by Linda Milazzo
I don't believe in god. I never have. I don't believe in religions. I study them, but I don't practice them. I try to understand them to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of others, and to attempt to appreciate the motivations behind religious thought and deed. But they are irrelevant to living my life.
Long ago as a freshman at CUNY's Queens College I was introduced to Taoism. Taoism began in ancient China as a religion, then morphed into a dogma free/deity free philosophy. Since my late teens I've tried hard to apply MY understanding of my Tao to my life. I have the freedom to choose my own path and not judge the paths of others. But since I have freedom of opinion, I fall prey to judge. I try not to. But I do.
Through the Tao, I'm both a peacemaker and a warrior since Taoism couples with the art of self-defense. I understand my right to protect myself when needed, and to protect the defenseless when they need me. Since I'm by nature protective, it suits my sensibilities to aid the weak, where I fancy myself absurdly as inordinately strong.
Being a perplexed, tireless, and to reiterate, godless observer of our human condition, I've long believed my species, the human species, has gone terribly awry. Unending war, genocides, needless starvation and disease, rapes of women and children, human slavery, abuse of animals, unfettered greed, and seemingly endless but preventable atrocities painfully validate my supposition. Some believers in a god may say that this is god's plan. But since I'm godless, I see it more as misguided human folly (there I go judging again) predicated on discriminatory racial and/or theological prejudices presuming that one's race is superior to another, one's god is superior to another, one's religion is superior to another, and one's justice is more just than another. Regrettably, rather than using our aggregate knowledge acquired through the millennia to improve our human-kind, replenish our planet, enhance our health, and expand our love, those believers to whom we've granted governance have moved us steadily toward our decline. Yet again, there are those who may call this god's plan.
This leads me to my most current perplexing and all encompassing grief as I watch the overwhelming military destruction of Palestine and the killing of a hundred times more Palestinians than Israelis. First off, I don't care at all about derivations like Christians, Muslims and Jews. I don't care at all about dedicated boundaries. I don't care at all about the Bible, the Koran and the Torah. I ONLY care about the children and the innocent lives tossed to the rubble because our species has failed to rise to its potential. All that is different today from a thousand years ago is that bows have morphed to rockets and arrows have morphed to bombs. Warmongers may have fashioned more efficient ways to kill, but they have maintained their inefficient hearts and minds. All war is failure. And as difficult as this will be for architects of war to accept, war is not an art. Art builds and invigorates. War destroys and incinerates. By any measure of logic, the two are incompatible.
Technology aside, those who mastermind today's ethno-religious wars are as primitively demonic as they were a millennium before - even as recently as 60 and 70 years before - when exterminations were the scourge of a continent and the impetus that sent the whole world to war. Shamefully the words "we shall not forget" have tarnished in value as the golden rule has lost its glow.
The fact is, while Mr. Bush, Mr. Olmert, Ms. Livni, Mr. Netanyahu, Ms. Rice, Mr. Cheney, Mr. al-Masri and the rest orchestrate their brutal murders, we will never advance as a species until we accept that ALL WARS ARE FAILURES. When you orchestrate a war that incinerates a child, the death of that child, the blood of that child, the loss of that child, will tarnish you forever. All situations are failures when innocents are harmed. If one child injures another in a sandbox, their play date was a failure. If a police car kills innocents during a pursuit, the pursuit was a failure. If a father burns his house down while attempting to warm it, the attempt was a failure. If children die in war, the war was a failure. Of this, I have not doubt.
On July 31, 2006, I wrote an article  with a similar theme during Israel's bombardment of Lebanon. In that article I said:
I do not kill children. I do not condone ANY circumstance that ends the life of a child or brings harm to innocents downed in the cross hairs of adult perversion. There is NO circumstance whatsoever that legitimizes the murder of children. The term "collateral damage" ascribed to dead children or to the shredded bodies of living children is hideous.
The rite of passage from childhood to adulthood relinquishes the right to such irresponsibility. The whole process of maturation teaches the protection of children at all costs. Animals, both wild and domestic, abide by these instincts unconditionally. It is the aberrant adult dog who kills a puppy. And on the rare occasion such anomaly occurs, it confounds attendant humans due to the sheer unnaturalness of the act. Our expectation for the compassion of canines transcends like expectations we hold for ourselves.
In the current debacle between Israel and Hezbollah, with the mounting deaths of Lebanese children, it is unconscionable for Israel to justify murdering these children by labeling them embeds of Hezbollah. One should convulse in shame at the insidiousness of such a declaration. To publicly declare the right to kill a child using proximity as exoneration of guilt, forfeits any claim to humanity. To willingly betray the life of a child, betrays every principal learned during the "normal" ascendancy from child to adult.
To these self-righteous ideologues I say: MAY YOU ENVISION FOR YOUR LIFETIMES THE FACES OF EVERY INFANT AND CHILD YOU HAVE SLAIN FOR YOUR CAUSE! What a pernicious badge of inhumanity you bear.
Applying this same text to the Israel/Palestine war today, we need only to exchange Hamas for Hezbollah and Palestinian for Lebanese. The other egregious difference is that more innocent children are now dead.
President-Elect Obama, even before you assume your hallowed office on January 20, 2009, you can be the hero we've been hoping for. You can convert the current office of warmaker-in-chief to that of peacemaker-in-chief. You can do it NOW by speaking out against this war. It's YOUR voice the world wants to hear. George W. Bush is a war criminal, cloaked in the blood of dead children.
Sadly, your chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is also cloaked in the blood of dead children. Your former Presidential opponent John McCain is cloaked in the blood of dead children. The Israel lobbying group AIPAC is cloaked in that blood, as is Hamas. Most of the U.S. Congress is cloaked in that blood, as is most of the U.S. Senate. The corporate media is cloaked in that blood as well. It's a despicable club to belong to. It's an alliance of murder. It's time to UN-JOIN.
Are YOU, President-elect Obama, in whom so many have placed so much hope, ready to be cloaked in the blood of dead children in Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Congo, Somalia and more?
If as I hope, President-Elect Obama, you are NOT prepared to bear the responsibility for the deaths, injuries and orphanhood of children as innocent and lovely as your own, then STAND UP NOW! SPEAK OUT NOW! SHOUT OUT NOW and STOP THIS WAR NOW!!
President-Elect Obama, in the United States of America there are four living presidents who have come before you. Only President Carter has been heroic enough to speak out on behalf of Palestinians. Are you, President-Elect Obama, ready to be the hero Americans have been waiting for? You're the son of a humanitarian. You're the son of a woman who dedicated her life to bettering our world. Our world isn't made better through war and killing children. Our world is made better through peace. The longer you remain silent, the more children will die. Please show us, President-elect Obama, that YOU WILL NOT BE SILENT! All war is failure. You don't have to fail.