“An endless war
An endless night
An endless tunnel
with no light…”
That passage is from a poem by teenage writer Jessica N. titled “Endless War”. The full work appears at teenink.com. In reading Jessica’s thoughts, I was reminded of conversations here and elsewhere over the past several days about the War on Terror.
The site doesn’t provide Jessica’s last name. Nor do I know how she learned about war as a teenager in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What I know is that young Jessica has a soul and a spirit and a heart. What I don’t know is whether that soul and spirit and heart can remain intact in a world where the endless war about which she writes may prove all too real in her life.
There is another poem, from the Bible and later turned to song:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
It’s that last bit, “a time of peace”, that worries me. Something is filtering through our discussion politic these recent days that has gone unnoticed, at least in the major outlets. If you listen beneath the words to the talk of torture and drones and the War on Terror, there is an undercurrent, an unidentified unwinding of our collective vision. Presumed from nearly every voice is the assumption of endless war.
Whether morning shows or early evening shows or blogs or editorials, there is no talk, no advocate, of “a time of peace”. Since biblical times, if one is to believe Ecclesiastes, there have been wars, but there have also been periods of peace. War conceptually was finite. It began. It ended. And between wars was “a time of peace. “
To have “a time of peace” is precious. Even if impermanent, it allows us rest from the business of generating death. It allows a generation, or part of a generation, to grow and flourish and learn and reproduce without the mangled bodies and minds of war. It allows a refreshing of the national psyche.
How can it be that to speak of seeking peace has become an outlier message, a refrain met with derision, “Didn’t you know that war today is endless?” We all must be Dick Cheney now, it seems. By election we removed the neocons from power, but their mindset has infected us like a pandemic. They did not win our votes. They stole our souls, and made prisoners of our minds.
I fear for you Jessica N. and all who will follow you. I fear that your soulful poem is more prescient than you know.