Absolutely nothing!

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

pooot!, 11″x14″, marker and crayon on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

war’s dilemma, 11″x14″, acrylic and graphite on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper

War. What is it good for??!  Absolutely nothing….!”

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, as sung by Edwin Starr

Many, many suns and moons ago, I liked playing with toy soldiers, toy guns, and toy tanks. I enjoyed it so much that becoming a soldier was one of the dreams I had as a child. My interest in it was borne out of watching a lot of World War II movies on TV at that time. Even then, at a young age, I already knew that being a soldier meant defending your country by killing the enemy. And as callous as I may sound– yes, I’d always thought that “getting rid” of the enemies was a normal part of soldiering.
In my make-believe war games, I’d separate my toy soldiers into two camps: the first camp comprising the Filipinos and Americans, and the other one by the Japanese and Germans. Needless to say– and please excuse my scenario– a lot of the casualties lay on the second group. That was always the case. To me, that was how I’d win the war and do my job as a soldier: by staying alive at the expense of the enemy. In hindsight though, I realized I was totally insensitive to the challenges that a soldier would face daily in carrying out his/her combat duties. I hadn’t the slightest idea how each soldier must have felt after killing an enemy combatant or, even worse, a civilian! As a kid playing a make-believe war game, my conscience was oblivious to the moral aspect of war vis-a-vis one’s personal dedication to duty and faith. Not till many, many years later did I wisen up to get a grip on its harsh reality. And perhaps, even more apt, not until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes could I only truly begin to fathom the trying experiences these soldiers went through. That’s how I realized why being in the military is not for everyone and why some soldiers would experience PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after combat duty. Now, just imagining myself in their shoes, I am wondering as to how I would have turned out had I been alive already during the Second World War and– being an adult– drafted in the military to take up arms in defense of my motherland. Not that I would have said no and evaded it! I was just thinking how I would have fared: would I have been one of the early casualties of war, or one of those soldiers who lived to tell of its horrors? Ahh, whatever it is and for whatever war is truly worth, peace is always precious! And to achieve it– and keep it– in times of war, requires an even far more precious sacrifice: life. The irony of war is that lives are taken so that others may be spared. As such, it is much wiser not to take peace for granted and risk crossing over to its other side where death and conflicts reign. Otherwise, to get back to peace, one has to cross these conflicts anew. And I know for certain one will never be the same again once he/she crossed paths with war. Whichever side one is on, life is precious life no matter how one looks at it. It’s been said that if we didn’t learn the lessons from our mistakes in the past, history is bound to repeat itself. Sadly, we’ve been wrestling with this “peace” issue ever since, either in our hearts or on the battlefield or both– yes, struggling…ever since that fateful day two thousand years ago when an innocent Man had to lay down His life so that others may live!

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 60-lb paper

kaput!, 11"x14", crayon and ink on Strathmore Sketch 400-series, 60-lb paper