If you are even peripherally aware of global news, you will eventually be led to the conclusion that the men in charge (MIC) have royally screwed up our lives and habitat with wars.
Their wars have destroyed infrastructure and poisoned the biosphere.
Their recent and ongoing wars have displaced over 65,000,000 women, men, and children from their homes and produced devastating widespread trauma that many will be unable to resolve.
Their wars have shattered young men’s lives and devastated their families.
Their war profiteering has shamefully pumped up corporate bottom lines.
Witnessing anyone die of wounds has to convince you that war is a pointless pissing contest accomplished with lethal ‘man toys’.
Currently the planet is suffering from about forty weaponized conflicts of varying intensities and intents.
Terrorism, ethnic conflict, civil wars, and hybrid and special operations warfare accounted for the bulk of non-state, intrastate, and interstate violence.
Fourteen Conflicts from the 20th century persist in Colombia, India, Indonesia – Aceh, Indonesia – Irian Jaya, Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Korean DMZ, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Philippines, Somalia, and Uganda.
Eighteen new ones have erupted in the 21st Century
The loss from these conflicts since 2000 is at least one million humans. Sources of statistics often do not agree but, safe to say, wars have delivered a vast mess of dead people.
Oddly for a pacifist, I admire the warrior life and ethos. What’s not to like about daily training, rigorous discipline, and inclusion in a club of badass dudes? I can see the appeal for the young ones who don’t yet know who they and, if they survive a war, probably will have a much harder time figuring it out.
In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam war protests, Edwin Starr came out with the classic anthem:
“War, huh (good God, ya all)
What is it good for?
In the spirit of that song, I offer a sketch of a plan to sideline war: the Designated War Zone (DWZ). This idea harkens back centuries ago to a few wise Africans. It’s a progressive way of thinking that got lost in all the greed and expensive, terrifying weapons. Here’s how it works:
All disputes over land, resources, and governance structure will be settled in a remote place with sufficiently varied terrain to be of interest to soldiers from any region.
The Warrior Culture will not be eliminated. Equally sized squads of elite war fighters would be trained and deployed by each party in a dispute.
The fight would be governed by the Geneva Conventions. Failure to observe means the offender is officially the loser.
No nuclear devices, biochemical weapons, or drones.
Maximum time for fighting: Seven days. No resupply.
No women or children would be engaged in or affected by a Designated War Zone.
No media. UN Observers only.
The country that ‘hosts’ the fighting is compensated through a special fund from the UN (now that refugees will not be a factor). Every country kicks in.
Ordinance makes the DWZ off-limits until clean up and proper disposal of war junk, paid for by the combatant countries and accomplished within thirty days.
Terms of victory would be codified – and thus determine a full and indisputable resolution of the conflict.
One of the great benefits is that this plan would vastly reduce military spending and weapons trade.
Countries could pay instead for better education, the foundation of progress. Fewer dangerous toxins foul the environment. Many more unimagined bonuses.
Creating this possibility for our future requires a lot of wisdom and restraint. A collaboration of progressive minds.
Until consensus emerges on The Plan – and it could a few generations for the war mongers to die off – women will lead peace talks. Most women vehemently would prefer NOT to see their babies and children slaughtered, their homes and neighborhoods destroyed. The pain their war fighter children experience is beyond any notion of acceptable. This sensibility is the best place to start.
Rather than fancy five-star hotels, the venue for negotiations would be a bomb-out town or a hospital or a refugee camp where the suffering is most visible. Delegates get to eat war rations. A sumptuous feast celebrates the Peace.
Given our bloody history, fighting will always be a part of the human experience. But, for the future of a prosperous planet and sane humankind, war must be sidelined to the periphery of our lives. A naive dream? Perhaps. We’ve got to begin, and seriously, to champion a new vision.
Howl We Do It (see additional blog posts in Nov and December 2018)
For years, the women’s stories I’ve heard and read have made me want to howl. A young mother in Congo, the “rape capital of the world,” offers a detailed account of a horrendous gang rape in front of her husband, who is then murdered. The trauma ends her early-term pregnancy. Her legs were shot so many times that one must be amputated.
This woman, made a penniless beggar by the horrific assault, painfully tells her story with no likelihood of receiving emotional support. Does re-traumatizing the victim this way serve anyone? A note at the end of the article states that her “identity has been concealed for security reasons and because rape carries strong social stigma in the region.”1 As if there is a place in world where rape does not carry a stigma. In a year of assisting rape survivors in the US, I found not one of them wished to reveal her story publicly, some not even to their families.
In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie’s film, offers a harrowing story from the “rape camps” of Serb militia during the Bosnian war. An estimated 40,000-50,000 women were raped during those four years, finally motivating the international community to define systematic rape as a crime against humanity.
In Darfur, where I’ve had many conversations with women, sexual assault is still a common occurrence. The UN and NGOs guesstimate that tens of thousands of Darfuri women have suffered rape. There are no reliable stats. The attacks continue apace; the camp women have given up on UNAMID peacekeeper assistance. They have no legal recourse and usually receive no treatment for trauma suffered.
And, from around the world, statistics that vary widely from source to source:
- A woman born in South Africa stands a greater chance of being raped than of learning how to read.2
- A UK study concluded that between 75 and 95 percent of rape crimes are never reported to the police.3
- In the US, victims 12-years (!) and older survived a total of 125,910 rapes or sexual assaults. (2009 statistics, the most recent available.) At least 50% of victims never report to police. 4
My question: Why haven’t women taken to the streets, raging en mass to end the trauma meted out to them and their sisters around the world? How could we possibly be cowed into silence, into believing the shame is ours?
It makes me want to howl. In fact, I tried it one night. Alone on the rooftop, I ended up whimpering quietly like a wounded pup. To be honest, it scared me to summon that primal noise. But, when I got with a few other women, at night, at the beach, we could let go. Out there, maybe nobody heard us but we could hear ourselves growling, yipping, barking and howling our pain, our protest. It felt like releasing a grievance that, unspoken, would eventually main my soul.
I read up on howling, the signature communication of wolves. Wolf-lovers have learned:
- When a wolf begins howling, other members of the pack tend to join in, seeking fur-to-fur contact. Howling appears to be the glue that keeps the pack together.
- Wolves will howl to convey a location so they can reunite. When they are lonely or captive, the howl is a rising and falling sound with a long slide at the end.
- No two wolves will howl on the same note but there is harmony. Some believe the chorus makes the pack sound bigger and therefore more threatening to intruders.
- Wolves tend to be more active on bright-moon nights but evidently don’t “howl at the moon” as legend would have it.
Think of The Howl as pro-woman activism, as public theater, a compelling aural reminder that women will not suffer quietly the violence inflicted on them. Imagine the reaction of urban (or suburban or rural) neighbors to 30 seconds of women howling every time the full moon rises. Then, the Howl ripples through time zones, around the world. The first couple times, people are wondering and perhaps a little nervous. Then we state our message clearly through media outlets and blogs and social media and even on street corners. The Full Moon Sisters – a global movement – howling every full moon, at a certain time, around the planet until the violence against women stops.
Who’s down with trying that? Email me at Susanblt@gmail.com