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Ain't Going to Study War no More

Author 4629
Message Margaret Bassett
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Even before I was born, I was impacted by US overseas military misadventures. Essentially I was the product of World War I, although it ended over three years before I was born. My parents, migrating from Kansas to Wyoming, were German in antecedent. They resented the hard times--and a flu pandemic--and took it upon themselves to take advantage of the government's offer to be pioneers. Dad, who was older than Mother, homesteaded in 1918. As a little kid at the dinner table I learned how they were harassed for being German-American. In agricultural circles the so-called Great Depression started in 1924. By the time Wall Street fell it was easy for them to describe what a panic was.

Before FDR was elected, I heard in neighborly conversation, "Do you think he will get us in Europe's war?" The answer took until December 1941 to arrive. I was a sophomore in college. Because I took graduate work and worked half time as Foreign Student Adviser at the University, I stayed at Iowa until the end of WWII. When that August arrived I was simply waiting for my ticket to take effect to visit family and then go to my first real job in DC, where I would teach English and do orientation work for professional foreign nationals.

It being August the only students on site were Latin Americans who, like me, were killing time for a new chapter. All of a sudden one sunny afternoon the whistle on the Engineering Building let go with a blast unlike anything it normally did to announce our eight o'clocks. Los estudiantes came running to me, saying that the secret place in their building was where engineers had been working on a new calculator to devise bombs. In one sentence they introduced me to the twin drivers of technology--cybernetics and nuclear energy.

I would not be swayed by the enormity of the times. I had a full time job, and boarded a train from Gillette, Wyoming which was headed for Washington, DC. There I found government employees equally interested in getting reassigned to a safe position and in having time off for parades of returning generals. By the time I realized that the House American Activities Committee had more press coverage than programs to promote civilian reorientation, the nation's capital seemed like a study in broken civility. So I fled to New York City where I was lucky enough to work with the American-Scandinavian Foundation. That time, I lucked out. When shipping became available I sailed for Copenhagen to see how housing, healthcare, and government worked. This pivotal year of 1950 gave me perspective which I would sorely need by the time I returned to the ruckus of whether a general (MacArthur) could tell a civilian commander-in-chief (President Truman) what to do. To this day I never really understood why Korea was in American sights for well over a half century. The Danes complied to UN requests for reinforcements by sending their now-famous hospital ship called HOPE.

So this brings us up to Cold War times--following the money and riding herd on the snoop trade--until once again Lucifer is turned loose big time. I guess it's for that reason I'm not going to worry about whether Petraeus led George W. Bush around or whether McChrystal has Barack Obama in his sights. I don't care about Limbaugh's battle plans. Sure, I'll be willing to tell young people how I was positioned on the side of peace even during the divisive times of Viet Nam. Although I learned how to steer toward peace, I must admit I was already grounded in values. I still hear my dad tell us, "Do not point a gun at anyone, not even your finger." Despite what he told us, I don't think he lacked resolve. Once when the dog went mad and was running around wildly, Dad took his rifle and laid him down--he couldn't eat supper as I remember.

"Culture." What's that? Monkey see, monkey do is hardly a tenet for achievement. There's a lot to learn once we stop haranguing against militarism and start studying Peace. Give peace a chance.


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Margaret Bassett passed away August 21, 2011. She was a treasured member of the editorial team for four years.

Margaret Bassett--OEN editor--is an 89-year old, currently living in senior housing, with a lifelong interest in political philosophy. Bachelors from State University of Iowa (1944) and Masters from Roosevelt University (1975) help to unravel important requirements for modern communication. Early introduction to computer science (1966) trumps them. It's payback time. She's been "entitled" so long she hopes to find some good coming off the keyboard into the lives of those who come after her.
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