Friday, April 13, 2007

This piece by Alastair McIntosh is an inspiration in light of last night's Channel 4 Drama The Mark of Cain . I think a lot about the Military with a mixture of distaste for Army Culture and guilt that I've never had to face hardships on the same scale: the pressures placed on soldiers and their families; the internal politics; what it must take to motivate oneself. The programme (although only a work of contentious drama)confirmed some of my worst preconceptions about the army and the people who make it up: mindlessly obedient, Machiavellian, politically motivated, and every character was either a moral coward or a bully.

My time in America taught me that some organizations are very good at convincing people that to disagree with their institutional values, is to be a weaker person. I think this is especially true of the military. I saw a picture in a Facebook group two days ago of General Tommy Franks with a speech bubble saying something like: "Next time you're home, and you see an anti-war protestor, shake his hand, and as you walk away, wink at his girlfriend because she knows she's dating a pussy." Then there is the cartoon that draws a scrawny crop-haired young man alongside a hulking, fully-kitted soldier. The young man has PEACE written on his t-shirt and the flower in his hand is drooping because of the stink lines coming off him. The soldier is carrying a little, dark-skinned girl (presumably away from danger) and the caption reads "Who has done more for world peace"?

Here are two of my favourite extracts from McIntosh's essay. These should lend insight into why he's such an inspiration.

"Violence, it is true, only understands violence, and it gets confused and has to think twice when faced with the opposite."

"If violence is the absence of love, nonviolence is about the presence of relationship. It is the means of connection with that which gives life.

That is why it's hard to explain in prosaic language why nonviolence matters and from where it derives its power. It's why many of those who argue for peace have difficulty in completing their arguments. The argument starts in this world, but doesn't end there. The suffering that we voluntarily take on is a birth pang, and you have to trust to life beyond life to get to full delivery. You have to remember that the greater part of our being can never be killed, and that God is always on the side of the suffering."


Anonymous said...

Hello Kevin ~
I just spent a great half-hour listening to (and watching) your musicianship. Delightful!

My favourite guitarists are probably John Williams, Paco Pena and Horacio Salinas - and was at a concert in Vina del Mar when all three performed together at an Inti Illimani concert. And at a 'Victor Jara Memorial Concert' in London, on the Thames.

I'm glad to see you follow Chris and Nick's blogs (LJ) - they both spent time with me recently in Vancouver. I'm sure you read and followed Nick's adventures - teaching English in China. He used his guitar as another way of communicating with the youngsters he taught - and frisbees!

Tom Routledge (cool_moose)

Kevin said...

I introduced myself to Nick towards the end of his teaching adventure in China in December 05. I've benefited a lot over the past year being able to bounce ideas off this circle of bloggers and no doubt you're support will be even more important when I'm in China