It was just ten years ago that the war in Iraq began, and during that time close to 4,500 US Soldiers died and well over 30,000 were injured. This does not include a much bigger number of those who suffer from PTSD. The figure for Iraqis is many, many times higher. We have learned, once again, that war is hell, and it is unsure if the cost is worth it. The war cost about $800 billion. Iraq is freer now than before, but perhaps that would have happened in any case. There is no way to do historical experiments – try two ways of doing things and then judge the outcome.
These really are unsettling times. Gun violence has not lessened, and more and more people now own guns, especially powerful guns, guns designed for violence against humans. It is not the hunting rifles that are being sold; it is assault type weapons and handguns. The US Senate does not have the courage to ban unnecessary weapons. More deaths will be the assured result. There is what can only be called a war on women going on – the absolutely unforgivable assault on Planned Parenthood, and the ability of women to choose an abortion, the diabolical “personhood” law attempts. It just means that women, and especially poor women, will have less access to health care, and will suffer more.
The economy is still unsettling and so many live in anxiety. I hear your stories about this on a regular basis. The earth is still being spoiled – I am reading a book called Arctic Voice about the ruining of the far north, mostly by oil companies. Inuit women have the highest percentage of toxic substances in their bodies of any people on earth, and by some measures, the breast milk of Greenlander Inuit women is a toxic substance.
Some of this is the result of our headlong desire for wealth and pleasure – the go-go 90s, the 80 hour work week, the ignoring family for work. I find it encouraging that more and more young people – not my generation but those who are following, are choosing meaning over money. They are choosing work for its value, not for the income. It seems like every other young person I know(in their 20s) is choosing social work or something similar for a career. In my 20s, it was law and business and medicine. Not every one of course, but lots.
More parents are staying hone, at least part time with their children. This is a good thing. I even think the revival of beer is a sign – rather than the high end wines of a decade earlier, beer – a proletarian drink if there ever was one – is having a renaissance.
We are a community of meaning, so this can be our time. At least I hope so. It takes all of us to do this, create a community of meaning.. You all keep me from despair and bring me hope for the future. In the words of a transformative leader “Yes we can.” Yes, we can create meaning. It is a whole lot better than money.
P.S. And, oh yes, Happy Spring!
Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson