Astramillie’s Weblog

Just a girl who’s bipolar trying to figure out her world

The Title Pacifist April 25, 2008

Filed under: pacifism — astramillie @ 11:36 am
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I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.
– Douglas MacArthur



            I have previously written about whether or not I would enlist if I had been the right age during a national tragedy.  One important fact about myself I ignored is the fact is that in reality I am a pacifist.  Now before people stop reading or start emailing me threats let me explain.  Explain, except I’m not sure how to.  I’ll tell you my history then the facts of pacifism and how I fit in there. 


            Yes, I hate violence.  Witnessing it has made me physically ill.  The thesauraus (always my first stop) lists non-violent, passive, and non-belligerent.  I guess not-violent fits.


            I grew up on a farm, death (at least of animals) is not stranger to me.  When I left home little by little I became more sensitive.  Yet, I was in the punk scene, so I saw many fights.  Instead of getting used to them they started to really upset me.  Why were they fighting in most cases?  In most cases it was because they were coming from different sides of Los Angeles, or the wrong color shoe laces, hair cut, jacket, you name it they fought about it. 


            I wanted to see the bands so I learned to find corners to hide in, and my friends would find me when the show was over or in a few cases when someone had a gun.


            A year or so later I moved to Sacramento.  I was listening to less punk and more and more folk music (yeah, big change it would seem but if you really look at lyrics they’re not that different).  I jumped into the music scene with both feet.  All types of music.  I loved the rush.  I loved the feeling of giving 300 kids in a smallish city music they might not otherwise hear.  Eventually a rule was made.  Everyone knew I could care of anything except fights for the most part one of the bouncers or other workers knew where I was.  If a fight broke out, within seconds someone grabbed me and had me protected from seeing it.  It’s nice being the boss.


            Then there were movies.  I never really paid attention to the excessive amount of violence in them.  We have become desensitized to it.


            On night in 1991 my boyfriend and another friend of ours went to the drive in to see Boyz in the Hood and Terminator 2 (yes, odd combination) Boyz was first.  Now, one quick note – all three of us had shaved head, no reason, no affiliation.  I was always bleaching the hell out of my hair coloring it pink, purple, fire engine red.  It would get straw like so I would shave it off.  In fact last summer at 36 just for the heck of it I shaved it, its just hair!  I digress.  The average person had no way of knowing we weren’t skinheads, but would skinheads have come to see Boyz in the Hood?  During the intermission an African American man opened our car door accidentally looked us over.  A few minutes later the cars all around us started honking their horns.  When Terminator started the honking stopped. 


So, first was not only an extremely violent movie but a racially charged one.  Now we were watching a pure violent movie.  The two boys I was with were a little freaked about the honking but didn’t see how the movie’s violence had anything to do with it and wouldn’t leave.  I spent the rest of the night in fetal position.  For the next week or so I kept playing violent scenes through until I couldn’t take it anymore.


Since then (1991) I have only paid to see two movies with violence – one just last month.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen any.  If I’m at my parent’s house I’m not going to tell them what they can and can’t watch.  Of course half the time its something like Alligator III (my dad is addicted to the Sci-Fi channel).  I have also had to watch violent movies for school, and that has been torturous.  But, I’m not going to be that student who makes a fuss about that kind of thing I just kind of meditate.  Now that I go to school online I can fake it.  But, I think I got caught basing a paper on a synopsis last term.


Sometimes I hate this part of my psyche yet there are others I’m rather proud..


So am I a pacifist?  I believe in non-violence.  I don’t think we should be in Iraq.  Do not get me wrong.  I 100% support our troops in terms of the men and women.  One of my best friends will be there soon (again).  I care about their well-being.


I’ve been doing research with little help.  Yes, obviously I have the internet; most of what I find is either negative or patronizing.  So I wanted to find a few books.  I forgot where I live.  Our library had some ancient books on Gandhi (yes, the first person I should go to for advice), the rest were collections of essays of people like Joan Baez (who I know was at the forefront in the 60’s & 70’s and I love her music, but she is a little daisies and peasant dresses for me right now)


I don’t eat granola for breakfast, I’m not a vegan Yes, and I am against war for the most part.  I wish it just didn’t exist, but I know it does.  And, unfortunately we are in one right now that we’ll be in for quite awhile.

To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.
– H.L. Mencken



Is it a lack of patriotism?

Filed under: pacifism — astramillie @ 11:25 am
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I recently made a new friend in my Master’s program.  He joined the army on September 12th,, 2001. He felt the “great call.”  Even after learning the hoops he was going to have to jump through to become the officer in the Army he was qualified to become.  Since he already had both a BA and MA he could not go through ROTC training.  He had to go through traditional basic training then on to officer candidate school becoming a 2nd Lt. Officer in the Calvary.  He is now back from Iraq waiting to redeployed his time to Afghanistan doing what he feels he should be doing for his country.


This got me thinking.  If I was younger would this have even crossed my mind?  The overwhelming answer is no. 


I’ve talked to my dad; he joined the Air Force after the Bay of Pigs in 1961.  He felt the pull of patriotism and duty.  My uncle was at the recruiter’s office the day after Pearl Harbor.  If I had been a young man during WWII would I have done that?  I have a feeling, and I don’t think I’m ashamed of it, that I would have been like my heroes.  Men like Pete Seeger and Alan Ginsberg as pacifists who loved their country they tried to find other ways to do their parts.  Seeger had a Japanese wife to worry about.  They did end up serving in the Merchant Marines.  They did not shirk their duty; they just never equated killing with patriotism.


I am more like my mother.  We find that it’s more important to show our patriotism through activism.  I have gone on protests, worked on campaigns, and worked with various activist groups.  I like to think that I poke our government with a sharp stick.  I see this as my responsibility, part of my form of patriotism.  I love my country and want to make it better.  Other than enlisting in the military I’d like to think I would have volunteered to help out during the Watts riots in 1968 like my mother.  There she was, this petite white woman in the middle of what was not far from a war zone doing what she could.


When I was in the 2nd grade my teacher told us, hand to God, one day that we were the luckiest generation.  We would never see another war.  Yes, she was a just- out -of – college – patchwork – skirt – wearing hippie chick.  I took that to heart.  When we entered the first Gulf War I took to bed for three days.  Then I wanted to hunt her down and make her pay my therapy bills.


I see war footage and I recoil.  I change the channel to something pleasant.  So, the answer is no, WW II, Vietnam, of the present war I you would not see me enlist.  Lately I’ve been trying to picture how I would react if I had an 18 year old child who came to me and told me that they wanted to enlist.  Would I feel proud?  Isn’t that the emotion I should have?  I’d try but, I think I’d lock her in the basement.  To keep her alive?  Absolutely.  For political reasons?  Of course.