The Other Side of War

 

Brainwashed,

raped and tortured,

“Collateral Damage”

hidden behind lies

and barbed wire.

Children screaming,

minds of young men poisoned,

bodies of young women polluted –

youths too young to know

there is no difference

between

hero and  victim –

all sacrificed wantonly

by Game Players whose

unconscious will dominates

those in power

driven by the Merciless Machine.

 

The other side of war

calls for accountability –

Not just by those in power

but by each individual

who has the courage

to stand in the ugly truth

of what we don’t want to know:

That turning a blind eye

upon atrocity

is murder too.

We are all responsible –

Not just the soldiers

who have no one

to advocate

for their humanity

who lie keening in foxholes

as they face the unspeakable.

This is “The Other Side of War.”

Postscript: I wrote this poem as a form of protest a few years ago after my grandson had been inducted into the Marines at seventeen. His parents supported this choice which frankly horrified me. Drew was fortunate and only yesterday at 22 was finally released. He was one of the lucky ones that spent five years in the Marines and didn’t have to deal with actual combat. Last night I took down the ribbon I had hung in my house in his honor, folding it and putting it away. Grateful that I could do so without anguish, but unclear and uneasy as to how this experience will effect him…

After being asked to read this poem at a gathering a couple of years ago and having folks ask me to send them copies, I sent my poem to a number of papers to publish on Memorial Day weekend and no one would accept it.

As a culture we are addicted to war/killing and must have young men and women to wound and kill the “enemy,” regardless of how innocent the other may be. We use our young people likes pawns in a game that never ends though many lives are lost.

Every time I see another American flag being waved, all I think of is the other side of war.

2nd postscript: This morning I read an article written by Carol Christ who defines patriarchy as “a system of male dominance rooted in the ethos of war…which legitimizes violence, sanctified by religious symbols… in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men…”. Christ helped me to understand why I had to write this poem.

3rd postscript: Carol Christ also asks an important question when she asks if we have to end war to end violence against women. She writes” In societies where the violent behaviors of warriors are celebrated and in which soldiers who have been trained in the methods of violence come home it is unlikely that anyone can eradicate rape and violence against women.” Although my grandson did not endure actual combat he was trained in the ways of war, and who knows how this training will shape the way he will live the rest of his life.

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