There is not one person in my life...no one that I know personally, that I truly dislike. The truth is, I pretty much like everyone I know.
But I do know people who are somehow afraid of learning that some of the good feelings they've had and have lived by might have been misplaced; that a great deal of what they've believed in for many years might have been lies or deceitful half-truths.
Some people are afraid to face possible tears of regret, to face a possible deep sorrow for what their country cruelly has done to other people, to us, and to our own children and other relatives.
Some people are afraid to face having to go to work knowing that the company they work for earns its money by deceiving or hurting others; that the education they got was replete with half-truths and important missing facts, the underlying truth of which, if it had been told to them earlier, might well have caused them mental anguish, pain, distrust, anger and sorrow. So we were not told the truth, became afraid of the truth, and, finally, were never told the truth.
And now we remain uninformed and incomplete, with many empty spaces in our very souls. Those empty spaces cheat us out of what otherwise might give us wisdom and centeredness. To know the truth, you have to seek it out. That takes courage--lots of faith and lots of courage.
We all want to protect our children from unpleasantness, and in some sense a part of us has left all of us, in a way, still children. We are innocent and uninformed, and, at the same time--believing what we were once taught and being still afraid of unpleasantness--we presume that purposely avoiding unpleasantness somehow makes us more innocent.
But that fear of the truth results--when combined with the same fear in the rest of us--in the death, destruction, impoverishment, and great suffering of peoples in other parts of the world who never deserved, and don't now deserve, to be treated that way. Still, they continue to be treated that way, because there's not yet enough of us to stand up and stop it.
We need to ask for forgiveness for the wrongs that we and our country as a whole have inflicted on others. We are incomplete in ourselves to the extent that we never do want to ask for that forgiveness. But how can we honestly ask for forgiveness, before we realize and understand what part we played in causing others so much pain and suffering.
By the end of the Vietnam war, more than 58,000 of our soldiers had died there. But then, later, we learned that...
"By some estimates, the number of Vietnam vets who have committed suicide has exceeded the 58,000-plus who died in combat." 2
What those soldiers saw and did in that strange land could not be reconciled with the reality of how we think and how we live here--all of us being so unaware of what we allowed our leaders to do in our name that defiled our national soul. Three to four million Vietnamese and others died in that war...and, like our own American vets, for no good reason whatsoever. The devastation we caused cannot be described here.
One mother whose son came back from the Vietnam War said, "I gave them a good boy and they sent me back a murderer." Not every soldier experiences the same war. Some witnessed great bravery and heroism amongst their fellow soldiers, and amongst the so-called enemy as well. Many faced great hardship in these far-off places. Others sat at desks, or serviced planes or piloted boats, and had no more understanding than those of us back home of what our military and civilian leaders were up to--of what the total picture was. Most followed orders without thinking about what the consequences of their actions might be, for they were trained not to think about such things. Most, in fact, weren't qualified to think about such things. But I am not talking just about the Vietnam War. That war is just one example out of many...too many.
One day, every American will know the truth about the good things and the awful things our country has done. And, as for the awful things we are still doing, one day most of us will leave our homes and stand out in the street to let every other American know that we too know what our neighbors know. When that happens, orders might well be given to officers or soldiers by a frightened government to aim their guns and shoot at us for daring to stand out in the street like that...we thousands, or tens of thousands, or millions of people. But those receiving the orders will not fire their weapons; they will lay them down because they too will by then know what their families know, that we have all been betrayed, but that we will not be betrayed, nor will we betray anyone else, any longer.
We don't have to fight anyone. We only have to know in our hearts what the truth is, who we are, where we come from, and what we stand for.
Let me recommend to you the following two books. Both must be read. Though the titles sound the same, they deal with different but important facts and realities:
1: A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
2: The Untold History of the United States, by Oliver Stone
and Peter Kuznick