It’s nine o’clock in the morning and a faint light is cracking through my window shades in Helsinki.
My last week in Lapinjärvi turned out to be a short one. On Tuesday I was discharged on a sick leave because of a slight fever and constant coughing. Last evening the flu entered its most gruesome part when my throat swelled up and the throbbing pain kept me awake all night. I suppose I must resort to liquid lunch today.
I’m feeling slightly feverish and disoriented by the lack of sleep. Me and my companion the Tea Mug just finished watching Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Full Metal Jacket, which is really a story about what is going on in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan today, although it was originally set in Vietnam (and filmed exclusively in East London, believe it or not). By many, especially war veterans, considered the ultimate Vietnam movie, I think its grandeure lies in the fact that it is telling a story of war in general, and not of Vietnam in particular. And of the army as an institution.
Yesterday US President Barack Obama received hos debated Nobel Peace Prize. In his speach he defended America’s two ongoing wars by saying that some wars must be fought and that peace sometimes can be achieved by military means only. Although he later went to great length to praise the non-violence movement represented by King, Gandhi and such. My first reaction was to drop my jaw and clench my fist as I heard this man whom I have seen as a herald of non-violence and diplomacy stood there receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and at the same time say that war can be necessary and used for good means. Then I realized he could say nothing else. He was not speaking as the political activist Obama now, but as the commander in chief of the world’s largest military force. What could he say? And, naturally it was a game played for the home crowd. His speach should at least have pleased some of the conservatives, whose support he so direly needs.
Something is often forgotten by those who claim some wars are inevitable and must be fought. Yes, there are situations when the stacks are piled so high that there simply is no other solution. WWII is an example. Afghanistan today is an example. But what we forget is that something led us to that situation. And mostly the reasons to this is expoitation, greed, famine and an unwillingness to reach out a hand. A tendency to turn a blind eye. Today the war in Iraq must be fought to an end by means both military, diplomatic and humanitarian. But was it a war that had to be engaged? Hardly.
I do not believe that there will always have to be wars and I firmly think that most wars of the history of humanity could have been avoided. But with the words of Obama: We must all find “that spark of the divine that is in all our souls”.