“Folks have called Carol Raivert Trainer, member of Veterans for Peace, unpatriotic for her anti-war stance. Some parents move their children away from her organization table at community events, worried that her progressive stance can be caught like some airborne virus without a cure. ‘Get a job!, a handful of dissenters say to the retiree who has always had one. ‘Dirty hippie,’ others mutter in attempts to justify their disdain.” COURIER –JOURNAL April 24, 2016
A snapshot of this encounter can be found in cities around the country. If only those hurling insults at protesting veterans, who know the real cost of war, could spend time listening to one another, progress could be made in the never ending journey to peace. These veterans put their lives at risk, come home and continue to contribute their talent to a country that only hears a filtered version of the cost of war. Their message: war kills many innocent civilians, impacts the lives of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress long after a war is over, and wastes billions of much needed tax dollars that could be used for human services. These anti-war veterans also note that, as we celebrate Earth Day, we need to discuss the long lasting environmental destruction caused by militarism.
Unfortunately, the media reports what the Defense Department wants reported—the number of terrorists killed, land recovered from ISIS, progress through a very narrow lens. No mention of torture used by U.S. interrogators, infrastructures destroyed or number of civilians killed. If real dialogue could happen, peace could be advanced. The Iran nuclear talks and the movement to restore relations with Cuba model what is possible.
As Louisville prepares for the national conference of the National Rifle Association I have worked closely with Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America to plan a pro peace event, not an anti-NRA rally. In a recent rally we were followed by two men carrying assault weapons. They walked on the opposite sidewalk making certain they were seen. At a recent planning meeting we have been stalked by NRA members. How do we achieve dialogue and understanding in the midst of deep insecurity? Poll after poll shows that the majority of citizens want responsible gun regulation that respects the Second Amendment. It would be wonderful to have an opportunity for dialogue at the NRA convention to seek common ground. We may have more in common than we believe.