Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day: Another Abstract American Holiday

This "holiday" today originally was called Armistice Day, marking the end of the hell that was World War I. After at least 20 million deaths, and entire nations left in rubble, it was supposed to be a reminder of the call "Never again!" from survivors. Including many leaders of the day. It wasn't about abstractions like "heroism," "freedom," "patriotism," or even "service." It was about remembering the millions of humans murdered in a conflict that WWI veteran Harry Patch described in these terms "if you boil it down, what was it? Nothing but a family row. That’s what caused it." Even though the nature of Armistice Day shifted quickly towards honoring military veterans, I choose to honor the original spirit. The end of war. The weariness of ever going there again. The desire for peace to remain, however fragile it may be. I think it says a lot about a country, what it's people choose to honor and celebrate. We're entirely too fond of celebrating war and those who participate in it, colonialist notions of "freedom," genocidal "heroes" like Columbus, and events tied to the colonizer form of Christianity. And the major holidays like Valentine's Day and Halloween, which aren't intimately tied to those narratives, are driven by consumerism. Regardless of what good folks make out of all this, it says a lot about how the U.S. is in the world, and where our collective energies are still going to in large degree. And so, in honoring the original spirit of Armistice Day, I call out to that place in each of us that is peace incarnate. That recognizes kinship with all beings, across arbitrary lines and divisions of any kind. What a day like this truly should honor, so that we might all come back to ourselves, put an end the petty battles and greed driven land grabs before they put an end to us.


Anonymous said...

Please explain to me at what point in human history was there any culture who recognizes kinship with all beings, across arbitrary lines and divisions of any kind? Buddhists perhaps? I think not.
I am a big supporter Buddhism and even attempt to incorporate some practices into my daily life. I am also a professional Soldier. Whether or not I agree with your opinions of the political and social climate of our nation today is irrelevant. But I do find it repulsive that you dare to marginalize the service of American Veterans and claim it is a day to celebrate war. You speak of “the weariness of ever going there again” when referring to war. I can say with high confidence that you have never had to experience war outside of your comfortable suburban home, watching your big screen HDTV. I myself have not been as fortunate as you. The less fortunate poor and lower middle class youth of America choose to serve as your protectors. Not because they has some wild imperialist dream of world conquest. Because they lack any other opportunity earn an education or a trade skill. The US military provides those services for an embarrassing salary and the possible cost of one’s life. So please feel free to bash the establishment, politicians, corporate executives, big banks, etc… But please exercise some mature judgment before you bash those who died believing that they were helping to provide the freedom that allows you to write this blog.

Nathan said...

You are the one reading that I am "bashing" soldiers here. You also assume plenty of other things about me in your comment, such as my class background, level of material comfort, and also level of "maturity." The whole point about the 969 movement, among other problems with Buddhism throughout it's history? I've already written about it, as recently as a few months ago here.

Anonymous said...

My intent is not to troll or drag you into a tit-for-tat arguement. I do applaude you for posting my comment.