Down by the Riverside

I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield,
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield,
Down by the riverside
Study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more

I’m gonna walk with that Prince of Peace,
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna walk with that Prince of Peace,
Down by the riverside
Study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more

I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb,
Down by the riverside
Study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more

An extraordinary video on Syria

A young girl’s life gets turned upside-down in this tragic second a day video. Could this ever happen in the UK? This is what war does to children. Find out more at http://bit.ly/3yearson

A Radical Expriment in Empathy

A wonderful Ted Talk by Sam Richards at TEDxPSU about empathy.

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”

–J Robert Oppenheimer, Father of the Atomic Bomb

The quote is from Vishnu (Supreme God) in the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, which I should write about sometime…

 

“War is the por…

“War is the pornography of violence.” — Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is an anti-war journalist and Christian theologian.

“You know what …

“You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”

“No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?”

“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?’ ” — Slaughter House Five

Author Kurt Vonnegut.

There will always be war, just like there will always be glaciers. Unfortunately. Why still write anti-war novels? Global warming.

 

“It doesn’t mak…

“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.” –Yossarian, Catch 22

Novel by Joseph Heller

The only good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi

This is the impression I get when I study Iraq War civilian death count statistics: that people really just don’t give a damn. Years ago, it finally struck me that I didn’t give a damn either, and I decided to find the actual statistics of how many people died. The results, or lack thereof, was shocking. I have been anti-War ever since. The total wars of our day are usually only contests of how many people you can blow up. My count so far is zero. Thank God.

I first went on to Wikipedia. The results were astounding:  the lowest toll was from US Classified logs at about 66,000…and the highest was 1.2 million. That is twenty times more. Many other estimates, and mind you all these estimates were at different time spans, ranged from a hundred thousand to six hundred thousand. To give you an idea of proportions: 3,000 American civilians died in 9/11, and 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq. Imagine if no one had to die.

The highest estimate at about 1.2 million from the Opinion Research Business agency ( ORB) is extremely controversial, and I wouldn’t put too much stress on it. The second highest number – the estimate that I am most fond of – is from the The Lanceta two hundred year old peer reviewed science journal. This estimate has also been controversial, but my emphasis is on the fact that we hardly know how many died, and not on how many died.

I highly recommend you check out the abstract of their survey. You need an account to read the whole thing (it’s free), but I’ll post a chart or two soon to give you an idea of their numbers. Basically, these guys (the only other statisticians to use this method were the ORB pollsters) actually went to Iraq, randomly selected 50 clustered blocks of 40 households from all of Iraq, and surveyed them. They asked them who they knew that died, and they tallied up the numbers. To confirm the accuracy of random Iraqi households, 87% of the time they asked for death certificates. 92% of the time certificates were produced. The other 8% is excusable: in some places at certain times death certificates were not issued, and young children weren’t always  documented. The journal has been criticized for the small poll group of 2,000 and for the polling method, but the polling was random and the death certificates were almost always provided. Perhaps their critics should be asked why they didn’t use polling numbers. Sitting on the other side of the Earth in front of a computer documenting deaths somehow seems a bit more sketchy to me.

So the Lancet Survey is quite interesting. It shows us the shocking disparity of numbers between government run statistics (the United Nations, the Iraqi government, the American government…) and independently run statistics. It shows us the shocking disparity of numbers between computer analysts that have never been to Iraq and pollsters that risked their lives. It is an awful thing for so many people to have died – and for people over here to not even care, know, or even have the ability to know. I intend to post a bit more on the Lancet Survey and what it teaches us…especially about the demographics of who was killed and when. If the survey numbers are true, the coalition forces that invaded Iraq may have caused more deaths then Saddam Hussein. If they aren’t true, they still killed a damn lot of people – and I am confident that there were better but possibly more pricey ways to not do so.

 

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED.

“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword…”

“…If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”

“A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is”

— Eddard Stark. Game of Thrones, by George RR Martin

This is one of the most powerful quotes I have read in my entire life. It has influenced much of my views and thoughts on bravery, hypocrisy, and cowardice. To think that every day we cower behind people to do our dirty work. To think that we are all hypocrites in this way: too afraid to do what we think is right with our own hands. To think that we watch bombs drop day and night on people across the globe and call it legitimate, while too afraid to do it ourselves. If we cannot bear to bring death to others with our own two hands , then perhaps those we think are worthy of death do not deserve to die.

Unless Obama was willing to explode a young teenager with his dad knowing that that was the only way to kill his father. Unless Bush was willing to shoot everyone of the hundreds of thousands people his pawns shot with his own AK-47: the innocent women, children, cripples, and clergymen that had no involvement in anything or no inclinations to violence. Unless President Bashar Al-Assad took chemical weapons with his own hands to fight the rebels of his country, or unless Mao Zedong lit fire to villages with his own matches….perhaps those people did not deserve to die.

The thousands that have been executed under our court systems, many of which died because of racism, failed court rules, or mistreatment from society, were executed behind paid executioners. The judges and the juries that sentenced them, perhaps, have forgotten what death is. The American Presidents that ordered massacres of villages and assassinations of children, perhaps, have forgotten what death is, just like the British Prime Ministers or the Saudi Arabian Kings. People like you and I, who voted in favor of this war or the other, or served in the military of this country or that: perhaps we have forgotten what death is.

Let’s not play the blame game, or equate this political leader to that one. Let’s not fight over things that happened decades ago or judge people for decisions you and I couldn’t make better. But let us remember. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.

And I don’t know about you, but I cannot bear to do that.