I am not the only international guest speaking at the rallies against nukes and for world peace here in Hiroshima, Japan—a pediatrician from Iraq was also invited—Dr. Hassan.
Dr. Hassan has seen and is treating numerous cancers and other problems in children stemming from the US invasion and occupation and the use of conventional weapons coated with depleted uranium, or DU.
U-238 (DU) has civilian uses, but is also used to strengthen shields or as armor piercing coating on bombs and bullets. The US Army estimates that U-238 emits 60% of the radiation of pure uranium. DU is a byproduct of nuclear fission.
It has never been difficult for me to extrapolate the sorrow over my son’s death in Iraq to the horror experienced on a daily basis by the people of Iraq. My tragedy has been replayed millions of times over in that country. It’s not difficult for me to imagine the horribleness of being a pediatrician who sees so many of his patients terribly ill with a lack of medicine, electricity and supplies to help them. I have a deep loathing of the government and war profiteers of the US, but how much more would that feeling be increased if I lived in Iraq (or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Libya, or fill-in-the-blank).
Dr. Hassan wanted to meet with me after last night’s rally at which we both spoke. His hostility and hatred of me was palpable and painful, but he asked me a very simple question prefaced by this statement:
“After two gulf wars and a dozen years of economic sanctions, your country has devastated my country.”
“Yes,” I agreed with him.
“Why do American mothers send their children to kill others?”
I can’t be mad at Dr. Hassan for hating me because I totally agree with him and I have lain awake night after night asking myself the same question and beating myself up for not being as aggressive as I should have been in stopping Casey. I can’t ask Dr. Hassan to forgive me when I cannot ever forgive myself.
Why do we do it?
I could tell Dr. Hassan that I didn’t want my son, Casey, to go, or even join the Army. I could tell him that Casey didn’t want to go and told everyone that he couldn’t kill anyone before he left—and as a mechanic was hoping he would never have to. I explained to Dr. Hassan that I was very proud of Casey for being a conscientious objector at the end and was literally dragged to the mission that killed him.
But, none of these explanations or rationalizations even comes close to answering the Doctor’s question.
Why did Iraqi mothers send their sons to kill Iranians and vice-versa? Why did British mothers send their sons to kill Afghans? Why did Japanese mothers allow their sons to kill Americans, and vice versa?
Why did mothers of the North allow their sons to kill sons from the South—and, again, vice versa?
The examples of brokenhearted mothers watching their children march off to insane wars began by the war profiteers and their toady politicians fill countless of bookshelves.
Why do any of us do it?
We can say, “propaganda,” “Patriotism,” “fear,” “racism,” “conscription,” “poverty;” or a myriad of other lame excuses, but the bottom line is, not that our sons and daughters are killed or maimed, but that they do the dirty work of others—and become something that we mothers rarely train them to be: killers.
War will only stop when we mothers stop it.
“Just look at the strong, fine, young body–because only the BEST boys are chosen for war. Look at this splendid young creature who’s part of yourself. You brought him into the world. You cared for him. That boy relies on you. You taught him to do that, didn’t you? Now I ask you: Are you going to run out on him? Are you going to let someone beat a drum or blow a bugle and make him chase after it and be killed or crippled in a foreign land? Are the Mothers of America ashamed to make this fight to stay out of this European War on the ground of their love for their sons–for what better ground could there be?”
from “Now, you Mothers;” Maj. General Smedley Butler at the advent of WWII.
Today, let’s say, “yes,” to peace and a big, “hell, no” to war–for the love of our sons and daughters, but also for the love of all the sons and daughters of this world.