“This is not who we are”

Hillary Clinton responds to the appalling massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including 9 children, with these words: “This is not who we are.” Unfortunately, Madam Secretary, this is who we are. Despite the fact that this veteran sergeant was acting outside the chain of command, he is a trained killer by profession, as are his comrades, as is the entire war machine. We raise our children on war simulation games, we desensitize ourselves with death and destruction as entertainment, gun-related violence plagues our schools, every day there is horrific violence committed by one of our citizens on another. And this is not who we are?

We went to Afghanistan to respond to the killings of 9/11 and seek out its mastermind, and nearly as many Coalition lives have been lost in Operation Enduring Freedom as were lost in the Twin Towers. We do not know the death toll among Afghan soldiers and civilians. The United Nations reported civilian deaths had reached 3,021 in the year 2011 alone, largely at the hands of the Taliban. Yet we are a party to that violence, even when we are not the actual perpetrators. We are provoking it, justifiably or not.

“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. Where does it stop?

We hope to create peace among our Muslim brothers by murdering their families. They will not stand silent. They must and will avenge these and other deaths, just as we felt justified plunging into their country for vengeance. I fear for my child and our future with this kind of calling card. I fear for the sanity of our military personnel, war-scarred and incapable of returning to the lives they once knew, should they be so lucky.

I weep for the children and families in Afghanistan. But, despite my empathy and avowed innocence, I will not be spared when vengeance turns on us. For this is who we are, and we are all responsible for it. And we must stop it now.

(photo: pits47 2006)


4 thoughts on ““This is not who we are”

  1. 50 years ago I read a news story about a little 5 year old boy. He went with his Mother to the liquor store and while she was busy, he wandered behind the counter. There he spied a gun under the counter. He picked it up and pointed it at the clerk and pulled the trigger, saying “Bang, bang, you’re dead”. And he killed the clerk. It was brought home to me so vividly that we teach our children that guns are toys. They grow up pretend killing. I never let toy guns into my house and my 4 children were taught that guns are not toys and are not playthings. I was an oddity in the day and I’m sure my children played with guns at other houses, but they knew how I felt about guns. Killing any creature is not a game and not a sport. And war is a horror to be avoided.

    • I always chose to be an Indian so I wouldn’t have to use a gun 😉 You made an excellent parenting choice, and we are passing that on to our children. If only others would recognize this connection … thanks for sharing.

  2. I totally agree with your sentiments. As the mom of a small boy, I find myself constantly battling the “norm” of guns and violence in our society. Hugh and his friends are fascinated with super heroes, police, military forces, etc. It is odd because the violence is accepted generally by most of his peer’s parents and our society at large, yet people are offended by a mother nursing her baby in public (fortunately, less so for those of us in Portland). Boggles my mind. Thank you for the thoughtful post!

  3. you’re right that we will not be spared the vengeance of the world. Americans sit silent and seem hardly bothered by a growing and insatiable military empire that has zero regard for human life, a financial sector that’s destroying the global economy and a consumer society that’s only concern about global warming seems to be that there is no snow on the slopes. The hatred out there directed at us is going to ‘come home to roost’ and it scares me. I sometimes think that we ought to have a military draft. Because that might be the only thing that would cause my comatose countrymen to wake up and see what is happening. It’s really criminal that Americans have been allowed to go about business as usual while we’ve making war against other countries for 10 years – a longer period of wartime than any before in our country’s history. If people had to actually sacrifice their own life and the lives of their children on the military alter, they might not feel as pumped up about the merits of our numerous wars. But as I have a boy who will be 18 in 12 years, I may also just need to plan my exit strategy from this country.


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