The Capital Times :: EDITORIAL
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Rev. Nicholas G.L. Utphall, St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, Monona [Wisconsin]
On Saturday in Madison, as in many other places, there was a rally against the war in Iraq.
It seemed like a good turnout, until one considers just how widely unpopular this war is. Last April 68 percent of us voted our discontent with the war in the referendum to bring the troops home. Surely now, 10 months later, we are even more eager for peace. But we're not doing much about it.
I myself almost stayed home. But my convictions convinced me to go to the rally.
I was thinking of phrases like "Blessed are the peacemakers" and "Love your enemies," little statements of my belief that war is wrong. I was also thinking of how we increasingly discover that this particular war is misleading and mishandled and misappropriated. These convictions got me to the rally.
But when I joined the group, it weighed on me in a different way. The war is not just against my beliefs and judgments. It became clear to me the burden we bear in this war.
Part of the rally was lifting up the soldiers from Wisconsin who have been killed. As each name was read, the group replied, "We remember."
By chance I had in my hand the name of Staff Sgt. Chad Simon. And I do remember Chad. I never knew him, but his grandmother is a member of my congregation. I had prayed with her in the hospital when she was more concerned for her grandson's safety in Iraq than for her own health. I'd prayed more after he was injured, as his family looked for signs of improvement. I prayed with more than 500 others at his funeral service. I still pray for his grandmother. I remember Chad Simon.
That sign with his name on it is one of the heaviest things I've ever carried. It is the burden of this war.
We cannot expect the president to carry that burden. Indeed, he has shown little sign that it even occurs to him.
We cannot expect legislators to carry the burden, though there are some signs in this new Congress that they may be opening their eyes.
This is our burden. We carry Chad and the 67 others from Wisconsin. We carry those who are injured. We carry those who suffer because of us. We carry those around us who need the government to support and not just defend them. We carry the burden of this implicit guilt as long as we do not stop this war.
Maybe this is too much burden to carry. But that is what we need to say, "No more."