It's difficult to pick one image that does justice to the past few days of driving/exploring. I have, for example, an amazing photograph of Valley Forge (Tuesday) that speaks eloquently to the spirit of grit and resolve that helped usher the dream of America into its tentative beginnings. I also considered sharing a poignant scene from Appomattox yesterday, as I looked down the road Confederate soldiers walked when they finally lay down their arms. Then there is this picture - left - of several national flags flying over the recently constructed D-Day memorial in Bedford, Virginia.
I picked the flags - from yesterday, early evening - not because of the massive monument (I found it a little odd, far removed from the cliffs of Normandy) but because the image speaks to the disturbing reality that this earth is an ongoing battlefield, full with conflict and grief. We are so constantly at odds with one-another, and when we don't get our own way we unfailingly resort to violence.
The flags flying at the D-Day monument represent the many nations who pulled together in order to defeat a common enemy; people who gave everything for the cause of freedom; people who willingly died so that others would be freed from the grip of tyranny...
I get that. I understand what was at stake. I don't know what else could have been done other than what the Allies worked so hard to accomplish during the course of WW2. But what I don't understand is how readily - knowing what we know about war - we continue to go in with guns blazing like it's still 1944. Don't we know by now that this isn't the movies? Don't we understand that we can't just twist an arm till they cry "uncle" and it's all over?
When I worked in ESE (Exceptional Student Education) I knew teachers who would deliberately provoke already unhinged students to act out, because then they could justify the use of their superior weight and technique and "authority" to physically restrain the child. They did this because they were either too lazy or too incompetent to use classroom management skills, or because they got some perverse satisfaction from fighting children.
Sometimes I think that we take a similar approach to international conflict. When are we going to learn that much of the world does not and never will respond according to the rules of engagement we espouse?
What's that definition of insanity? Oh yes, "Doing the same thing over and over, each time expecting a different result...."
I believe we have programed ourselves to rely too much on the flexing of muscles. Surely there is a better way.
On this vacation we have toured Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Appomattox, and then a huge tribute to the landings at Normandy.
Isn't it time we put our efforts to the building of peace rather than new monuments?