"If music be the food of love ... play on"
Music, whatever your favourite flavour, satisfies the soul. Music reaches the parts other beers cannot reach, allows expression and facilitates understanding; and sometimes it's just plain fun!
We are well served here by Music Diaries, maybe as testament to the fact that the above statements are true. This is a weekly Diary Series that simply takes one song, and explores some of the themes around it.
Please feel free to contribute suggestions for future weeks
Publication will be 9.00pm Central, each Wednesday, unless it isn't
We kill each other.
As a species we are pretty much unique in that respect. Other members of the animal kingdom occasionally kill each other, but rarely deliberately unless for food. We don't generally eat each other so I guess that's a blessing.
Ritual displays of prowess, and the defending of territory, are a normal part of animalian instinct. In a tough world, where food is scarce and opportunities to reproduce limited, then a certain amount of aggression is understandable. Indeed there was a time when humans too were hunter gatherers, living a hand to mouth existence and "dragging the bear back to the cave".
That was all way back. No really, a long time ago, before television. We changed from our early ancestors who went on to grow crops, make tools, discover metal and the wheel until one day we had Tablet PCs and Cellphones.
Along the way we also developed a taste for killing and I'm not sure I call that progress.
As individuals we sometimes kill another, at least with the intent to harm. Those are criminal actions not supported by either the State or society at large, and not covered by this Diary. I am concerned here with State sponsored killing of either its own citizens, or the citizens of another State.
We kill each other usually in very ritualistic ways. Capital punishment has all but been abolished in the developed world. Places like Canada, Europe, Australia no longer conduct this grisly ceremony (for ceremony it is), while some less developed nations ... China, Iran, the United States have yet to achieve that level of humanity. It's patchy, parts of the US, for example, are more self-aware than others.
All of that pales in comparison to casualties of war, and war is endemic. Since the start of the Vietnam War I don't think that there has ever been a time when the US Military has not been engaged on active service somewhere in the world. When I heard that particular statistic I was actually taken aback by it. It is in stark contrast to the other relevant fact .... Despite all the wars, with the exception of Pearl Harbor, the US has never actually been threatened on its own soil. It's fair to point out that maybe a real threat did exist, if any of the Politburo hawks were quite as hawkish as Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Personally I don't think the threat was ever much more than brinksmanship, given that most in the Politburo were more concerned with their own in-fighting to give much thought to the US. I can say that because I wasn't old enough to understand the Cuban Missile Crisis. I do know that my parents were scared.
Ideological wars are easy enough to understand. We might not agree with them, we may indeed protest against them, but we can understand how and why they happen. It's the others I have most trouble with. The War for Profit, of which the Iraq War is a prime example.
There can be no war without soldiers, and there would be no war were the profit motive removed. Iraq would not have happened if that country had no oil. In the end, that is the final damnation of that conflict. A killing spree that cost 4500 American lives, and maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, many of them non-combatants, and all so that oil companies could steal the mineral wealth of yet another country.
Oh, and because Tony Blair reads Daily Kos (of course he does), I have this to say to you:
"It is to your eternal shame that an intelligent and articulate Labour leader, with the country behind him, was so blinded by the trappings of Washington that you set aside your better judgement and uncritically chose to follow a madman to war. You will spend the rest of your life atoning for the lives lost, the families shattered and, let us not deny it, the cost and the price of your folly".
Without a ridiculously profitable Military Industrial Complex wars would be infrequent rather than perpetual. We will not stop the US going to war until we remove the profiteers, and their campaign dollars, from the political process.
And that brings me to the Song of the Week.
This one is a message not to the governments of the world, although they may choose to hear it. Rather it is a song for the brave, the soldiers, the ones who risk the most and all too often pay the ultimate price:
Universal Soldier, words and music by Donovan
He's five foot-two, and he's six feet-four,
He fights with missiles and with spears.
He's all of thirty-one, and he's only seventeen,
Been a soldier for a thousand years.
He'a a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain,
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew.
And he knows he shouldn't kill,
And he knows he always will,
Kill you for me my friend and me for you.
And he's fighting for Canada,
He's fighting for France,
He's fighting for the USA,
And he's fighting for the Russians,
And he's fighting for Japan,
And he thinks we'll put an end to war this way.
And he's fighting for Democracy,
He's fighting for the Reds,
He says it's for the peace of all.
He's the one who must decide,
Who's to live and who's to die,
And he never sees the writing on the wall.
But without him,
How would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone,
He's the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war,
And without him all this killing can't go on.
He's the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away no more,
They come from here and there and you and me,
And brothers can't you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.
8:42 PM PT: Thanks to und83 in the comments for clarifying that Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote this classic song. The Donovan cover was the version I remember, and Wikipedia is broken today :)