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War Is Not Healthy For Children

By 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.  

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Reader Comments

Name: Dr. Larry Semark Email: lrobse@yahoo.com
Comment: Great article. Please continue to share your views on the horror of war. Larry

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Name: anne lolotai Email: lolotaan@yahoo.com
Comment: for the sake of my grandchildren, please choose peace.

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Name: Paul J. Leadem Email: pleadem@msn.com
Comment: P.S. I took a lot of heat for my article, "War and Peace in the Middle East," including being called " a bleeding heart dunce." FOR THE RECORD: My father served in the Navy in World War One. My brothers Ed, Joe, and John Served during WWII (two in the Navy, one in the Army. My brother Frank served as a foot soldier in the Korean War. I served in the Air Force after that war, so I guess I'm not a real Veteran--I was an Officer. Following military service, I became a career officer in the CIA and served my country for twenty-seven years, including serving with the military (as a civilian, but under military command). I served during the Vietnam War. I am not a pacifist or "appeaser." I know something about "War and Peace." * *

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Name: Paul J. Leadem Email: pleadem@msn.com
Comment: An excellent and heartfelt commentary. Thank you LC. Musing in verse, but not amusing: 2003 A.D. (ANNO DOMINI) Oh say can you see In the year of Our Lord 2003 Are we filled with delight Or getting ready to fight Will the rockets red glare The bombs bursting in air So soon be the thing That 2003 will bring We are taken aback By the thug in Iraq Will we try a new tack Or just simply attack What happened to Peace on Earth And what is that worth Will it soon come again By the killing of men Or is there another way That we may try today To change the way we think And step down from the brink Would we rather shake our fist Then be called a pacifist Even though most of us abhor Our nation beginning another war We are still the land of the free And are we any less brave For beginning two thousand and three Hoping that Peace we can save Do we need to kill innocent souls To achieve obsolete geopolitical goals We learned that hard lesson in Vietnam then Yet we seem to be ready To do it again Our situation is not the same Now it is terrorism and Saddam to blame Yet there has to be a better way To deal with what we face today There were wise men then And there are wise men now We didn't listen then But can we change somehow Please Lord show us the Way To find Peace on Earth In Our World Today Paul Joseph Leadem

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