Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

It comes home

I have just returned from a week at scout camp. In many ways, it was a typical such week (I’ve done 12 of them), with an occasional fight to break up, some homesickness to work through, and a hydrophobic scout that we finally got in the pool. In some ways it was atypical: horribly hot weather, (when it wasn’t raining cats and dogs), and some exceptionally good first year scouts, who came through the week much more smoothly than I’ve ever seen.

One event however made this a unique, and sad, camp experience.

On Thursday word came that three PA National Guardsmen had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. One of those was a 19 year old. An eagle scout, he had been active in Bucks County scouting activities, and had served on the staff of the camp we attended for three years. I will never forget the grief I saw on the faces of the young adults who work at that camp. Nor will I forget the bravery with which they hid their grief from the campers, and continued to make that program the best it could be.

One of my sons realized on Friday night that he knew the guardsman in question. The name didn’t ring a bell, but my son had been to a week long junior leader training program with him, and had maintained some contacts playing computer games, as teenagers do. On that Friday night I found myself holding my 16 year-old son as he sobbed in my shoulder, realizing his friend – who two years ago was just another teenager – was gone.

The grief surrounding this one death was overwhelming. I am sure though that what I was exposed to was no more than a tenth of the people who knew this person and mourned his loss. The thought of how much this one loss hurt multiplied by the 1850 or so american dead in this war is staggering. How many hundreds of thousands must be mourning their fallen beloved. That in itself pales before the grief which must surround the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead. No matter how different we may be, I am sure Iraqi’s love their sons, fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers as much as we do.

I am a pacifist. I oppose the use of force not because it is an easy solution, but because it is a hard one. It is what Godand Christ have commanded however. Given that, I have nothing but love and can do nothing but honor those who see the world differently, and are willing to risk their lives for principles they hold dear. Our volunteer soldiers are the best our country has to offer, potentially laying down their lives for the love of their country. This scout was one of these. The country, and the world, is the worse for his loss.

At the same time I can do nothing but despise and hold despicable those who lie to lead this country into an unnecessary war making the world worse, not better, simply for political reasons. There are no greater traitors than those who will sacrifice this country’s finest people unnessarily or for mere political gain.

Among these traitors I count George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, and a host of others. When the children of these people are fighting, and dying, in Iraq I will believe their motives are true. None of these people were willing to serve themselves though, let alone risk their sons and daughters. Their machinations to stay out of Viet Nam are well documented.

I also hold as traitors those young republicans who support the president and this war. It is easy to be a chicken-hawk on campus. If you truly feel this cause is just, then enlist. Our services are desperate to meet their recruitment goals. You can help. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, and feel that the fighting and dying for this war you support is for the little people, not you, then simply shut up. You are as despicable as the government you support.

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