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Fistfuls of Bloody Sand – part 2 – “I stopped the war” Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)
Axis of Logic
Wednesday, Aug 3, 2016

    a bowl of green tea
    I stopped the war
              - Paul Reps
The story behind Paul Reps’ haiku is as fascinating as the little poem. In essence (and you can read it in its entirety here & the calligraphy with haiku here, he was traveling to Korea during the war, was denied passage, sat down, wrote the haiku and did the brush calligraphy of a bowl, then:
“Mindfully, he walked back to the clerk behind the counter, bowed, and presented him with his poem, and his passport. The clerk read it and looked up deeply into the quiet strength in Reps’ eyes. Smiling, he bowed with respect, picked up Reps’ visa and stamped it for passage to Korea.”
Beautiful... and if only stopping war was that easy... but it’s a start; he didn't get into a fight with the clerk; the clerk didn't have to call security; sixty-plus years later his haiku and story are inspiring this essay.
So how do I or We stop the war?
Personally I minimize usage and don’t buy gas from various corporations whose business practices and greed I abhor, e.g. BP for their Gulf of Mexico gusher and subsequent negligence, ExxonMobil Valdez for the damage to coastal Alaska and subsequent negligence, Texaco/Chevron in Ecuador for polluting the rivers and streams of the Amazon and subsequent negligence, Shell in Nigeria and a recent 'spill' in Gulf of Mexico – each case affecting many people and wildlife. Am not sure the gas I do buy is any different but am trying – because oil is one of the main reasons for war.

I also stop the war by trying to make peace with people I’ve had arguments with.

I stop the war by being as peaceful as I can be all day, every day and night. As the story about Paul Reps, written by Joel Levey, further conveys: “Outer wars and conflicts come from and mirror the inner conflicts in each of our hearts and minds. A first step toward peace is learning to recognize the outbreak of internal conflict and war in our own minds. … Learning to recognize the outbreak of internal conflict and war is a very powerful and profound art. In our work with the Green Berets we spent nearly six months helping the soldiers learn to “recognize and befriend their inner enemies” and to “recognize and stop the war inside” so that they would be able to behold what was really going on with clarity, be more mindful of their options, and make wiser choices.”

I stop the war by writing this essay.

I wrote to 'my' Congressman about stopping the war on Iraq, after 9-11, but that didn't stop that war, so I stopped writing him. So am not sure if what I do makes a difference but on some level it does (even if it only stops someone from joining a war).
There are still wars, hmmm... Perhaps there always will be some war, somewhere... people just don’t always get along. But instead of war, in some cases there's the option of walking away. Native Peoples often require 100% consensus when making important decisions. Think about that! The typical stats for a US election are 51% over 49% with maybe 50% not even voting. Think about that!

In “An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes, of the long-standing process of consensus:
“After every member of a council had had his or her say, any member who still considered a decision incorrect might nevertheless agree to abide by it for the sake of the community's cohesion. In the rare cases in which consensus could not be reached, the segment of the community represented by dissenters might withdraw from the community and move away to found a new community. This was similar to the practice of the nearly one hundred autonomous towns of northern New Mexico.” [1]
A picture is worth a thousand complaints
For all their valiant efforts, protests don’t stop wars. Wait a sec, during Vietnam it helped, and recently after perhaps a year or more of reading about demonstrations by people in Okinawa: “US military giving back 17% of occupied Okinawa land to Japanese” [2]

Yet even with small victories there is a general feeling of futility in the face of the warmongers who perpetuate war on foreign countries, out of sight, out of mind. And perpetuate violence against their own people, as example, “US police killed or injured an estimated 55,400 people in 2012.” [3]

And to attempt to startle those who don’t seem to give a damn if it’s not their kind being hurt – out of drone-bombed village children into a hospital if they’re lucky sight, out of their damned minds because people with minds don’t blow the shit out of other people in search of maybe could be alleged suspected as it’s almost always reported terrorists. Do I sound angry? Watch this 84 second trailer to find out why: "Game of Drones"

And I feel angry because war offends my sense of decency, or more specifically, I like to talk to birds and flowers and plants in my spare time and that's hard to do in a war-zone. Any terrorism, state-sponsored or otherwise, is reason for a myriad of emotions. But I don’t stay angry for long because then I might succumb to the idiocy of the warmongers. And they are idiots despite their law and whatever other degrees they have studied for. The Greek meaning of the word “idiot” from “idios ("private", "one's own")” means something like: ‘those who have strayed from the true sanctuary.’ So if it's a fascist (corporate-state) hungry ghost idiot or a desperate for a shred of meaning in an oppressed life wanting a taste of the pie extremist idiot, they are all idiots if they are making war on Mother Earth who is everyone's sanctuary.
In the 1960s it was “Make love, not war” and that seemed to help, but now there's over-population with more and more people hungry for more and more resources – and resources are the gist of wars aka greed. In book after book after article after article I’ve read for the past 15 years there is inevitably mention of a resource that is being ‘protected’ by weaponry-armed human beings.

So is it possible to quench the hunger of the hungry ghost? Nobody asked me that in school and if they had I might have figured it out by now but what's the use of complaining, that past is done; but the past, the history of when war started is not done – in fact, it's still affecting us today.

At some point somewhere, someone wanted a little more and they wanted it faster than was good for them and than was good for the rest of the someones because we're all interconnected. And that became the dominant pattern. More and faster and at the expense of another.

Then the someone wanted to protect all his stuff, yes, presumably “his” (even though it wasn't truly his), so he hired some people to guard it. Since they were a minority they were weaponry-armed. Things went along ok until they got just enough out of balance that it tipped the scale; either the someone wanted even more, or the rest of the someones were desperate for at least some of the stuff so they could survive, so a war broke out – and it doesn't matter who started it, because ego started it by first wanting more and wanting it faster and then doing something about that. It's ok to want more and to want it faster, but that doesn't mean you can determine the outcome. A plant grows in its time before yielding its gifts. But the ego wanting more, over and over and over again, becomes a hungry ghost.

Perhaps a more precise question is: How to stop the greed that leads to war?... because we can't physically stop a war because the warmongers have the machinery of war. This little essay gives a few suggestions as to how to “stop the war” and if they help you to do that, that's great, yet I encourage you to try and answer the question for yourself because it's going to take a whole lot of different answers to stop an idiotic machine that has been running on heartless auto-pilot for so long.

If this were a telegram it would end with: Peace out. Peace in. The war. Stop.

But it's not, so something more will have to suffice.

The iconic 1989 photo of a Chinese man, “Tank Man (also known as the Unknown Protester or Unknown Rebel)”, standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”) Square. In 2015, Karim Wasfi playing his cello at a Baghdad bombsite. [4]

“Colombian politicians and citizens warmly welcomed the news that the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia would sign a definitive bilateral cease-fire, marking the end of the five-decade war between the guerrillas and the state. The bilateral cease-fire announced between the government and the FARC is being widely interpreted as the end of the war.” [5]

“It was a lucky shot, some say of Nick Ut's famous Vietnam War photo The Terror of War, or Napalm Girl, as it is more commonly known. Less lucky, of course, was the little girl in the photo, Kim Phuc. She was running down the street, naked, after a napalm attack on her village. Her skin was melting off in strips. Her home was burning in the background. It was June 8, 1972. Ut was 21 years old. "When I pressed the button, I knew," Ut says. "This picture will stop the war.” ...

“Six months later, the war did stop. In January 1973, the United States, North Vietnam and South Vietnam signed the Paris cease-fire agreement. By March 30, the last American personnel left Saigon. By April, Ut had won the Pulitzer Prize. He was 22. His photo ran on the front page of practically every newspaper and magazine in the world, and is credited with swaying public opinion against the war. Time has proven it to be not only the iconic photo of the Vietnam era but also one of the most haunting and memorable of the entire 20th century.” …

“Many photojournalists were killed in Vietnam — 135 total, according to Faas' count. By Ut's estimate, 90 percent of the AP photographers who covered the war got shot while there.” [6]

And because it did help stop the war, have you noticed that the-powers-that-do have since sanitized news reporting and photography/videos. Out of sight, out of their minds.

“For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the "Vietnam syndrome," in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!"

“With George W. Bush's wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama's drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome.” [7]
The silver-lining to the Vietnam story is that the girl in the photo survived and thrives. [8]
There are organizations like Veterans for Peace, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace, and tons more. [9] Maybe the tide is turning.
Unless I can come up with a better idea, I will continue to mindfully bow to the Sun, Mother Earth, and everything and everyone in-between that is not making war, rather working to keep the rivers flowing clean, the grass growing naturally green . . .

PS – after reading the news after writing the above:

In a country whose chaos was partly sponsored by Hillary Clinton (who obscenely gloated over the killing of Gaddafi), just recently: “US Launches Airstrikes in Libya in 'Deeply Concerning' New Offensive”10

“Democrats and Republicans are controlled by banks, oil giants, insurance companies and war profiteers, says Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. …

“Speaking about the frontrunners, the Green Party candidate noted that if you “look at the track record, the terrible things that Donald Trump says – which are truly reprehensible and horrific – have actually been done by Hillary Clinton”.

“For example, she said, “on immigrants, xenophobia and hate mongering, we’ve learned that Trump and the Republicans are the party of hate and fear”. But, Stein went on, “the Democrats are the party of deportation, detentions, and night raids”.

“And the night-raiding is carried out against the women and children “who are feeling the violence that Hillary Clinton herself gave the thumbs up to with this horrific corporate coup in Honduras”.”

Yet, to paraphrase a phrase that James Carville, an aide to at that time candidate Bill Clinton, helped make famous: It's the system, stupid. As Stein shows with a geo-political koan: “Why do we have a thousand [military] bases for a hundred countries around the world? This isn’t something that other countries do.”11

Here's my photo-koan: What is the sound of one child's hand bombed-off no longer clapping?

1. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, Beacon Press, 2014, p.27.

2. “Biggest since 1972: US military giving back 17% of occupied Okinawa land to Japanese

3. “Police Are Conducting War Against The American People

4. "After car bombs explode, an Iraqi musician shows up with his cello

5.  “Colombians welcome end of war

6. “Nick Ut's Napalm Girl Helped End the Vietnam War. Today in L.A., He's Still Shooting

7. “US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

8. “Phan Thi Kim Phuc” & “I've never escaped from that moment: Girl in napalm photograph that defined the Vietnam War 40 years on

9. “List of anti-war organizations

10. See here.

11.“‘US foreign policy is a marketing strategy for selling weapons’ – Jill Stein”

Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His new book of genre-bending poetic-nonfiction is “Musings With The Golden Sparrow.” You can contact him via his literary website. 

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