I remember in childhood the first time that I became aware that countries sent their young men to war to fight out their differences. I remember being incredulous. How did you know who won? Was it decided by whomever managed to kill more of the other’s children? I decided I was a pacifist.
I’d like to say I am still a pacifist but I’m not. Though I still abhor war, my beliefs are more along the lines of what Jimmy Carter said: “War is sometimes a necessary evil, but it’s always an evil, never a good.” World War II is an example of a necessary evil. The Iraq War, to me, is not.
And so, at first, when the politicians said that they were executing the Iraq War to protect the American way of life—my way of life—I was offended and angry. But then I realized how many resources I use in my life, including oil. I used so much that a war might actually be necessary to protect that way of life, to make sure there was enough to supply my endless consumption. If I expect to be allowed to use so many of the world’s resources, aren’t I partly to blame if my government fights to secure those resources?
Part of my motivation for the No Impact experiment was to see if I could develop a way of life that didn’t need quite so much of that kind of protection. We’re fighting for oil. I thought, would it be possible to use less oil and therefore feel less to blame?
This is all background to the NPR segment I want to share today. In it, a young soldier named Peter Mohan returned from Iraq to his wife Anna (pictured above). He refused to open the blinds or go out of his house. He acted as though he was still protecting himself from the enemy. Anna went to a support group and found that Vietnam War wives still attended. Did that mean, she wondered, it would never get better?
How many of our boys and girls have been permanently scarred by this war for resources? Is it worth their sacrifice? Could there be more peace if we were willing to have a little less? Honestly, Peter and Anna's story just made me weep.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.