Thursday, February 11, 2010

If you love them, don't send them to war

This Saturday, Feb. 13, some of us Austin CodePinkers plan to be out on South Congress Avenue to pass out fliers and stickers to folks out shopping for their sweethearts. Our message is serious, although tempered with some humor. The pink stickers read, "Make Out, Not War." The fliers, which contain the graphic above, list a number of ways that deployments are hazardous to the health of military couples and families.

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days of the year. But, it's a day with a lot of pressure and strain for many couples and families who are not only separated because of war, but face increased emotional and financial hardship because of combat-related PTSD. Wars come home in many ways.

The mainstream press in the US has been placing greater emphasis lately on the need for better mental health care for veterans and military family members. This coverage has been helpful, I think, and has led to an increase in resources for military families. But, as long as soldiers continue to face long, multiple deployments, the problems continue. The only real cure for combat-related PTSD is to stop sending soldiers into combat in the first place.

The original "War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things" design that I've riffed on above was conceived in the 1960's and promoted by the group, Another Mother for Peace. I have a pendant with the graphic on the front, and on the back is engraved, "Another Mother for Peace, Beverly Hills, CA, 1968." The pendant was given to me about 15 years ago by my mother who was, in the 1960's, and is, at age 84, still active in peace and justice efforts in my Wisconsin hometown. I remember my mother wearing the pendant when I was young, and I pondered the message. Why would adults wage war if it was so unhealthy that it actually killed children? Wouldn't they decide, for that reason alone, that war was completely unacceptable?

When my mother passed the pendant along to me, I began wearing it almost every day. It has drawn a lot of comments. Most people my age remember the slogan and design. "Oh, I used to have a poster of that." Or a pin, or a patch on their jeans. The design has made a reappearance in recent years, mostly because the message is still true. In fact, that is the most frequent comment I get, even from people who approve of some wars: "It's true." When will the consequences of war be considered so costly for children and other living things that every alternative will be pursued by adults in the world? I would have thought we'd have reached that point long before now.

-- Design above by Makingpeace

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