My responsbility for the war in Iraq
Dear Friends and Family,
I was deeply touched recently by a book called “At Hell’s Gate – A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace.” The author of this book (Claude Anshin Thomas) describes in detail the suffering he has experienced as a Vietnam vet.
The description of his suffering made me look more deeply into the experiences of a soldier. I tried to imagine how it would feel to be trained as a killer at the age of 18. How it would feel to kill another human being. How it would feel to watch my friends die in front of me, or to watch children die as a result of the military action in which I was involved. How it would feel to live in fear of violent death on a day-to-day basis.
Looking deeply at these things helped me to understand the suffering on a different level. I realized, for example, that I could not even begin to think of how I would reconcile the thoughts and emotions around killing another human being, let alone many human beings. I know that labeling the people I killed as “enemy” would not bring me comfort in the long run. I know the energy of those actions would continue with me in some form as long as I lived.
The author of this book also offers his opinion that the United States, as a people, never really took responsibility for the Vietnam war. Most people viewed the war as distant and unconnected to their day-to-day lives. They did not recognize that it was their lifestyles that supported the institutions of war. And, for the most part, they did not offer support for the veterans of the war, or for the victims of the war in Vietnam.
All of this got me to thinking about the war in Iraq, and my connection to that war. I realize that I have not really taken responsibility for my connection to that war. I follow the news about Irag, and frown at it. I think from time-to-time about the tragedy of the war, and how I disagree with the US government’s position on the war.
But I haven’t really done anything about it. My lifestyle has not changed one bit since the war started. I have not had to make any sacrifices as a result of the war. I have not attempted in any way to help those who have been impacted by the war. And I haven’t gotten involved in the political process to help shape the US government’s position on the war.
So, I’ve decided that it is time for me to do a few things with respect to the war in Iraq, and I want to share them with you.
First, I am determined to keep in touch with the suffering of the US service men and women in Iraq and with the suffering of the Iraqis and others impacted by the war. This does not mean that I can’t enjoy my idyllic life in Boulder, or that I should be remorseful or angry. But it does mean that I need to cultivate a sense of connectedness to what is happening. And, I will try and find a way to have some direct interaction with those who are suffering.
Second, I am determined to find a way to help those who are impacted by the war. I will need to explore this in coming months, but it will at least include donating time and/or money to charities that are involved in assisting veterans and Iraqis. If you have any ideas in this area, I would like to hear about them.
Finally, I am determined to get more involved in the political process in the US. I am still feeling my way around this one, as I don’t want to create more aggression through political action. I do not believe in denouncing others for their views. I am not interested in action that encourages anger or division. For the time being, it seems the first step in this area is to make sure that I vote. As people are suffering deeply in the name of my freedom, it seems that I should exercise that freedom by voting. It is also certain that the next president will influence what happens in Iraq, and so I should take a position on who I think that person should be (and, consequently, what should happen in Iraq).
Also, for the first time, I made a campaign contribution to a presidential candidate. For good or bad, the media tracks the amount of money and number of contributors for presidential candidates. These figures help to determine their assessment of who has “momentum,” which I think influences how people vote. So, I think even small contributions can be meaningful.
I’d be interested in any thoughts you might have on these issues, and thanks for listening.
Bruce D. Campbell, P.C.
1507 Pine Street
Boulder, CO 80302