This was the question I and a fellow Veteran For Peace asked folks as they entered and exited the Montpelier post office Saturday morning; we tallied up the results on a flip chart covered with plastic to keep off the melting snow. The whole point of our being out there was to respond to the escalation towards war in the Middle East.
We felt, given the wide division in the country now, it would be good to engage folks in conversation and maybe bridge the gap a bit.
As we tallied up the results, which finalized at 95 for peace and one for war, we would point to the mounting tally for peace and ask, “If (almost) everybody is for peace, why are we at war?” With many folks, this would lead to some interesting comments and discussion:
There are bad guys out there.
Why isn’t Congress representing the people?
Congress gave away its war-making power to the president after 9/11.
The president can designate who is a terrorist and assassinate them.
There are bills in both houses of Congress to take back its war-making power.
It all started with the U.S. abandoning the nuclear deal with Iran.
It’s because of economic sanctions. It’s warfare without bullets and explosives.
We have to protect our troops.
We have put our troops in harm’s way.
Why are we in the Middle East? Are we not self-sufficient in oil and gas now?
This question is like asking: “Are you for health or sickness?”
These are just a sample of the comments that often led to further and deeper conversation. The last comment or question in the above list got me to thinking a bit more. Why do we choose to eat all that sugar-sweetened stuff when it’s not good for us and leads to sickness? Are we hard-wired to go for honey? Are we hard-wired to use war instead of diplomacy to resolve our problems?
The one person who was for war did not stop to talk and we respected his decision to engage no further as we did with others who were in a hurry or on a mission to get their business done.
Veterans For Peace is doing these kinds of actions in the sincere hope such conversations will lead to a better understanding of why we are at war, and how we, the U.S. and other nations of the world, might see ways to be more peaceful and act on them.
Richard Czaplinski is president of Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace Chapter 57 in Warren.