I worked with a man named Charlie years ago in Houston. I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten his last name. When we met he was nearing retirement age.
He was one of the very first Americans into Berlin at the close of World War II. He told me there were dead bodies everywhere; soldiers, civilians, dogs, horses, mules. The health threat was imminent, and there was no time for formalities. It was his job to drag the corpses, humans and animal, and toss them into the basements of bombed out buildings. Bulldozers would push rubble on top of them.
He was 18.
It was almost fifty years after those events when he told them to me. He didn’t tear up exactly, but his eyes became distant and vacant, like he was looking at something far off, near the horizon; the thousand-yard stare.
He wanted to move up in the chemical company we both worked for, but he didn’t have the cut-throat mentality that environment demanded. He was compassionate. He was empathetic. He was kind. They used him up and tossed him aside.
He contracted cancer and took early retirement, and died not long after. His stories went with him.
Too many people remember the victory parades. Too many people remember the arrogant posturing of generals MacArthur and Patton. Too many people remember the glory and the riches that followed.
Not enough people remember Charlie.
You would think after thirty straight years of daily bombings they would have figured out that violence doesn’t work as a means to solve your problems.
The sad thing is, you can’t be sure which side I’m talking about.
“In a world that wants us to be angry, bitter, selfish and vile, I realized that the truest form of rebellion is uncompromising righteousness. In this day and age, I believe that a true rebel does not run the streets with a weapon yelling stuff. True rebels live the life they believe is right, no matter the consequences. Those in power do not fear some random person with a weapon. They can easily control that. Those in power fear those that are not corruptible, not buy-able, not brainwash-able, and not scare-able.” ~Vigilant Citizen
“When you stop searching and you calm down and you put your books away, and you confront yourself and see what you are all about, that will bring about bliss faster than anything you can ever imagine or ever do.” ~Robert Adams
I used to read parables about Zen monks who would be given a koan, see the world from a slightly different perspective, instantly attain enlightenment, and go on to (I assumed) live Happily Ever After.
I’ve spent a lot of time pouring over old religious texts and studying the great masters, but I don’t think that flash of inspiration is ever going to come. I don’t think there’s going to be an “Ah-ha!” moment where suddenly everything comes into focus and makes sense.
I think the closest I’m going to come to being “enlightened” are those moments when I’m lying on my back, calmly watching the clouds blow by overhead, smiling.
“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.” ~John Lennon
I can’t find a credible source for this, so maybe John Lennon said it and maybe he didn’t. If someone with better Google skills than me can find the original source, please share it in the comments.
Either way, I believe the words are true.
“…the Muslim World has a duty to arm the Palestinian nation by all means.” ~Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (source)
That won’t work.
The Palestinians are closer to victory than they realize- but they’re never going to defeat the US-backed Israeli military. Fortunately, they don’t need to.
If I may digress for a moment: one dirty little secret that governor Rick Perry doesn’t want you to know is that the Texas economy is completely dependent on cheap labor from Mexico. This is a pretty racist state, so he has to pretend that he’s Very Upset by “illegal” immigration, but the truth is that until unescorted children starting arriving- kids too young to work- this was not a priority for him. He’s whined and moaned a bit, usually around election time, but he’s been governor since 1999 and hasn’t done anything to staunch the flow.
The Israeli economy is in the same predicament, with an even more evil twist. Their economy relies on cheap Palestinian labor, and to ensure a never ending supply they need to keep Palestine in poverty. Under the guise of “fighting terrorism,” they come in every few years to blow up all the local businesses, leaving a hungry populace with no one else to turn to.
The best thing the Arab states could do would be to seal the borders- denying the Israeli Army the excuse they need, and Israeli businesses the cheap labor they crave- and build factories, schools, and businesses to make Palestine self-sufficient.
Lobbing firecrackers over the border plays right into their hands. Do you really want to force Israel to the negotiating table? Hit ’em in the pocket book.