My main useful work of the day was vacuuming the shop floor. I found I was leaving traces a bit like the marks left by wasps scouring a surface for nest building material as the clean concrete was revealed underneath the detritis of recent work. My mind wandered a good deal, fortunately my body did not actually drift off with it. The cheap and noisy shop vacuum had sufficient suction to keep me anchored to the floor as I found myself pondering the podcast I had been listening to. A BBC roundtable program called midweek that rather stuck in the brain box. Twice in the past three episodes I have heard people making comment on war. The first was an american soldier who had just written a book about his horrific experiences. At one point he spoke of watching his small sons playing with toy guns after he had been home for a while and stated that he hoped they would have the courage and opportunity to serve their country as he had. I remember feeling an incredible sense of dissapointment that nobody around the table told him he was a burk. I am a bloke so I can understand aggression and the desire to defend friends and family, but patriotism is not the same and the war being fought in Iraq by the US (who I think of as the THEM, when I am not careful) has nothing to do with defending friends and family. Today there was a chap talking about a book he had written that included letters from doctors and nurses serving the sick and injured in many wars . They spoke of officers dying with a smile on their lips knowing they had had the honor of giving their lives for their country. Infantrymen who wanted to keep the bullets extracted from them to show the misses back home. Other than comments agreeing that there is just not that kind of patriotism in the country today there was again silence around the table. The silence stands out as ugly when one realizes that those people who suffered were pumped so full of propaganda that it is a wonder their eyes didn't bubble.
I remember once thinking that it was strange how the propensity for war has survived in us as a species. If you think of the proportion of folk killed during episodes of war you would think that through evolutionary forces alone we would become more peaceful as a race. Then I realized that the fact that so many die means there are fewer witnesses to tell of how disgusting, terrible and banal the whole business is.
Thankfully there are a few, or I would have no basis for my opinion. The consistent occurrence of this nasty war habit has nothing to do with those who die fighting, it is the ratbags that send them off to war that not only survive these awful episodes, they positively prosper.
Japan is one of the only countries that has a constitutional obligation not to bear arms or go to war ever again, I hope they will stick to it and eventually feel empowered to reject the protection of the US as no longer required when there are more countries and peoples who are similarly bound by a personal conviction that "the true enemy is war itself".
Feet back on the floor again now, just in time for bed.