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this is column 45
The Outspeaker
March-12-10
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Issue:
11.03

Joel Wayne This column started out as a very opinionated (from the Left) vehicle for me to both get things off my chest and hopefully learn from reader feedback. Most readers will testify that I have succeeded in the former. I can testify that I have failed in the latter. I have never represented myself as a journalist; rather I consider myself an advocate for Liberal ideology. I fully expected that many of the positions I have taken would engender opposition, and indeed hoped for that opposition to be passionate. Sadly, this element of the plan has been a flop.

I can attribute this to several factors. Perhaps everyone agrees with me. Maybe the facts and opinions I present are so trite and self evident to the readership that no response is warranted. It is also quite possible that no one reads my screeds. Who knows?

I grew up in a family in which passionate political argument was a staple of family gatherings. Through all this disagreement, raised voices, and arm waving, we never lost sight of the fact that we were family, and when food was on the table, the politics were laid aside and we came together as such. I always found such debate cathartic.

The few responses I have received here were either in total agreement with my opinions, or took me to task for my “tone.” In all cases, I took care to try to respond with respect and gratitude. At least the respondents had taken the time and effort to voice SOME sort of opinion, whether or not I agreed with their views. What I cannot understand is how so few readers have nothing at all to say.

I hope that our readership can find it in their hearts (and schedules) to favor the columnists (it seems that I am not the ONLY writer wandering in this desert of apathy) with some sort of feedback. Healthy debate is a way forward. Silence is not an option.

Enough.

I am at heart a pacifist. Which makes me an idealist. Despite the tone I take in my column (another columnist called me a “provocateur”) I am a fairly amiable guy. I despise all forms of physical violence, be it directed against a person or a nation. I believe that ALL war is the failure of diplomacy. Whenever I put forth this notion, people almost always use the “Hitler” argument. My response? If the world at large, and the Allies in particular, had not slammed Germany with the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler and the Nazis would never have flourished. Again, WWII was a product of the failure of politics and diplomacy. Our own Civil war, a war which cost the lives of upwards of 600,000 Americans grew out of the inability of the two sides to craft a political solution to Southern grievances. The issue of slavery, while put forth as a prime cause of the war, was in reality a fairly minor point at the beginning of the conflict.

I am a big fan of Gandhi, King, and all pacifists who have laid their lives and fortunes on the line for their beliefs. I would suggest you Google the name Lisa Kalvelage, and read about her life story, and what she did and said.

I also respect (as did Gandhi) the discipline and dedication to honor the bravery embodied in the service of soldiers.

Having said all that, there are other, and largely unheralded, forms of bravery. The auto industry worker who has had his wages and benefits cut and is forced to work two or three jobs to support his or her family is every bit as brave as a soldier.

The single mother who goes to sleep every night worried about her lack of health insurance, and reflecting on the irony that her minimum wage job at Burger King puts her over the income level to qualify for Medicaid is as courageous as a soldier.

People who suffer the pain and disabling effects of chronic illnesses and still manage to work on projects, publish newsletters, maintain their enthusiasm for friendship and enjoy the world around them, exhibit courage every bit as unique as that of a soldier.

We have been engaged in two wars for almost a decade. I fail to see the reason for the waste and suffering these conflicts have engendered. In short, I see no benefit coming our way for the price we are paying, both in human suffering and money. We have an all-volunteer army. These wars do not affect families the way the war in Vietnam did. Perhaps that is the reason for the apparent lack of outrage and activism when it comes to the current conflicts. Perhaps the fact that the military depends on enlistment for its cannon fodder is a reason for the “jobless recovery” we seem to be experiencing? To a kid graduating high school, the military might seem a better option than unemployment.

Let me know what you think. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I await your opinions. Tell me I’m full of it, show me where I’m wrong, say SOMETHING! You don’t owe it to me; you owe it to the millions who have died for your right to agree or disagree, and to freely express your opinion.

 

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