Can you remember when?

Can you remember the exact moment in time when you developed a specific moral stance? Do you remember that precise instance?

For some of us, an event in our lives is so galvanizing that it shapes who we will be forever. It leaves a mark on us that can not be erased. For me that event came in the seventh grade. The two books pictured above are directly responsible for me being a pacifist. I was twelve when I read them. My mind could barely grasp the information. I could not understand how such terrible things could be done by one group of human beings to another group of human beings.

I looked to the adults in my life for answers. I asked questions. Why had these things happened? More importantly why had they been allowed to happen? No one had good answers. I read every book I could find about WWII, The Holocaust, the Japanese Internment in America, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The more I read the more my mind turned. War is a terrible thing. I read all the words. I listened to all the explanations. None of it rang true.

All I saw in my minds eye were the dead. All I could think about was what it must have been like for the President to have to live with the knowledge that he had ordered the deaths of millions of innocent people. The hell that that must have been. Where was the "right" in that? And in that instant, that moment, a moral stance formed. It solidified in my mind, took hold of my soul and rooted itself in my character. I have carried it with me in my judgements and my decisions.

As an adult I have watched my country go to war on differnt occassions. I have listened to friends talk of patriotism and been told I'm a "bad American", like a dog who peed on the rug, but that moral conviction has stayed strong in my heart. Steadfast. When others see the nescessity I see the death and the perpetuation of violence. When others talk of having to take decisive action and promoting democracy, I cry for the mother who will bury a child to young to have died so brutally. I rage inside for the futility that the cycle of violence creates.

I watch my nightly news and see tears on the faces of mourners for the victims of a school shooting and I wonder where the tears are for the hundreds that died that day in a country an ocean away.

All because of a single instant in the seventh grade when I was handed two books.


super des said...

I watched a documentary on Hiroshima in college. It was just awful.

I don't understand how wanting to not send thousands of people to their deaths is being a "bad American."


Gunfighter said...

Aren't books wonderful things?

You simply read the with open minds, and information flows like water from a spout.

Of course, you have to have a finely tuned bullshit detector, too.

Suzanne said...

I agree with you that war is vile, but I am curious how the Holocaust would have come to an end had WWII not happened. It wasn't the war that perpetrated the Holocaust. I'm pretty sure that no one would have done anything about it at all had their been no war.

viciousrumours said...

You know, that's one of the things I stuggle with. I see things like what's happening in Darfur today and am reminded of the Holocaust and it's cost to humanity.

The images in those books solidified for me the very real cost of war and it's not an easy thing to reconcile when you see something so obviously wrong happening.

Gunfighter said...

A thought:

War is vile, abhorrent, and awful.

Violence is a tool. A rarely necessary tool, but there are times when it is not only necessary, but good.