By Joshua Shurley
Mid-August is upon us. Today, three of us from VFP – Chapter 180 are off to the 34th annual gathering of Veterans For Peace in Spokane, Washington. Hosted by Chapter 35, we come together this year under the theme of “Sacred Lands, Sacred Lives: Peace Knows No Borders.” It couldn’t have come at a better time. These conventions are an opportunity for us to mentally and emotionally process these difficult times, to find strength in solidarity, to unite and form strategic plans, and to generally recharge our batteries as activists (and we have some fun too).
These are challenging times we find ourselves in, and a dark shadow is cast over us as so many proverbial fires rage on. Having just commemorated seventy-four years since the brutal atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during the Second World War, we now face the uncertainty of the US withdrawing from the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty with Russia and withdrawing from the JCPOA (known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal”), all while the current US regime of chickenhawks beat the war drums against Iran and Venezuela–not to mention the ongoing destruction we carry out or sponsor in Syria, Yemen, across Africa, and in Palestine. Then there is the recent spate of mass shootings goiing on almost daily here in the United States. The already-bloated military budget continus to increase, even as funds for public infrastructure, healthcare, education, housing, and climate change research (among many other things) are being starved. The corporate media ignores most of this, as it propagates more of the same reality TV-style “info-tainment” we have become so numb to. These are the perverse consequences of rampant militarism.
Now more than ever, the work of VFP is sorely needed as we use our platform as veterans to educate the public and expose the true costs of war, to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, and work to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. As we do so, we stand in solidarity with our allies on the front lines of social justice wherever they may be. The struggle continues for peace at home, and peace abroad.
More will soon follow as the gathering in Spokane takes place. We are grateful to our supporters from around the world and here in our local community. Vigilance is not easy. We must stand up to the lunatic fringe trying to lead us to doom. We must work to restore sanity to our planet, our country, and our communities as if the survival of humanity depends on it. Because it does. It’s time to get started.