This Memorial Day, like Memorial Days past, has prompted numerous social media reminders and public memorial services for us to honor and not forget those who have given all. And it is well and good that we should do so.
However, my mind has been reeling all weekend. I think I have grasped part of what is making it whirl. Memorial Day degenerates into sheer sentimentalism (which assuages our guilty consciences for having put people in harm’s way) unless we, individually and corporately, take steps here and now to end the madness which is was. Sentimentalizing the day also allows the military-industrial-congressional complex to promote militarism–camo at ball games, etc…
We will never be one country under God until we heed biblical imperatives. Like Israel, we somehow see ourselves as God’s chosen (as if the God who created all would favor one nation over all others!) but we forget that God’s promise has a big IF attached to it—if you, Israel, follow the Torah, God’s biblical demands, if you America heed biblical principles. Even then (and now) there (is) was an overarching condition to chosenness. You are chosen so you can bring all other nations to God’s holy mountain. Unfortunately, too many nations from time immemorial have used the sword to compel belief in God. You bring yourself and all others to God’s holy mountain by living as God would have you (us) live. If you “love one another and love your enemies!” The biblical imperative Is strongest in this and two other key passages. Isaiah admonished Israel “to turn swords into plow shares.” Jesus of Nazareth wants his followers to “have life and to have life in abundance.” God wants us to choose life not death (war is the culture of death on steroids!).
The best way we can honor those who have served is to work to end the war madness that kills and wounds (the walking wounded among us as PTDS is rampant and has led
to many suicides).
Many of us enjoy the benefits of war in a blatant culture of conspicuous consumerism while the rest (here and there) live less than human lives. Perpetual war only benefits the multinationals (including ever-greedy defense contractors) and politicians (who make false promises about making us secure—if only they could truly make us secure).
The Memorial Day let us resolve to end war (turn nukes and drones into plow shares) and then set about the work of enabling the “least among us” and them (the others we want to wall out of our world) the ability to live decent human lives (food, drink, clothing, shelter, education and health care (why are we so willing to fund bloated defense projects while issuing calls to end Affordable Healthcare, aka, Obamacare?). If we were to divert defense funds to alleviating human misery here and there, we would have a culture of life and a lot fewer people would dislike us and want to cause us harm.
The easiest first step may to speak out about biblical imperatives and then to slowly disconnect from our consumer culture of death. Next we can demand that our politicians extricate us from perpetual war and the death culture that sustains it. Just do it now!