Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Dec 26, 2009 6:24 AM PST
This essay is dedicated to my new friend Maiysha Myshere, who reminded me that true Soldiers For Peace must never act out of anger, but with the most perfect love we can muster. Only by forgiving those who have wronged us and our loved ones can we succeed in our mission to re-create the family of Mankind and unite the world in the cause of peace and justice.
I therefore resolve this year to forgive the chief architect of America’s near-destruction, Dick Cheney. When his sick heart finally gives out and he gives up the ghost, may his soul rest in peace after facing the judgment of a loving God that I believe in my heart exists.
The soldier who kills in anger is the one who has the hardest time forgiving himself when the heat of the battle ends and he returns to society. It is impossible for any feeling person to escape feeling guilt in the knowledge of having violated the First Commandment., but doing so our of anger rather than a sense of duty is among the most soul-searing acts of war.
We are taught by our parents and society that we shall not kill, yet our youth are told by our government that it is a patriotic duty to serve in time of war when our leaders demand it. It is a difficult struggle for soldiers having killed for lofty ideals they may come to see as cynical lies to live with this contradiction unless they know how to forgive themselves and know that they are forgiven by God, if they believe it exists.
Though we may try to tell ourselves that a soldier kills for a greater good, if we understand the meaning of the life and death of Christ we know in our hearts that killing can no longer be seen as the answer to confronting our fear for the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. This lesson does not depend on belief in Christ's divinity. It only requires the simple recognition that he gave his life for his belief that a Soldier For Peace is willing to die to defend the principle that violence is not the answer to ending conflict, but its cause.
It is this lack of faith in the belief that right makes might that leads citizens and politicians alike to accept the self-fulfilling prophecy that war is inevitable. This sad fact is made more poignant when the combat veteran retreats from society and fails to engage in the battle to end war so that their children do not suffer the same fate.
It is the selfishness of our politicians and their corporate Puppetmasters that is ultimately responsible for the suffering of our young patriots. Our troops are told that their opponents are enemies of America, the citizens of both countries and of the world. Only by demonizing the chosen enemies of the corporatocracy can they expect morally upright citizens to kill in the name of God and country.
In the new year, I resolve to remember that I have chosen to forgive those who have habitually lie to themselves. They are the true enemies of a free people who must together decide what kind of nation the United States is to become, yet in seeking to heal our wounds and restore democracy to America, I believe that we must forgive even those who have betrayed our trust. These are those who have abused the power to waste the lives of those who willingly risked them in the name of a freedom they themselves will never know in this life.
I vow to continue to fight for liberty and justice for all in the name of the patriot martyrs who have given their lives to preserve the Union and the true American ideal of promoting justice and peace throughout the world. I will not rest until we have removed from power those who have forgotten that we are all part of one family of Mankind and therefore must love others as we claim that we wish to love ourselves.
Rick Staggenborg, MD
Founder, Soldiers For Peace International