Monday, October 19, 2009

The Legacy of War: Wisdom for My Loved Ones (Revisited)

About 2 1/2 years ago, I posted a story I called "The Legacy of War: Wisdom for My Loved Ones." Our then president (in lockstep with his vocal VP) and military leaders were calling for a "surge" strategy in Iraq. Today, our generals in Afghanistan, right-wing commentators, and conservative politicians are saber-rattling about the need for a new "surge" of troops, putting pressure on our new president to send 40,000 or more troops to war (which President Obama called "the right war" during his presidential campaign). At least this time around , our new VP is calling for different strategy.

The issue got my full attention after viewing a debate on PBS about the Afghan "surge" strategy between retired Army General Jack Keane and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, an international relations professor at Boston University who spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army (then recently reading an article titled "The Generals' Revolt: The Military Revolt Over Afghanistan" by Robert Dreyfuss in Rolling Stone).

So what does this have to do with life legacies (and my own life legacy in particular)? While the Afghan war likely will not have a direct effect on my two sons (in their 30's), my young grandchildren could eventually be impacted by the eight-year and "no end in sight" war in Afghanistan. That would make it all too personal whether or not I'm still alive when that war or some other new war ends.

Having lived through the Vietnam era as an Army Reservist (see my previous blog post on war), the Afghan war is certainly echoing (if not repeating) our experience in Vietnam. The word "quagmire" (the word most often used about the Vietnam war) has even reappeared in the news, spoken by no less than President Obama in a recent interview.

As I noted in "The Legacy of War," the most powerful words of wisdom I've ever heard about war were delivered by Chris Hedges, author of the 2002 book, "War Is A Force That Gives Life Meaning," in a speech he gave:

"War in the end is always about betrayal: betrayal of the young by the old, soldiers by politicians, and idealists by cynics."

I would add "betrayal of presidents by military leaders (and retired generals)" -- as it appeared to me during the Vietnam War and certainly does now.

I was born at the end of World War II in which my father served and was wounded in France. He survived but never spoke to me about his wartime experience. By my count, the U.S. has been at war in some country for more than half the years of my life. What does that say about America and the human psyche? I don't have an answer but it's clear to me that there's truth in the statement that "you don't make peace by making war."

What I do know for sure is that far too many young men and women will be killed and wounded in Afghanistan (as they were/are in Iraq) in a "surge" or any military strategy of escalation. And that will be a terrible waste of life to protect a country from being a "safe haven for terrorists." Plus, I wonder about the extraordinary level of arrogance it takes to expect our military to change a tribal culture, much less "win" any war against insurgencies and gangsters intent on terrorizing the "free world."

How do you view the legacy of war in your lifetime? What are your personal stories about war and its impact on you and your family members? Have you changed your views during your lifetime on the necessity (or lack of) for war ... in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and/or any terrorist organizations?

The Legacy of War: Wisdom for My Loved Ones (Revisited)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reflections of a Life Legacy Blogger

When I began writing this blog in early April of 2006, I wasn't sure where it would lead me. It was my first blog and I had just begun helping people create their own ethical wills. As I look back over the past 3 1/2 years, I've posted 142 times -- most of which were written in the first two years. Other work projects, including writing blogs for the Emerald Art Center, the Springfield Beacon, and Wellsprings Friends School, have reduced the time I've been able to devote to this blog.

It's a bit amazing to look at the data on who has read the life legacy blog since July 2006 when I started keeping track. As of today, there have been 4,499 visitors from 82 countries and all 50 states in the U.S. (a little less than half of the total visitors were from the U.S.). Just a little over 25% of visitors returned to the site. There have been 6007 visits and 11,315 page views. Visitors have looked at an average of 2.20 pages per visit and spent an average of 2.04 minutes on the site (the longest visit was 26.10 minutes).

The state of Oregon accounted for 1338 visitors who spent an average of 4.07 minutes on the site. They came from 36 cities throughout the state, most from the Eugene and Portland areas.

Among the 10 most popular posts are:

1. Writing A Personal Legacy Letter (accounted for 12% of total visits)
2. Examples of Ethical Wills
3. Life Lessons: The Power of Empathy
4. "Just a Mom, Writing About Life"
5. Pema Chodron's Commentary on the Four Reminders
6. Topic Outlines for An Ethical Will
7. Seven Questions to Explore in Your Ethical Will: "Who Am I?"
8. Spiritual Will & Ethical Will: Are They Different?
9. Life Lessons: A Quote to Remember
10.Writing a "Dying Letter": Elizabeth Edwards Story

Not long after starting the blog, I created a website describing my services for people interested in life legacies. For individuals who wanted to create their own ethical-spiritual will, I added a Wiki to my website with starter questions to consider.

Looking ahead, I intend to continue posting about personal life legacies, ethical-spiritual wills, and other related subjects including brief reviews of books I read during the year.

As always, your feedback and comments are welcomed.

Reflections of a Life Legacy BloggerSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend