On a previous post I gave an outline of why I think the pacifist case deserves more hearing; it was hard to read, as some of you commented, because it was an outline and a series of questions. Someday I’ll fill it in. Last night I got home from LA to find this long comment on that post by Karen Spears Zacharias, whose book (Hero Mama) I have urged on others to read, and it is worth putting here:
I have just returned from the Miami Book Fair and am taking the time to catch up on the blog posts. I knew the question of when is sacrifice worth it would be asked. Miami is a city filled with folks who value freedom in a passionate way. Freedoms they exercise. They read. They vote. And they think for themselves. Living under Castro as they did and as their families still do, they believe that freedom is something worth fighting for. So I was anticipating the remark of one Cuban man: “Sorry for your father’s death. But when do you think such a sacrifice is worth it? Or do you?”
Sitting next to me was my friend and fellow author Mirta Ojito, author of Findina Manana, an excellent book about her family’s move to the US during the 1980s boatlift. I know how precious Mirta’s freedom is to her. She was rescued from the waters by a Vietnam veteran. So that binds us even more.
But my answer was this: “Is it freedom if it is forced upon you? Doesn’t freedom have to be something you yourself are willing to die for?”
And of course the bigger issue is this: The war in Iraq was never about freedom.
It was sold to this nation on the basis of fear. We went to war because we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction that Saddam intended to use against us.That morphed into revenge for 9-11. When that water pail began to leak, then, and only then did the rhetoric take on this chest-beating bravado of providing freedom for all people. On Veterans Day I heard a mother of a soldier killed in action state that we have a moral obligation to bring freedom to all the oppressed people in the world. Well, where do we start? The streets of LA, Chicago, or the Sudan? What about China? And there’s still all those people in Cuba. We don’t have the manpower to take on every dictator. So where does our obligation end? And what sort of freedom do we owe others? Financial? Physical? Emotional? Spiritual?
As the daughter of a soldier killed in action, I can’t help but consider that while my father was out reportedly “freeing” the Vietnamese, his sacrifice propelled our family into a bondage that we could not escape without the Grace of God.
I read yesterday that the actor Bruce Willis intends to make a movie that will glorify the sacrifices of the Deuce Four unit in Iraq. I met Willis last month at the Deuce Four Military Ball in Tacoma. My nephew, David, named for my father, was part of that unit. They just returned from Mosul. I gave Willis a copy of HERO MAMA in hopes that he would read it and consider the cost of war on a family. Instead of reading something that might change his chestbeating war cries, Willis will make a movie that continues to perpetuate the myth that war is about men on the battlefield. When in truth, the real war takes place behind closed doors in America’s suburbs as spouses and children struggle to cope with their grief and war’s choatic aftermath.
We must remember that true and undefiled religion is to care for widows and children during their time of distress. That doesn’t mean the first six weeks. That means the years of loneliness and hardship that always follows a soldier’s death.
My friend Destre lost his father when he was 5. Destre sums it up this way: You think it’s only one person dying but if that person is part of your family, it’s really frustrating.
I’m not willing to say a soldier’s death is never worth the cost. But I am saying that this war in Iraq, like the one in Vietnam, was ill-conceived, and a shameful, immoral war. That doesn’t diminsh the value of the soldiers who have given their lives and limbs. They answered a call to duty with honor and devotion. But the question remains whether that call should have ever been placed.