Mother's Day - Love, Life and Loss
"In times of peace the young bury the old. In times of war the old bury the young." - From Herodotus*
I came of age during the Vietnam War. It was a tumultuous time, a time for raising questions, challenging injustices and seeking new paths forward. It was also a time of great pain and suffering for many people. Millions of lives were shattered or utterly destroyed, both in the United States and across the Pacific. In beautiful distant lands the U.S. military, in a furious rage, seemed hell bent on destroying the very people it was supposedly there to protect.
During the depths of that senseless war my mother discovered that she had Multiple Sclerosis. It hit her young and it hit her hard. Within days of her 37th birthday, she was gone. As painful as that is to say, as painful as that was to experience, I cannot imagine the pain a mother or father must feel to lose a child.
The original quote from Herodotus, referenced above, is "In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons". War in modern times does not limit itself to destroying the lives of brave young men, however. It destroys women, children and entire families, annihilating the foundations of civilization itself.
Disease and Destruction
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a type of autoimmune disease where the body's defenses misidentify its own cells and attempts to destroy them. In the case of MS it is the lining of the spinal cord that is attacked. The individual can lose their balance, mobility, vision and even life itself through the actions of a broken and reckless immune system.
In the United States today we have the equivalent of a broken immune system. The out of control militarism and swelling empire that has coincided with it has not been healthy for the citizens it is supposedly designed to serve. It has created an unbalanced economy inordinately dependent on government spending. It has harmed mobility as passengers wait in long security lines and as goods are no longer freely traded among nations at war. Most disturbingly, it blindly attacks fellow human beings that are no threat but instead creates hatred, fear and blowback, threatening the health and lives of all.
It seems that suffering can either make you more sensitive to pain or make you more callous. The sorrow I experienced and shared with my father and brother certainly made me more aware of the pain of others. That awareness, along with a lifetime’s investigation into the sheer illogic and utter stupidity of war has led me to where I am today, passionate for peace and driven to ending the out of control militarism infecting this country. Although we live in turbulent and challenging times it is also a great time to be alive and I am thankful to my parents for bringing me into this world. I think my mother would be proud.
Mom, photographed by my dad in 1967; Vietnam refugees (1963) - Photo provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.