“While they (the pontificating teachers and politicos) continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger.” (1.49) – All Quiet on the Western Front
Our veterans fighting PTSD would most certainly agree with the quote from above. For them, the “real-life” experience is not an experience of honor and service, but a memory that has them constantly relieving the experience of the death-throes. Those of us who have not gone through their experience will not understand them.
We do not understand a bitter General, William Tecumseh Sherman, saying,
“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.”
Knowing of the death that war deals, it is no surprise that General and President Dwight Eisenhower says:
“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.” He also said: “Possibly my hatred of war blinds me so that I cannot comprehend the arguments they adduce. But, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a preventive war. Although this suggestion is repeatedly made, none has yet explained how war prevents war. Worse than this, no one has been able to explain away the fact that war creates the conditions that beget war.”
It should be no surprise that among prominent leaders in any anti-war movement, there are always soldiers who have served. They know what war is really like. They are the ones who stand up, like Eisenhower, and warn us that “… war creates the conditions that beget war.” I wish we had listened to Eisenhower’s warning before we entered Iraq in a preventive war, as we most certainly had a main hand in creating the conditions that begot the current war against ISIS.
In that light, it may be that you wish to support an organization that regularly advocates for peaceful solutions. The Orthodox Peace Fellowship tries to be a conscience among the Orthodox that shouts to us that we should try any type of peaceful resolution before we allow ourselves to engage in armed conflict.
I have read some of their self-description. They claim that they are not pacifist, but rather that they are against waging war. They claim that they are not against Orthodox young people who choose to serve in the Armed Forces, but are only protecting them against those who want to resolve all conflicts with violence (jingoists) and, “deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.” In this sense, they would most certainly appear to agree with General Sherman.
In this light, I find it interesting that I work with a Navy veteran who has recently finished writing a new textbook on the science/art of cooperation from family to country to international relations. His concepts are interesting enough that a state university is adopting his textbook and the first classes begin in January of 2015. Other universities are looking at his textbook as well. By now it should be no surprise that a war veteran wants to promote cooperation and peace.
We are not all capable of writing books. But, we are all capable of supporting efforts to keep us peaceful. Take a look at the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and see whether they are a fit for you.