Three days ago, I was sent an article, titled The Last Letter. A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran.


Tomas Young wrote on behalf of the millions of souls brutalized in one way or another and the million plus lives taken, including 4,500 (or more) US troops, in a war entered through trickery, a grand game of bait and switch. He showed me how I had looked the other way, in apathy, in naivety while the country's leaders sought not but their own gain at any cost.  Tomas is dying from injuries received during that war. I have no doubt he served bravely, and I know he is dying courageously, and openly, sharing his truth from the core of himself, unfiltered. His clarity is exquisite, as though he has taken my face in his hands, and spoken to me from the depths of his soul until I could only experience his truth and I am not the same. My very sense of patriotism was used to manipulate me to cry war upon peoples of a country more than likely innocent of the charges levied against them.


I began to question, to wonder, how many wars the U.S. has fought. An awareness I have felt but not looked at, began to creep to the forefront of my thoughts. I learned that generation after generation, through 60 plus wars since 1636 (that’s roughly 1 war every 6.28 years for 377 years), we have fought one bloody war after another, in the name of freedom, in the name of God, for the love of country and family. I began to question what does centuries of battle reflect of our collective consciousness? How does it affect us and our thought, our families and day to day home life, our relationships and our clarity as a species?

My sense is that because of the centuries of war we all carry, the pain of PTSD is as deep as any imprint of our DNA. We are collectively wounded, fearful and dysfunctional. It could take generations with the soul purpose of peace for the muscle memory of war to be erased. The truth of these centuries is so weighted in quiet guilty awareness, so huge and painful it would be nearly as courageous to speak of it as a collective as it is for Tomas to die. Yet the conversation must be had, in living rooms, board rooms and across the world. It is the fervor behind our self righteousness brought to melodic form in Julia Ward Howe’s lyrics "Battle Hymn of the Republic" an anthem to war that reflects our passion to fight. It feeds our blindness to the knowledge that we must stop warring, especially the battles fought for leaders who have forgotten the sound of a beating heart.

Soul Poison; Robert Koehler asks in his Huff Post blog referring specifically of the Iraq War, “Ten years later, an enormous question looms: How do we get the poison out of our system? I think that’s what atonement means.”  Yes, the poison of this particular war looms large. What I see of my nation’s act disturbs me deeply. We have become global bullies in our sheep minded blindness. We protested. We complained, and then we followed. We allowed the hubris of men who plotted and planned and lied and knowingly we failed to act. At the very least we in the manner of Pontius Pilate  washed our hands of the whole affair, for ten years! We allowed our sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, mothers, to go, to fight and die and kill, simply because we did not unite and stop this war. We could have impeached. We could have turned off the fear mongering media and looked deep for the truth. We could have demanded through voting, uprising, boycotting. We could have been truly "patriotic" and stopped the madness. Democracy in its purest sense allows for this, even demands it. I am more aware now of our collective complacency. I am disturbed as I recognize that collectively we have become so slothful in our more-comfortable-than-anyone-else-and-deservedly-so mentality that we simply did not care enough to see the souls on the other side of the globe as those we would rescue—from Us!  


I ask myself what will it take for peace on earth? What will it take to rid myself of the poison I have drunk? The truth of it, for me is that it begins with the courage to atone, the atonement of apathy, ignorance and arrogance. It begins with being accountable to act in accordance with my deepest inner knowing and to STOP ignoring its truth. Yes. It begins by admitting my denial and staying clear, voting, protesting and demanding nothing less of those I have voted in to serve, do just that, serve the people. If my leaders run amok, in this nation I am free to seek, even demand the change of that leadership. 


Julia Ward Howe, wrote the lyrics to one of my favorite pieces of music, Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1861 "and links the judgment of the wicked at the end of time (New Testament, Rev. 19) with the American Civil War. The First Mother's Day was  proclaimed in 1870 by that same Julia Ward Howe and was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace. "

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

What was it that brought this sea change? Gettysburg? The entirety of that war's devastation? I can only guess. But she shows me here that change is possible. I join her in her passion and her prayer, making this my new anthem. As for Tomas? Thank you for your leadership and the truth, allowing me another chance to look at peace and war, head on.

“Glory, glory hallelujah, truth is marching on.”


 Images by Jeff Clay: Clayhaus.Net Photography

Shelly Williams has been the Minister of Support, which includes Social Media, for four years at The Arts Organization. Her focus and growing passion at TAO Metaversity is The Academy of Innerdimensional Studies. She is a TAOblogger and has begun a series of blogs intimately focused on Divine Proportion; Excavating the Wealth of the Feminine.



Jeff Clay's picture

As one of those who felt that the invasion of Iraq was unwarranted, unnecessary, illegal, and in the end would be unforgivable, I feel little in the way of moral superiority but more bafflement, sadness, and yes, anger that we continue to allow the saber-rattlers a soap box from which to lead us into unhappy debacle. Was Vietnam really that long ago? The half-life of lunacy seems to get shorter yet. We have the same vultures of regime change and American Exceptionalism yammering for a confrontation with Iran, a mere two years after we left Iraq dictator-free but a shambling sectarian hulk of its former self. We allow these vultures their vitriolic pulpit because we are not taught to question. Questioning is the result of inspired education and can lead to an enlightened citizenry. In this era of enforced austerity I can think of plenty of things to cut from our budget...education is not one of them.

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