.coffeestrong.org/.
If only there was to be a jobs program capable of providing meaningful and dignified work for all seekers. If only there was a jobs program as inclusive and extensive that did not operate on a premise of nationalistic dominance. If only there was a jobs program that was not oppressive and not racist, and did not have an essential basis in the killing of human beings.
Such a program is possible, it must be. Cutting the military budget and re-directing military spending to suit peaceful purposes need not result in unemployment for current military personnel.
Speak truth to power!
Dear White House,
A foreign policy of aggression does not honor our military service personnel. We must bring troops home. We must end this international belligerence! Stop bullying!
[memorial day peace vigil video]
A couple photos and a video from the event. The Olympian also has a story, I'll put a link down below.
Sunday 22 May 2011—Members of the Olympia local and Western Washington chapters of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Veterans for Peace Rachel Corrie Chapter local 109, and many other community members built a wall out of cardboard boxes to represent the Military-Industrial Complex, and called to Turn the Budget Around—to re-direct military spending toward mutually uplifting peaceful alternatives, like schools, health care, environmental protection, and full employment.
The Wall of the Military Industrial Complex, dividing people from each other.
Artesian Rumble Arkestra adds to the festive atmosphere
I posted a report about yesterday's protest at Ground Zero, http://peacepotential.blogspot.com/2011/05/military-submarines-are-offensive.html —As an aside, I am currently being prosecuted by the Navy and DOJ on federal trespassing charges. I am accused of trespassing on federal property this past January, during the GZ MLK Jr. vigil and traditional civil disobedience activities...
p.s. next court date is June 1st
Members of the Plowshares 5 were sentenced to prison today. In November 2009, the Plowshares 5, ranging in age from their 50s to 80s, were apprehended on the Naval nuclear weapons base, Bangor-Kitsap. They were on the base to express their opposition to nuclear weapons. For the most recent information please see Disarm Now! Plowshares, or Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.