It’s beyond obvious that – as a nation – we’re no stranger to war, what with the American Revolution and subsequent War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and – most recently – the wars in Iraq (not to mention Desert Storm) and Afghanistan.
Those, however, are what I like to call our “common-definition wars.” You know, the ones you read about, studied and analyzed in high school and college as a student. And really, they’re only the tip of the iceberg when you consider the number of wars we’ve waged (and continue to wage) that have nothing (at least sometimes) to do with guns, uniforms, tanks, missiles and the like.
Not sure what I’m rambling about? How about our continued failure as the wars on drugs, illegal immigrants, poverty, terror, gang violence, hunger, homelessness and so many more I could name wage on and on, with no definitive end in sight. And I’ve got a secret for you, this trend of failure won’t end any time soon. Why? Because these wars, like far too many, cannot be won.
Violence begets violence, as they say, and each and every one of these wars either stems from, leads to or are sustained by, you guessed it, violence. Unfortunately, it’s simply human nature. We’re a violent race, made up of violent societies, it’s just how it is.
Now some people might look at that list of ongoing “wars” and say, “What’s he talking about? There’s nothing violent about the wars on poverty, hunger or homelessness.”
Tell that to the thousands of people, including women and children, starving in east Africa (or all over the world, for that matter) right this very minute – namely in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya – thanks to the worst drought in over 50 years. And don’t give me the lame response that they should simply move on to “greener pastures,” because they can’t. Believe it or not, east Africa has very little in common with America. People can’t simply pack up and start over somewhere else, what with the border violence so prevalent in many parts of Africa.
And really, when you get right down to it, poverty, hunger and homelessness here in the USA is class warfare at its best. The rich get richer and the poor stay poorer. Just look at the numbers if you don’t believe me. An extremely small percentage of our country’s population just happens to have their hands on a ridiculously large percentage of our country’s wealth (meaning most of it).
As I said, class warfare at its best, and it’s not going to change anytime soon, I’m sad to say. Gang violence isn’t all that surprising when you look at those numbers either. Poor, uneducated youth are drawn to gangs for a number of reasons, I’m sure, yet I’m also fairly certain that a lack of education, poverty, hunger and homelessness contribute mightily to its popularity among those lowest on the totem pole, if you get my meaning.
The war on drugs is especially frustrating, in my opinion. Since its inception in the early 1970s (thanks so much President Nixon), there’s been very little in the way of progress, and that’s putting it mildly. All the while, millions upon millions, if not billions or trillions in taxpayer dollars have been wasted (something our government, no matter your political affiliation, seems really good at).
And then there’s our continued war on terror, which is kind of an oxymoron when you think about it. War is hell, right? War is terrible, right? So how can you wage a war on terror when war, in and of itself, is terrifying? The term fits right in there with others of its kind: war games, weapons of peace, voluntary taxes, working vacations and – my personal favorite – the wisdom of Congress (now that’s funny).
And here’s another little spoiler for you. The war on terror, as currently defined and understood by the masses, absolutely, positively cannot be won. Not in any way. As long as you have organized religion, which I doubt is going anywhere any time soon, you will have extremists on every side whose only goal is the destruction and death of those deemed unworthy, unholy or sacrilegious in any way. Read up on your history and you’ll know this to be true.
Here’s one more oxymoron (I love that word) for you ... a peaceful revolution. As a pacifist of sorts, I hate to admit such a thing doesn’t exist. As a realist of sorts, I’m afraid that’s the case, however. We’re in a downward spiral here, sadly, and seeing as how those in power are more interested in their own personal gain and various agendas, it seems that’s not going to change any time soon.
In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Or maybe George McGovern had it right when he said, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”
Actually, my favorite comes from singer-songwriter Joan Baez. “If it’s natural to kill, how come men have to go into training to learn how?”
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