by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
February 7, 2007
THE MISSION OF THE LIVING
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- The dead hear no birds singing, delight no more in the first daffodil of spring, feel no more the kiss of the wind on their face.
The dead are a long time dead and daily we increase
their numbers by the primitive savagery called war.
Let us this day delight in all our eyes can take in. Let us marvel that we can put one foot in front of another, that we can hear the warning cries of the mockingbird, see the wind's trail as it passes through the tree tops; and let us do these things in gratitude and honor of our soldier-children whose futures we have stolen; whose lives we have aborted, and whose dreams we have dismissed with the stroke of a President's pen.
Yesterday I watched the dark eyes of a child-soldier as he held up the stumps of his legs for the camera. He will never run with ease again across a football field, never kneel easily with arms outstretched to catch the flying weight of his small son in his arms. I thought of his mother and father, waiting somewhere, to take him home to his old room and his new broken life.
In these dark nights of one more war it is difficult to look for and find great blessings in the world and so we must turn to those things in our daily war-weary lives. We can hear the robin calling to its mate. We can see the spring-eager green beginnings of new life, small trees calling to their Mother, "Here I am! Here I am!"
There is little in war we can look to and say "There! That is good! That makes sense!"
All war is evil and an unprovoked war is the greatest evil. But it is in the courage, the fierce courage, of our soldier-children that we can find something worth shouting about, something to hold onto while the inevitable body bags and our maimed children come home.
I complain often and long and loudly about war. Any war. All wars. War is the greatest failing in and of humans, for we are not called to the murder of God's children but to tend the family members next door and in faraway places - to love them as we love ourselves and to sing: There by God's grace goes one like me, with dreams and longings and hopes and a desire for the good life... just like me.
Where we disagree, I will be tolerant. Where we agree, I will be thankful. Where anger lives, I will sow seeds of sincere listening and where differences divide, I will spread the healing power of love that we might never, never again set our children - our indispensable children - against each other.
Not for any cruel, demanding paper god will we send our children to their deaths. Not for all the oil in the good Earth. Not for power over others or to sustain a way of life that fails any yardstick of true spirituality. And not in taking orders that reduces the human spirit, which is repelled by evil and thrives on love. I believe every individual over the age of 16 has a duty to study, first, the history of war and the results of war and, secondly, get up, speak out, shout and keep shouting until we taste the sweetness of peace, worldwide and ceaseless.
As the reassuring tug of one more Spring alerts our senses, let us look upon the broken bodies of our living soldier-children and toward the cemeteries where solemn birds sing over the brown mounds of our silent dead.
Let's whisper to our dead and crippled children: "I will walk gratefully this day through one more spring. I will listen to the call of the chickadee for you and I will exalt in the sight of the green buds pushing to reclaim one more season of life.
"In such things I shall rejoice and sing a song of gratitude, apology and despair to you - for you - about you. And I will begin today to aid in ways that halt the rivers of hate that have resulted in one more insane war.
"Forgive us, our children. We will run, today, to find a better way tomorrow."
AR Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former columnist for the Orlando Sentinel now living in Cartersville, Ga., where she writes poetry. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.