For me, patriotism died within minutes of landing in Vietnam in 1967. It was a totally unexpected death, since I’d volunteered to be there and actually believed that we were there to protect freedom and democracy. Within minutes, I realized what countless soldiers before me had discovered- war isn’t about protecting anything, it’s about powering economies, strengthening politicians, and validating religions.
Once you convince the people that their freedom is being threatened, it is easy to go to war. Just tell them that godless hordes will take over the world if we don’t fight – or more aptly, continue to fight, since the history of this country is war – continual, senseless war – in fact, the history of man is war – no more, no less.
It has been said that war is the failure of politics and for a long time, I believed that was true, but I’ve come to realize that war isn’t the failure of politics, it is simply a product of politics; a natural outgrowth of the idea that in order to maintain political power, it is imperative that threats to ones way of life are manufactured and overcome.
If there were no countries and no religions, we could live in harmony, and peace, with each other and the planet. We’ve probably gone too far down the dark road of war to ever return to the place where that is a possibility, but I still enjoy thinking of it…
Note – The Buddha in the photo now stands on the spot, where in 1967 there was a small hamlet – a hamlet that we decimated by day and the Viet Cong by night – It’s now a quiet place – a place where the voice of God is easily heard by those who choose to listen.