Mar 172013

A Personal Reaction to the Impending War
Katherine Vinluan-Arellano

Mother, Career-woman

 I was in the third grade when a teacher asked us to write an essay about wars. I researched extensively about the topic — discovered the nuclear arms race and saw pictures of people dying in battles. I was shocked. Among other things, I remember being so surprised about seeing pictures of dead women and children — I had thought only soldiers die in wars.

Facts combined with the imagination of a child, and I wrote about what I envisioned to be an unlimited nuclear third world war, even accompanying it with a sketch of how the few, evolved human beings that would survive such a war would look like. “Evolved” because I thought that our natural defense mechanisms would enable some of us to develop attributes and aptitudes for some things that were not within human capability before, e.g. living on other forms of gas instead of oxygen, having reptile-like skin, etc. The picture that drew itself in my mind was gross and scary.

What I learned when I wrote my first seriously-researched essay affected me immensely. For a few years, on and off, I had nightmares about wars, which, before then, symbolized glorious occasions of heroism to me because of the war stories that my grandmother used to tell me. I realized, then, that she kept the dark side of wars from me, focusing on the bravery of her war heroes and her own war “adventures.”

In time, the war nightmares disappeared, and I learned to chuckle at the memory of my essay, which I then dismissed as my early attempt at science fiction. What has remained, however, since my grade school days, is my hard-line position against wars, particularly against nuclear weapons.

To this day, I’ve held on to the conclusions I formed when I was nine years old — that there is no excuse for wars in a civilized world; and, that the development of nuclear weapons would ultimately lead to the downfall of humanity and civilization as we know them — no matter how some people rationalize the need for nuclear arms development for defense, balance of world power and prevention of large-scale wars. On the contrary, by intent, design or accident, nuclear wars could lead to an unlimited war like no other in our past, even combining the first and second world wars.

In spite of being highly aware of the evils of greed and corruption, I grew up to be quite idealistic. I believe that man is generally, basically good. I believe in God, family, brotherhood and democracy. I believe that most governments derive their power from the people they represent and protect – and when they stop being just leaders and public servants, I believe in people power and non-violent means to correct such a situation — so I joined the EDSA I revolution even against the will of my family, even when I was pregnant, to support the election results that should have been enough to overthrow our dictator, Marcos.

I believe that industrial development is good — in fact, I enjoy having a career in the world of business. I believe, too, that when man commits great folly, God would intervene, rendering Divine Mercy and Divine Justice. And, then, all will be right again. Of course, I often close my mind to the fact that before there could be peace, there could be absolute chaos, first.

After 35 years, I find nightmares about war haunting me again. Only this time, the probability of war is looming just around the corner, instead of being some future possibility that I and my children may not even witness. I find everything I believe in and hold dear, threatened.

The scenario in my mind: U.S. and Great Britain attack Iraq in violation of the U.N. The fact, alone, that the U.S. and Great Britain could so blatantly violate the U.N. renders the U.N. an inept body — it collapses. Some countries begin to pursue their own self-interest, even to the extent of violating the rights of the rest of the world; others are forced into aggressive defense. It’s absolute power play and the ones in command would be those with nuclear weapons. North Korea will launch its own war of aggression. Muslim nations would bond together — after all, Iraq is to the Muslims what Rome is to Catholics; and, the victims of the U.S.-Great Britain attacks would be mostly children and women (some 60-70% of Iraq’s population). Canada, France and Germany, possibly aligning with Muslim countries, will be allies against U.S.-Great Britain-Israel and possibly Spain, Australia and Japan. China, India and Russia would join the war, probably against the U.S and its allies. Alliances could keep drastically changing, depending on one’s assessment of where lies one’s best chance for survival.

Nuclear weapons could be deployed from the very start — the first strike being deemed all important to prevent a large-scale war. Maybe that would work, if not for the fact that other countries could retaliate, to fight for their ideals (after all, for some people, the death of their ideologies and freedoms is worse than physical death) or avenge the death of innocent victims or simply to punish the aggressor. So, it would seem that the one who deals the first strike must strike against all countries with nuclear weapons, simultaneously. But, how does one contain the ill effects of such massive nuclear attacks?

Although not a religious war, religion would play a good part. An attack against Muslims, especially involving their women and children, is an attack against the whole of humanity. Islam is the second largest religion in the world, estimated to have 20% share of total world population – most of whom are in Asia and Africa; yet, even in the U.S., Great Britain and France, Islam is the second largest religion. Besides, Israel may have forgotten it, but the world rallied against the attack on the Jews, won’t it rally against an unprovoked attack on Muslims, especially if the real motive behind such an attack is detrimental to the world’s best interest?

Why? Why must this war happen? Ask most people and they don’t want war – that includes many Americans and most British, save for some people who have been brainwashed into thinking that war is necessary for their national security and for world peace. Some governments, like the Bush government, do — eager for their share of the spoils of war; utilizing military power supported by media propaganda to gain global economic power — rescuing itself from economic doom — at the expense of others, by legitimizing stealing from their neighbors. Perhaps, rationalizing that the world is overpopulated anyway — let the weak die; the strong will survive.

Some governments, like the Philippine government, need to support this war so as not to incur the ire of their Western masters who hold their country’s economic purse strings, or in the hope that the powers that will be would throw a few crumbs their way, in payment for having made sacrificial lambs of their own citizens. But, will these powers even do that? Remember that the U.S. had terrorized us even at peace time – what more during war? After being tenants for 100 years, the U.S. bases simply left behind their toxic wastes – the U.S. government has refused to be accountable for these, have given nothing for their removal, and have not given even token amounts to the hundreds of people, mostly children, who are dying from these toxic wastes — not even to the families of those that had died already. Even if they do, we have a Tagalog saying “Aanuhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kalabaw?” – roughly translated, “Of what use is grass to a dead carabao?”

It has been said so many times that this war is for oil. This war is for the benefit of the war and weapons industry. Yes, this is Government and Industry against the peoples of the world. Rather than protect their citizens, these governments use them. Rather than for human development, Industry destroys man and civilization. All for the benefit of the few powerful individuals who are obsessed with ruling the world. Unchecked, these people would, indeed, rule the world. Therefore, once started, this war on Iraq would quickly spread as many countries would not willingly give up their rights.

That is, sadly, what globalization comes down to. One world, ruled by a few men in power, where the great majority, bereft of all but the freedom to fear, becomes their servants and slaves. There would be such massive destruction that humanity would be put at the service of technology, instead of the other way around. In fact, even now, for example, we are being made to consume genetically modified organisms (GMOs), even while the medium- or long-term effects of such are still undetermined. Why? It is profitable for the producers and distributors; those who own the new technology. Even now, human cloning, some claim, has become a reality.

With the ejection of God and religion from many schools in the West; the worship of television and celebrities apparently more prevalent, among the youth, than the worship of God; with media pounding us with calls for patriotism while we don’t hear much said about other values, like compassion and equality; with our getting used to drugs, crimes, children getting abused and murdered – we are slowly, albeit, unconsciously, learning to put little value on human life. In such an environment, power-hungry, wealth-obsessed individuals could, indeed, easily take mankind anywhere – letting us pay for immediate, temporary, short-term forms of gratification with everything we have, life included. So what if they lead us to war? So what if the war will kill mostly children? “That’s a necessary step to protect my own children. It’s their children or mine – let it be theirs” – so goes their reasoning. But, is it really just theirs? How much time do you think you’d have before such a war hits your home?

To prevent attacks on the U.S., like the 911, the U.S. must attack Afghanistan and now Iraq to disarm them – or so the U.S. claims. If that is the real intent, why not use the U.S. intelligence and secret forces to assassinate individuals who threaten world peace? Why don’t the U.S. take on North Korea, which openly admits to having weapons of mass destruction? Why can’t all Americans see that it’s the U.S.’ unjustified attack on Iraq that would bring many countries against the U.S. and probably attack it in worse ways than the 911 attack?

I believe that God, by whatever Name we call Him, will not allow the total destruction of mankind. Some good people would survive, though I don’t want to stress myself up further, thinking of what adaptation or mutation man could undergo to survive a nuclear war. Nature will heal itself. There will be so much change, yes. At some point, there will be a going back to the basics, a reformation of values. There will even be new forms of religion and new forms of government, emerging. Maybe, it won’t be called Democracy — how could these survivors fight for “democracy” when it was in its name that mass destruction happened? Whatever they are going to be called — truth, freedom with responsibility, self-determination, justice, and goodness will slowly re-surface as will the indestructible forces of faith, hope and love. Order will rise out of chaos. Peace will reign again.

A Buddhist friend told me — “Whatever is meant to happen would happen. The movement towards absolute chaos had started long ago. Let it happen quick so peace could rise after the chaos, sooner than later. It’s just cause and effect and the laws of nature. After dark, comes the light.”

My heart cries. Must light go out in our time? In our children’s time? In our grandchildren’s time? Must light go out at all? Haven’t we reached the state of civilization and wisdom that we could prevent chaos, and attain peace through peaceful means?

Another friend, a Catholic, says, “If that were so, earth would be heaven, but earth is closer to hell than to heaven.”

Yet, in my heart, the candles of hope, faith and love, burn. The majority of the world’s human inhabitants could prevent chaos – how? I don’t know. But, maybe, we should do more than quietly pray. No matter what our religion is, maybe the world should simply get together and use the most powerful weapon against evil, prayer. Maybe we should elevate this problem up to Him and say with complete humility – “God, this is beyond my ken, please take over.” Then, pray to the All Mighty One — “Please, let there be peace on Earth.”

Maybe God would put all warmongers and greedy individuals in another planet in another galaxy! Now, there’s a nice dream.

Let us take a stand for peace and against this war. This war is a crime against humanity and democracy. It is wrong because it is destructive, not beneficial, to the majority of the peoples of the world. It is like the Vietnam War – only on a global scale, with far more irreversible destruction because of the weapons of mass destruction that many countries have developed. War casualties would include the United Nations, Democracy and the principle of Self-Determination, and the prospects of Man’s survival. Its casualties could include you and me, and the people near and dear to us.

This war is the Terror that must be quelled, and its proponents are the real terrorists!


The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Mar 19th 2003




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