In his 1967 “Break the Silence” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King warned the American people that the Vietnam War was not only killing tens of thousands of American servicemen and countless Vietnamese, but also destroying our souls.
Now, over 40 years later, we are again involved in two wars that are not only destroying the lives and livelihoods of countless thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, but the bodies and minds of thousands of Americans who have engaged in or witnessed these crimes.
U.S. Army doctor Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on the violent rampage at Ft. Hood because many internal and external contradictions—of being against the war, as millions of other Americans are; of being an army psychiatrist tasked with listening, day in and day out, to the pain and suffering of veterans whose bodies and souls have been destroyed by these criminal wars; of believing that it is a sin for Muslims to kill other Muslims, yet on the eve of being deployed to the war front—came to a head.
The killings at Ft. Hood are another wake-up call to all Americans to say “enough is enough.”
It is time to look in the mirror and bring an end to our culture of violence—which began at the founding of this country with the massacre of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans, and which is now manifesting itself globally in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and domestically in the violence in our communities, including police brutality, household violence, our children killing one another, and the anti-drug wars which justify the incarceration of millions of inner city youth.
Over the November 6-9 weekend, to commemorate the Veterans Day holiday, Bill Moyers Journal showed The Good Soldier, an unsanitized documentary by Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys that can also be viewed in theaters.
I have watched it twice and I urge every reader to watch it, either in a theater or at home on DVD, preferably with a group of family and friends who after viewing the film can discuss together what we need to do to recover our humanity.
Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country
Our country will not find peace until we take responsibility for our wars.
In The Good Soldier, four veterans tell the story of how they are healing themselves through their involvement in the anti-war movement.
Ed Wood, a World War II veteran, says that although he looked normal, for decades he was ready to commit suicide, as he tried to recover the innocence of the little boy of 19 who was shot in the head in France in 1944.
Will Williams, a Vietnam War veteran, explains that killing felt good at first because he was getting rid of the hate that had accumulated in him after growing up black in Mississippi, but how he finally realized that killing had made an animal out of him. He joined the anti-war movement to keep his grandson from the same fate.
Perry Parks, another Vietnam War veteran, describes his paralyzing fears as he tried not to see the people he was killing, and his growing realization that he was committing war crimes.
Jimmy Massey, who was a Marine in Iraq, tells us how he began by not caring about anyone except the Marines in his own platoon. As he found himself killing unarmed demonstrators, he realized that war is all about being trained to hunt down and kill other human beings and innocent civilians for your government—that it is like a drug which gives you a rush at first but to which you become addicted until it ends up destroying you.
You can also be involved in the anti-war, anti-violence movement on the home front by creating Peace Zones in your neighborhoods, as we have begun to do in Detroit.
:: Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs brought people together to rebuild inner-city Detroit and to teach the things you can’t learn in a classroom. At 94, Grace is still at it.