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The Peace Bonus: Nothing to Kill or Die For

By       Message Gene Marx     Permalink
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You either get tired of fighting for peace, or you die.

                                                                  John Lennon

Has it really been 30 years? I remember the date well enough, but the three decades kind of caught me more than a little off guard.

Those of us old enough to remember how we were crushed by the shooting death of John Lennon outside of his Manhattan apartment on the evening of December 8, 1980, have likely been distracted on this somber anniversary by what might have been. At the time I thought, "Well, it took them 20 years but they finally killed them all."

Who were they exactly, government conspirators? Probably not, but certainly a fair share of bigots, crackpots, and assassins. But them, they were the heroes I grew to revere as I literally survived what I had thought, until more recently, were the most tumultuous decades ever thrust upon a generation -   JFK, MLK, RFK, and finally John Lennon, and I was brash enough to claim them all. But especially John. 

John Lennon was special. It took me a while to let him off the hook him for abdicating Beatledom for Yoko, but I came around. Ultimately, he never hesitated to stand and be counted when it came to the peace movement --" unless he and Yoko Ono were in the middle of a bed-in, when the prone position was more appropriate, holding press conferences in their honeymoon suite in 1969 to promote world peace.


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The newspapers said
say what're you doing in bed

I said we're only trying to get us some peace.


Not exactly a quick study, and in spite of the message of The Ballad of John and Yoko, while they were handing out fifty acorns tied in a sack I was in training to counter the domino effect in Southeast Asia. And by the time Imagine was released in 1971, I was waging war in a lost cause, losing friends and wondering why my country hadn't given peace a chance.

But I got to come home, and most of my heroes and anti-heroes were gone, except for John. As most of what was left of the counterculture willingly succumbed to family and career, fearing only the aftermath of a newly elected Ronald Reagan in December 1980, Power to the People, Working Class Hero, and Whatever Gets You Thru the Night continued to serve as anthems.

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As it turns out, we should have been paying more attention to the adage from Lennon's Happy Xmas, "War is over, if you want it, war is over, now!"   Thirty years later and most Americans cannot list the conflicts waged in their name for Empire, much less find the theatres of operation on a map.

Questioning authority is a start, in fact it's patriotic. But resisting is the key.

Recently an octogenarian and life-long Veterans for Peace anti-war activist was asked by a visiting academic at a local peace coalition gathering just how he's been able to keep up the struggle, seemingly without a victory all these years. His reply came without a hint of hesitation, "It's not about the struggle, it's the resistance."

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The author of this piece is Vietnam Veteran and former Naval Aviator Gene Marx. He currently serves as a member of the Veterans For Peace Membership Committee and was the past Secretary of the VFP National Board of Directors. He lives in (more...)

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