Saturday, December 10, 2016

America's wars changed this Southern boy forever


Why, yes, of course I'm glad I immigrated to Canada from the US Deep South when I did (October 2005).  It was the right decision for me and my family; and the best thing I've ever done; even if many years too late.

But it was a lot more than simply a change of residence.  It marked a change in me; who I choose to be, and how I choose to live the remainder of my life.  And, as strange as this sounds, I have to credit America's headlong foolish rush into a series of unnecessary wars for that change in me. Without the wars; I'd have remained the man I was, "happy as a pig in slop" as they say in Alabama.  
 
Too often. people told me that I should "get over it."  In other words, return to who (or even where) I was before.  Never.  
 
I remain absolutely antiwar, but America's wars aren't what's important; they only reveal the truth about Americans. The wars didn't change most Americans like they changed me; they only brought to the surface, and made visible, what was already there.  Something I discerned for the first time; something I want absolutely no part of.

And to those who say, "What have you accomplished, what have you changed?", I'd say this:  I changed the most important thing of all.  In the end, the most important thing I did, and certainly the most difficult, was this:  I changed myself.

Here's the bottom line:  I will no longer give my unquestioning allegiance to politicians, to institutions, to political parties, and to religious leaders, especially those who have betrayed my loyalty and trust.  I'll go with my gut from now on.  All morality is ultimately individual.  Allowing institutions to define moral behaviour for us, refusing to live by a personal standard, is not merely "amoral" ... it is immoral.  It is a choice to abandon morality as a basis for one's actions and to yield the moral responsibility for one's choices to another person or an institution.

By the way, where were America's churches when all this went down?  Most (at least in the Bible Belt) were in lockstep with the national sentiment of hate-filled desire for blood ... for vengeance. Their role was to assure Americans that evil had God's "stamp of approval."  That was a lie ... a blasphemous lie, and I'm using the term "blasphemous" both literally and accurately.

The wrong choices that most Christians made were made because they were easy to make.  In my opinion, the right choice for Christians should never been an easy one.  The basic tenet of the Christian faith is love for others, and Christians should be immune to all appeals to the basest emotions of humans (hate, envy, greed, prejudice, and the desire for vengeance).  They were not, because society had made the wrong choices easier; the right choices (like speaking out against evil-doers) very, VERY difficult 15 years ago.

Why do I kick against a stone wall?  I guess I'm actually trying to make those hard choices a little easier for others, and more socially-acceptable – choices that better society ... that better the living conditions and the prospects for the greater number.  I don't want others to have to endure the pain I have.  And, maybe along the way, I might save the lives and limbs of a few young men and women who are being used to advance the purposes of those who care nothing for them. Americans were easily led into an extended series of wars that, as most wars do, will be manifested most vividly in the blood shed by the sons and daughters of poor men serving to make rich men richer.  [the US is currently involved in direct military action in at least seven countries; four more than when President Obama took office eight years ago].  

Where were the good Americans when all this started, and when all of this could most easily have been prevented?  I believe they were learning to listen to voices that "tickle the ear." Those voices say, "The messages of peace, love, kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice and humility are old-fashioned, quaint, we can't afford them anymore.  It is your destiny to own more, and to think of yourself first ... not to worry about the plight of others or even the world you leave your children's children."  I know, because I heard that message, I heard that lie, and I loved it.  I loved it, and I lived it for 45 years. I'm no longer that man and never will be again.