War Is Not Healthy For Children
LC Van Savage
Thereís been an awful lot of talk about war these days, as you well know. War just seems to be a way of life in our world, doesnít it? I mean itís been going on since literally forever and we simply canít seem to cease and desist our warring. We win, we lose, and we just keep on doing it. It seems that no world or local problems can be solved unless people kill each other in some sort of a big fracas, right? I wonder why that is. Is it our destiny? Our inescapable doom? Do we all secretly love war? Iíll bet that every single person whoís ever lived has had some family member affected by war somehow and somewhere.
I was recently driving past some sign carrying protesters, a tiny group of stalwarts objecting to the coming of war with Iraq. I asked the man I was driving with what he thought of them, and he said in disgust, "Well, theyíll be the first to come screaming for help when the bombs drop on their homes."
I wish I understood all this war stuff as clearly as he apparently can. I just donít, and please donít send me emails accusing me of being an ignorant, clueless, bleeding-heart liberal, tree hugging, whale saving, right-wing, left-wing, fascist, uninformed, green-party, deaf, dumb and blind hippy peacenik. Maybe I am. Maybe Iím not. If you accuse me of being any of those things, then perhaps you know more about me than I know about me. When it comes to war however, I know nothing.
I know youíll say that some wars have saved the world, that people have died for noble causes, that slaves have been freed and youíd be right. I know thereís a fair chance I would not have my good life in America had it not been for wars, but I wish this good life could have been gotten without people spilling their blood on the ground for me. But they did.
Should we wage war in Iraq? Does anyone know where that is on a map? Will it be another Viet Nam? Will the bad guys just go into hiding and wait until we leave and then quickly turn the world into hell? And who are the bad guys anyway? Are we?
What is most distressing to me about war is less the bloody horror than the impact it has on children. Havenít we all seen those stunningly horrible movies and photos of suffering children during war? They cannot find their parents, or theyíre seen screaming, clinging desperately to their parentsí corpses. They starve. They burn. They are thrown away. They are murdered. They are so frightened they shake and canít stop and canít focus and mostly canít be saved.
Please, tell me? What of the children? How will they be warm? How and what will they eat? Where will they live? Will they drink mud? Who will look after them once life as theyíve known it has been ripped from them? Will someone shoot them? And if someone does, would that be a blessing? Who will save them? What will happen to the children, the helpless? "Casualties of war," Iím told, as if itís as simple as wiping out an annoying colony of ants invading our kitchens. Who will save these innocents who did nothing to earn this, who did nothing to cause war? Because we do not know these children, because weíve never touched or seen or held them, does that make their slaughter easier to ignore?
Do you want to know how to make up your minds whether any war is a good thing? Go look at photos of children in a war, naked, bleeding, alone and screaming in the dirt and rubble. Then, mentally substitute your children or grandchildren for those kids. Have them turn their terrified, tear-streaked faces toward yours. Have them reach for you. Then decide.