February 19th, 2012

Desiderata by max ehrmann,

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

I've posted this before, i'm posting it again
i need its simple, positive, fatherly advice.

Desiderata poem, max ehrmann, go placidly amid the noise and haste, you are a child of the universe

Killing for God's Sake --Civilian Casualties as a Result of the American Civil War

Catholic, Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist armies have codes of conduct during wartime (Just War theories) which are intended to minimize destruction and especially the deaths of non-combatants.  Also for most of the peoples of the world warfare had a ritual aspect to it and it was more important to fight a war correctly than to win it.  Again the need to win often pushed aside the need for proper conduct, but the model of a "well fought" war was always there.

We have known for a long time that Americans have not conducted war as ritual and their concept of justice was always pretty ethnocentric.  At first i thought that it was because we started out fighting the indigenous inhabitants of great turtle island that we showed no respect for the enemy, giving no quarter and massacring women and children, often to the point of extinguishing entire villages or peoples.  But this has happened in every war we have fought, non-combatants have been "unremarkable" collateral damage or deliberate targets.   The 600,000 or (many) more "excess" Iraqi deaths resulting so far from Operation Iraqi Freedom include over 200,000 civilians killed at checkpoints, in house-to-house searches, or during random firing of American weapons.

I thought i would take a look at civilian casualties of the American Civil War to see if, given that we were countrymen, our contempt for civilian populations might have been minimized.  After all, didn't civilians drive their carriages out to the scenes of battle and watch the combat as though they were at a sporting event.  Wasn't this "the last war fought by gentlemen."  And civilian casualties were never mentioned either in statistical analyses or in high school history books.  Surely, except for slaves and Indians, the civilian casualties were minimal.  First of all i have not been able to find any good statistics about civilian casualties.  This could mean that civilian casualties were minimal.  But no one is saying that -- instead words like "uncounted" and "unknown" are used.
The link below suggests that there might have been over 100,000 civilian casualties, mostly women and children.
It is interesting that it is the North (The United States of America) that is given credit for scorched earth policies and other measures specifically directed at "weakening the Southern infrastructure."

Blog 4 History » Blog Archive » Civilian Casualties as a Direct Result of the Civil War

A book by John Tirman, The Death of Others: The Fate of Civilians in Americas Wars was reviewed in the Jan-Feb issue of the Catholic Worker,  This review by Bill Griffin points to a book that i should read.  Tirman holds the "myth of the frontier" which was essentially a Protestant religious product formed in the sermons of seventeenth century  New England to be the set of cultural blinders which have primary responsibility for making us so contemptuous of human life whenever we are  (as the Blues Brothers put it) "on a mission from God."

In an age of weapons of mass destruction, the rest of the world may be catching up to us in terms of contempt for human life.