I just learned that one of my dearest friends in the world–an Army medic who has served in far too many conflicts and wars (Bosnia, Macedonia, Africa, Iraq three times, Afghanistan three times), risking her life again and again to save the lives of others– is facing a court martial. I don’t know the details. I do know that she suffers from horrific PTSD. I do know that she is an honest and honorable person, a practicing Buddhist and a conscientious objector, who has repeatedly refused to carry a weapon in some of the most dangerous places in the world. I am deeply concerned for her, and I wish her peace. I include her in my thoughts and meditations every day.
Her case raises so many questions, and for me (and for so many other people), they are up close and personal. She was young when she joined the military, and she is now one of its most experienced, veteran medics. Why is that my friend has spent 15 out of the last 18 years of her life in war? Well, that’s because the United States has been at war or involved in some conflict. How many other nations in the world are continually involved in conflicts abroad? What is “democratic” about forcibly and violently installing democracies around the world? Why do we invest so many of our tax dollars and GDP to feed the frenzied war machine, driven in no small part by the companies like Halliburton and KBR? Why is it that the pundits equate support for conflict with support for the men and women who are sent into conflict? And, what has this country and its violent foreign policy asked of my friend and of too many other men and women of this country???
I dream of living in a nation that forgets the idea of patriotism in favor of upholding peaceful and collaborative world citizenship. I dream of living in a world in which the meaningless death of Afghan citizens means as much to us as the deaths of our own soldiers. And, I dream of living in a world in which my friend can hang up her boots and live in peace.