Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The First Casualty

"Well it's happened, the first of my daughter's friends who are currently serving in Afghanistan was wounded. He was in an explosion and got shrapnel in his eye. They don't know if he will regain his sight or not. This current deployment is only a month old and already there have been, including Sarah's friend, about 6 men injured in that period of time. They are there for 6-9 months. At this rate there could be 36 to 54 wounded in that period of time. And then there will be the dead. Why can't men find another way to solve their differences, rather than by killing and destroying?" I whisper.

Are you listening?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Quote from the Dalai Lama

"May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A quide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.

Think what the world would be like if we would all be like this," I whisper.

Are you listening?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Memories of War

"Today the Fredericton Peace Coalition held a "Bring Our Troops Home" rally in conjunction with those being held all across Canada and the United States on the fourth anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq. Here is the speech I gave.

I was born 49 years ago tomorrow in a little fishing village on the
west coast of British Columbia, the first member of my mother’s
family in over 300 years to be born outside of the United States.
Growing up I remember my mother talking about her mother
who was born just 22 years after the American Civil War, an
event she always referred to as “the late, great unpleasantness”. My mother, in talking about her own life,would tell us about the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. She came out of a movie theatre to hear that her country was at war. She spend her early adult years building bombers and fighter planes that would be used to bomb Europe and the Japanese into submission. My father, when he would talk about the war, would tell us of his time on navy ships, about watching kamikaze pilots crash into the ship next to his. Both my parents would talk about the holocaust and the destruction of Europe. As a child I couldn’t understand why they seemed so focused on war. It wasn’t until years later, I realized that I was born only 11 years after the end of WWII and that to my parents, it wasn’t a distant event but one that was an integral part of their lives.

My parents and grandparents had their lives impacted by wars
that happened either before their time or during their adult lives. My memories are different. A great number of my childhood memories are of war. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the grass in the front yard of our home surrounded by four leaf clovers. My father told us, that rather than being a sign of good luck, they were the result of above ground testing of nuclear bombs, that was causing mutations to occur in all forms of live, all around the world.

My next strong memories are of new families moving into our
little valley, families of American draft dodgers, escaping a war in a far distant land, made welcome by Canada. Newsreels, this was before everyone had tv and one saw the news played out days or weeks after the fact, in shorts before movies,started to show this war. One became used to the throb of helicopters, the sight of wounded soldiers and dead bodies before you watched the movie you had come to see. A staple of my childhood, Life magazine, made memories of pictures of horror, villages bombed, bodies lying in heaps, soldiers weeping over the dead and children, forever immortalised as naked bodies, running down the road covered in Napalm.

And then we moved across that ocean that seperated us from this war, to New Zealand, a green and quiet land. And new memories were added, physical fights with other children who did not understand that we were Canadians, not Americans. That our country was not involved in this war (or so we thought at the time). That we were the good guys, we welcomed those who opposed the war and gave them a home.

As years past more memories accumulated, names from another
world became part of my vocabulary: Viet Nam, The Tet
offensive, the Ho Chi Minh trail, gooks, tunnel rats, Viet Cong,
the My Lai (mee lye)massacre, Lt.William Calley, Saigon, Kent
State, POW’s, MIA’s, napalm and Agent Orange.

We returned to North America, settling in Salt Lake City where
my friends had brothers and cousins wounded and killed in that
far off land. They wore bracelets with the names of those soldiers missing in action. They told stories of brothers maimed by little children who blew themselves up with hand granades so that American GI’s would die.

Then on April 30, 1975, as I watched tv, I saw a picture that has
stayed with me my whole life, the evacuation of the American
Embassy as Saigon fell to the Vietcong. Rather than the
humilation felt by many Americans, I felt only an ovearwhelming
sense of relief. My young cousin, living in California, would not
have to be drafted, would not go to war, would not die in some
far off land. He would live, unlike the thousands of others, in
both the United States and Vietnam, who died for nothing.

My life went on, I grew up, went to university, married and had
children, a son and a daughter. On January 16, 1991 I was
working in Eaton’s Department store. The day was quiet, on the
entire bottom level of the store there was not a single customer.
It was as if the world was holding it’s breath. As a deadline crept
nearer clerks from all over the store congregated in the
electronics department and waited for another war to begin. At
about 5pm, we began to see the first pictures of Operation Desert Storm, the Gulf war had begun. My son was 8, my daughter 6 years old. For the next 4 months their memories were made of war, of destruction, of the dead. Then the world began to breath again and life went on. Of course there were other wars and other atrocities including Rawanda and it’s horrors, Croatia and Canada’s involvement. But nothing that really touched us, safe here in North America, in Canada.

Then one morning I woke to my son’s urgent voice, “Mommy,
you have to wake up, something horrible has happened.” My
daughter, in the fog of early morning sleepiness had thought that
the same movie was playing on every channel. My son, a little
more awake, realised that the world had changed. September 11,
2001. Planes flying into towers and buildings, bravery beyond
believe, sadness and tears, fear and anger. My children’s world
became a different place, their memories of war and destruction
added to and reinforced. Their world become a place of fear, an
armed camp, a world divided into “them” and “us”. For the past
6 years the news has only been of more war, of more terrorism,
of more death. The invasion of Afghanistan, of Iraq. The
bombings in Bali and London.

Canada, leaving it’s peace keeping missions behind and
becoming an active participant in this war. Canadian snipers in
Afghanistan, earning the “honor” in 2001, of breaking the sniper
long distance kill record, set by an American Marine, in that long
ago war of my childhood. Memories accumulating, my
daughter’s friend Woody, coming home from Afghanistan, not
with honor, but only dead. Now, we wait, wondering, who else
among her friends and aquaintances will come home in a coffin,
how many more friends’ funerals will she attend? 1 out of 10
dead, 1 out of 6 wounded. This is what we, as Canadians, are
told we can expect from this war. This war that is marketed as a
way for us to help the Afghan people even though, upon the
invasion, Canada’s reasons for participating were to defend
Canada's national interests; ensure Canadian leadership in world
affairs; and lastly to help Afghanistan rebuild.

My memories, my children’s memories of war, of death, of fear,
of “them”and of “us”. When will it end? 5 weeks from now I
will become a grandmother. This new life will enter a world
where once again memories will be made that involve war. How
many will have died in this other far off land by the time this
child is aware? How many bombs will fall, how many land mines
laid and exploded, how many “suicide bombers” will take
another soldier’s life, leave others wounded , how many children
will bury brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers or friends. How long
will the people of Afghanistan have their land ripped apart, their
lives destroyed, their memories corrupted by war? I look at my
daughter, ready to give birth, I think of my grandbaby coming
into this world, I look at the children here today and I am
reminded of a song from my childhood, not great music, not
even great words, but true. “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be my pride and joy”. As Canadian mothers this needs to be our anthem, this needs to be our ralling cry. Our sons and daughters are not fodder for war, we don’t want their memories to be those of death and pain and fear. We want our children here, at home, not dying in some foreign land or killing someone else’s sons and daughters. It is time that we as mothers, say “no more”. It is time we demand as our right, no more war, no more loss of our children, no more children whose memories are forever impacted by war. It is time to demand of our government that this stops here and now, that our children come home. That Canada brings it’s troops home. Brings them home now.

Too many deaths", I whisper.

Are you listening?

Friday, March 16, 2007


"Wow, I have had more hits in the past two days over my posting on Teddy Bears than I sometimes get in a couple of months! I have a couple of comments though for those who have posted comments. I hope that they will answer them.

First Comment: This is to Jennifer. My husband works for the military. He has talked to men who have served in Afghanistan, he has friends who are there now. They all say that things are not changing there, but only getting worse. I never said anything about the individuals in the military NOT helping the Afghan people. I know they do. That is not what my blog was about. Also, yes, I am fortunate that I can speak my mind, even if it does get edited. The Irving connection was edited out of the Daily Gleaner, our local paper, because ALL of the papers in New Brunswick are owned by Irving. They have tight control over what gets printed. Very rarely do anti war articles or letters make it into the paper. There is definitely censorship here in New Brunswick. As to your comment about women in Afghanistan, if you had read a previous posting I wrote on the war, it specifically mentioned the women of Afghanistan. Since the invasion, life has gotten tremendously worse for the women there. The current government, under the auspice of NATO (of which we are a part) and the United States is working on bringing back into effect the laws that govern women that were in force under the Taliban. "As Muslims, we have a strong book, the Holy Koran, and we believe in the Koran, we don't believe in the Constitution," says Haji Ahmed Fareid, a religious scholar and parliamentarian when commenting on bring back into law Sharia, the extreme laws that govern Muslims behaviour, especially that of women. All one has to do is read articles and papers written by the women of Afghanistan, such as Malalai Joya, to understand that things are not better but in fact, in some cases are worse.

On another note, why would you assume that I am Christian?

Second Comment: This is to Frank Gordon. Yes, I am ex military and have never had a problem getting help, in fact I am on a disability pension. And while my letter was about the need for help for the real victims of this war, the Afghan people, my main concern was the use of a childs toy, decorated as a killer, which is what soldiers in wartime are, being used to raise funds for families that have access to all different kinds of help, while the people of Afghanistan suffer from hunger, lack of water, lack of medical aid, in fact, the very basic neccesities for life. My question is, why should the public donate money to men and their families who have VOLUNTARILY chosen this career. They are not doing this for their country, or in most cases (I speak from the position of one who hears what the men going to Afghanistan say)to better the life of the Afghan people, but for the extra money, tax free, that they will receive; and as some so elequently state (sarcasm intended) "to kill ragheads". The people of Afghanistan did NOT ask for this war, we invaded THEIR country, The soldiers DID ask for this job, after all they voluntarily enlisted. Forgive me if I don't weep for them, the only "victims" in this country will be their children, not even their spouses, who knowingly married men and women in the military and therefore must accept the consequences of their actions.

Third Comment: This is for Honeypot. I suggest you read something other than just your local newspapers. I do. I read the local paper as well as other Canadian papers. I read papers from around the world. I read things written by the Afghan people themselves. Do you? As to your refering to me as "dumber than dogshit", I find it interesting that people who are disagree with a peace based approach to solving problems seem unable to express their opinion without becoming personal in their attacks. And as for your comment that I am a "misguided unappreciative nimrod" well, I must admit, I do NOT appreciate my country invading other countries, killing innocent civilians, bombing people's homes into oblivion, all in my name. If that makes me a "misguided unappreciative nimrod" then YES I am!!!

Fourth Comment: This is to rottenmonkey. Because I do not believe that we should have troops in Afghanistan does NOT mean that I agree with the Taliban. However, they haven't come here and killed my family, bombed my house, destroyed my livelihood. Perhaps if you read my posting "Opinion Piece", you can find the link on the right hand side of my blog, you would see that I think that dialogue, conversation, an active effort to get the people of Afghanistan to solve their own problems would be more effective than using guns, tanks and bombs to change peoples minds. I don't know about you, but when someone tries to force me to do something, I resist much harder, than when they convince me by logic and thoughtful example.

Have a great day everyone. I will." I whisper.

Are you listening>

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Teddy Bears, War and Personal Opinion

"Here's a letter I wrote to our local newspaper.

Last week I walked into the Irving on the New Maryland Highway and was horrified to see that they were selling teddy bears dressed in combat gear as a fundraiser for the Halifax Family Resource Centre, the support group for military families. Teddy Bears, asymbol of childhood and comfort, are given to children traumitised by acts of violence and here they are portrayed as those doing the violence. This seems so morally wrong to me.

Military families in Canada have a huge support system within the military, plus they have all the benefits that a society like ours gives, pensions, death benefits, disability benefits, rehabilitation, life insurance, you name it, these military families will not be left without if and when their family members are injured or killed in this war, which we are supposedly fighting to "help" the people of Afghanistan.

I would suggest that this fund raiser, instead of supporting these families, be used toraise funds for the families of those Afghans killed and wounded who do not have theluxury of life insurance, disability insurance etc. I challenge the governments of themaritimes, both provincial and local, who are in support of this war; the corporations of the maritimes, like Irving, that are supporting it and the people of the maritimes, both military and non military who give their support , to put their money where their mouth is and raise money for the real victims of this war, the people of Afghanistan. Donate to groups that are directly invoved with the people of Afghanistan, donate to Afghan groups that are helping their own people. In fact, start with the fundraiser for RAWA that is being held Thursday evening from 8 until 10pm at the Tilley Hall Auditorium - UNB Fredericton. Lets see how much the people of the Maritimes really want to “support” the people of Afghanistan.

Have had some really negative responses like on this blog : Dust my Broom.

What do you think about this issue?" I whisper.

Are you listening?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How Rare Is Your Personality?

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ISTP)

Your personality type is reserved, methodical, spirited, and intense.

Only about 6% of all people have your personality, including 3% of all women and 8% of all men

You are Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving.