Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

My friend Josh Pettigrew compiled these quotes and posted them to Facebook. Thank you Josh for having the courage to speak for peace.

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
-Romans 12:18

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?"
-Matthew 5:43-47

"The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he comes from, and if he really was evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home, and would he not rather have stayed there... in peace? War will make corpses of us all."
-Faramir, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Suicide in the Trenches
by Siegfried Sassoon

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And floundering like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; *Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

*Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country".

"War is the health of the state."
—Randolph Bourne, The State

"Never has there been a good war or a bad peace."
—Benjamin Franklin

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly and wickedness of the government may engage itself?

"Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest right of personal liberty? Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life, itself, whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it? . . .

"A free government with an uncontrolled power of military conscription is the most ridiculous and abominable contradiction and nonsense that ever entered into the heads of men."
—Daniel Webster, Speech in the House of Representatives, January 14, 1814

"Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it."
-Thomas Jefferson

One day Confucius and his students were walking through the forest and came upon a woman weeping bitterly by an open grave. One student asked why she was crying, and she said, "First, my husband's father was killed here by a tiger. Then the tigers ate my husband. Now they have eaten my son." Confucius then asked the woman why she did not leave the forest, and she said, "Because there is no oppressive government here." Confucius then turned to his students and said, "Remember this: Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers."

1 comment:

Sheila said...

Interesting to read all those quotes about peace, and then the oppressive government-tiger story.

Most oppressive governments have been ended because of people who were willing to fight. And some, by what they have said and written, clearly felt it was worth it. Maybe not "dulce" (sweet), but it does seem that some causes are worth giving one's life for, and some people do that willlingly.

I think it's all more complicated than most people are willing to admit. Of course peace is best. And sometimes temporary war is the only way to have longer-term peace.

And of course there have been wars that did not lead to peace. But some have. You can't lump them all together, I don't think.

I wonder what connection to peace Josh Pettigrew was making with that final story?