War Is Not The Answer

June 8, 2013

There is a woman in my community who is a member of the local Quaker Meeting. She is at least in her 70’s and maybe in her 80’s. Her body is slowly becoming shorter, and there is a slight hunch in her back. She walks with purpose, but a little slower than she used to. Her hair is all gray and it looks like she may snip at it herself.

At Meeting she is usually fairly quiet, sometimes her head is tucked down and I find myself wondering if she is asleep. She is very social before and after. Her eyes light up when she greets people and she is always happy, smiling and seemingly internally at peace with herself and her God.

Every Thursday afternoon she stands alone, rain or shine, sleet or snow, at one of our town’s busiest intersections holding the blue and white sign with the dove that says “WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER”.

War not answer

What is the answer? What’s the question?

On the way home from work yesterday I listened to an interview that had been originally aired a year ago.


Brian Castner spoke eloquently and thoughtfully. He has lost parts of his memory due to traumatic brain injury from serving in the war. He had an unimaginable job. He described something he saw often: “the pink mist of blood that hovered over everything”.  It made me cry. It made me angry. Angry because those of us who sit here in our homes have no idea what war means. We have no way of understanding the way war changes people. Hurts people. Even Brian didn’t understand for a long time.  Having a name for his “illness” helps he says. But, not really.

War IS NOT the answer. But, I wonder,  are we asking the right question?