All’s Quietism on the Western Front

All’s Quietism on the Western Front
A poetic essay dedicated to Rev. Jeremiah Wright
by Lisa Massaciùccoli

“Clark, who led last year’s expedition to the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, and UC Berkeley colleague Tim D. White, also said that a re-examination of a 300,000-year-old fossil skull found in the same region earlier shows evidence of having been scalped.”

– The Yuma Daily Sun, June 13, 1982 (quoted in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian)

We study (or hear about) history, and it certainly seems as if violence is an integral part of human nature. But — in all times — nonviolence is never studied; that wouldn’t serve the interests of the powers that be, would it? And people wonder why my youngest child, home schooled to the hilt, is not interested in acclimating… or the future.

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be. Violence has taken its toll, exacted our soul.

Obama has promised to ratchet up U.S. presence in Afghanistan. That alone — Powers, Emanuel, Biden, Albright, Powell, Rubin, Pritzker, Brennan, Miscik et. al. aside — should be more than sufficient to damn him in the sensitive heart. This is Emperor Jones in denial*, not without clothes, but in drenched fashionable fabric, his acupuncture points soaked along a blood meridian… his sparkling contrast with others, colorful historic inroads, eloquence, and sweet family notwithstanding.

*Rather than read the Eugene O’Neill play to get the allusion here, I recommend that readers review Tariq Ali’s http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/19660. It deals with the denial AND (while being instructive with little-known details) embeds some hope. To begin to understand my Powers to Miscik list, one could begin with http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/17/obama_taps_ex_cia_officials_tie d.

At this juncture, Obama is a perfect emblem/motivator for “America.” Military recruiters having had a tough time of late signing up misguided youngsters, will now have an easy field day. Since Bush couldn’t give us all that is Obama, we (the powers-that-be) had to invent him.

The sensitive twenty-year-old narrator of All Quiet on the Western Front — early in Erich Maria Remarque’s 1928 work — ponders a play and some verse he has left in his desk, and realizes that his generation has “become a waste land.” The title of the play — “Saul” — suggests the first king of Israel. In I Samuel 31:3-13 through II Samuel 1:1-27, David discovers Saul’s body alongside that of the prince, Jonathan, and mourns their wretched deaths on the battlefield.

Remarque’s delineation of unnecessary inhumanity throughout AQWF should have been enough. Christ’s words of compassion — before they were distorted by Constantine (312), making the cross into a basis for crusades — should have been sufficient. That nothing has been, however, does not mean that YOU must kill innocents in Afghanistan. Pay for it. Be quiet about it. Limit yourself to simply arguing about it in print or otherwise… which is all I see going on.

For all the unnecessary bloodshed and torture and cries to deaf Heaven in Remarque’s novel, there is relatively little violence done to nature and non-combatants. Because of changes in that realm the future is truly different now. And the very nature of human beings threatens to change forever.

If I were to state that we — the U.S. — had, as of August 6, 1990 (or May 22, 2003), become more insanely cruel and destructive than WWII’s Hitlerian Horror, would you recoil and claim that such a statement is absurd? Fine. Then I ask you if there’s anything (more) that “America” could do in the world which would qualify it as the greatest purveyor of violence in history. Is there?

Oh why oh why is Obama invoking the assassinated spirit of Martin Luther King? How on earth do people reconcile King’s characterization of his country (”greatest purveyor of violence on earth”) with the “hope” embedded in Obama’s promised abominations in Afghanistan and elsewhere?

At this point we must acknowledge that we have no enemies but ourselves. That we are obliged to be vulnerable. As we will all be… in the end… regardless of what we do.

That which has always been accepted by everyone, everywhere, is almost certain to be false. But you can counter those myths up until your last breath. Besides, what better else do you have to do with your limited heartbeats? Turn into a quietist?

See Howard Zinn’s Declarations of Independence, the chapter which delineates why war is not part of human nature, not necessary. And read Mark Kurlansky’s Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea for support in embracing the notion that we should not be fighting any wars, that we could eliminate our presence overseas overnight (troops, mercenaries et. al.) if our hearts were in a healthy place. That we must — as individuals, not requiring solidarity — if the future is going to be what it used to be.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.”
Genesis 6:11

For now, all is quiet and still… this day. Calm.

Lisa can be reached at massaciu@yahoo.com. The author believes that Rev. Wright holds the potential to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, to pressure him to a degree in public that’s equivalent to what a million+ U.S. citizens might do, need to do immediately… according to virtually all writers on the Left. Rev. Wright as the poster child for pressuring the president? Peaceful Howard Zinn voted for Nader and peaceful Noam Chomsky voted for McKinney, and both have applauded the vast majority of what Rev. Wright — disowned by Obama — has been ranting and raving about for the last few decades. He is the perfect soul to rally around… to keep the soulless Obama soldiers from rallying around the blood-drenched flag.

Special note: Nonviolent protest is not pacifism. The latter is like simply turning the other cheek. And many of those who advocate nonviolence know very well the injustice and horror inherent in institutionalized violence, but choose to bravely combat it with (what they consider) the most effective possible response… doing their best to not play into the hands of those who hold virtually all of the violent cards.