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Have You Forgotten?

by Open-Publishing - Friday 20 January 2006

Wars and conflicts USA Monica Benderman

by Monica Benderman

Have you forgotten? We are people.

Have you forgotten? There are feelings inside.

Have you forgotten?

We are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for the right to live in peace, as we choose. We are fighting to live by what we believe, in the hope that others will be allowed the same opportunity, even as they choose to live differently than what we have chosen.

Have you forgotten the purpose - while you fight so hard for the cause?

We gave more than you know to war. We gave time, we gave life, we gave freedom - all because we believed our country would respect the sacrifice and appreciate the gift.

Have you forgotten?

Those of us who have given - know the value of what we gave. But do those who took the gift understand its significance? Do you know we didn’t fight for you? We fought for the right to walk away, to know that we had done our part that we gave all we had for the “common good.” We believed that every person would fight equally hard for the lives they had been given, and learned the hard way what it means to be taken advantage of by so many who seem to believe they do not have to stand for themselves.

In this country of credit, of rewards before the work, of people believing they are owed something for nothing - we gave. We put our lives on hold to fulfill what we believed was our duty. We did it so that when we were done, we could walk away in peace, knowing that we deserved the right to live as we choose - the right we fought for.

We have earned our freedom. We have done our part.

But you have forgotten - or is it that you never really knew?

We are people. We breathe, we care - we laugh and we cry. We have children, parents, and grandparents. We have private lives and responsibilities that belong to us - and should be no one else’s concern. We have dreams together that will only work if we are allowed to see them through together, without interference from those who claim to know us but have never gotten past what we have allowed them to see.

We are not a cause - we are not THE cause - we do not work for the cause.

There should be no cause. There should only be life - pure and simple. Life - private and free - with no one trying to control what is not theirs to control.

We are fighting for our lives, and the right to walk our own way, knowing what lies on either side - blending the edges of each to mark the center of the path we follow.

We respect those who choose as we do. Not necessarily those who make the same choices, but those who dare to walk their own way as well, choosing for themselves, blending the edges of their choices in a way that defines themselves as individuals in a world that doesn’t seem to understand individuality.

Many have forgotten as they work for a cause; as they cling to the edge of their side of life, so fearful of losing control of what they believe that they do anything they must to keep the voices of the other side from being heard.

No side is winning. People are losing.

Stop and look at what is happening - before we have lost completely.

The edges must blend - we cannot have one without the other - day and night, black and white, activists and pacifists, Muslim and Christian, Muslim and Jew.

When you stare across the road as you are holding your signs of protest, and there are those on the other side staring back with signs of their own, what do you see?

When you read the story of a veteran of war who has faced himself and made the choice to walk away from the violence he came to understand war to be, why do you argue so hard against his choice? Why are you so determined to keep him from making a choice that is his to make? You are free to live as you choose. Why are you so afraid to let this man do the same?

When you see a family praying in a way that you do not pray, why do you question their faith against your own? If your faith were truly strong you would understand theirs. Is it that you fear yourself and therefore cannot allow others the freedom to not be afraid?

When you see a relationship so different from your own, why do you turn away in disgust? Is it because even in its difference, the relationship has connections you cannot feel in yours? Does it frighten you to think that their truth is showing you what you are missing?

When you hear of another country where people live differently than you, what makes you so afraid that you create stories of fear and doubt - that you see them as less fortunate for not being as you are? Is it because they seem at peace while you run from the turmoil? Do you know? Or do you fear without seeing?

NO side is winning. People are losing.

Daily we hear of new rights being challenged, new rights being demanded. Can you see? These are not rights for the living, for freedom, for people? They are rights that justify fear, for inhibiting freedom, for taking way individuality. They are rights determined by someone’s “cause” not by someone’s life.

The fear of the individuality of another has caused us to be so insecure that every time our way of life is challenged we must create a law to protect our right to live in fear. The rights of “causes” are now protected, as people are lost in the cause.

America was once about freedom. The freedom to choose to live as an individual, according to what worked for you, as long as it did not injure another according to moral and ethical principles.

Stop and ask yourself - do another’s differences hurt you, or do they simply cause you to be afraid? Ask honestly, why it is you are afraid? Could it be you fear the cause?

Could it be you have forgotten who you are?

Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, wrongfully imprisoned for being a Conscientious Objector to war. Kevin is currently serving a 15 month sentence at the Ft. Lewis RCF in Washington. Please visit www.BendermanTimeline.com and www.BendermanDefense.org for more information.

Monica and Kevin may be reached at mdawnb@coastalnow.net