This month, New Zealand has been rocked by back-to-back multiple fatalities of soldiers in service with our military in Afghanistan. Emotions running high, and the immediacy yet lasting nature of social media enabling fingers to run wild, the digital version of the proverbial foot-in-mouth has manifested itself resoundingly in the Sumner Burstyn scandal.
With dismay we watched the larger undercurrent of awakening to the horrors of war remodelled into a very specific and personal attack at a micro level. A convenient, timely and desirable effect for corporate profiteers of said wars; much of the ensuing rhetoric was extremely counter-productive to humanity.
From threats of violence and retaliation to the airing of sheer disgust and wholesale rejection, we struggled to find the silver lining.
Buried in the comments of the aforementioned article, we found the beginnings of it.
“I’ve never understood people who target the individual soldiers when they disagree with a war – especially Vietnam. By all means target the government loudly and vocally, but leave the individual soldiers out of it. People who sign up to the army do so in service of their country. They don’t choose where they get posted, but they do choose a career where they are willing to risk their life to protect our country and others around the world.”
On our Facebook page, we found the rest. The below video is of a haka. Performed for the fallen, as a final and public act of respect and remembrance.
Despite having large metropolitan cities, New Zealand is small enough for everyone to have a connection with everyone else by several degrees of separation. In this case, closer. Our Occupy Media team members almost uniformly (no pun intended) have military ties; through our parents and grandparents who were veterans of World War II and other wars; by our high school classmates, family members and partners, many of whom were either employed by various armed forces or, as in the case of one, serving in the Territorials alongside one of the recently fallen, adding a very personal dimension to the tragedy.
Having ourselves grown up in relative peace and in a largely unarmed society, we remain staunch in our anti-war activism; in our distrust and distaste for the colonialist, war-for-resource agendas at play amongst the corporations, with unwavering contempt for the insidious back-room deals behind the front lines of Earth’s constant geopolitical theatre.
However many of our families and friends remain employed by those very governments, employed by those corporates, regardless of whether they are aware of or endorse the hidden agendas.
All humans are a product of their experiences; a result of their conditioning. Most often we believe what we are taught and mimic what we have seen. It is only when given alternatives for comparison that the concept of “choice” is activated. This is why we fight against poverty, against slavery, against war, against child prostitution, against corruption; for they are all ultimately the weapons of deprivation of choice, inflicted upon the innocent.
Those soldiers in generations before us and those who are dying today, by the hand of another or by their own – they are not the 0.1%; whose offshore bank accounts grow ever-filled by the very presence of war upon this planet. They are our extended family and compatriots facing many of the same struggles we do and in a very physical and confronting landscape but more; they are our only hope.
For if the day comes that they are ordered to perpetuate atrocities directly against us; the unarmed citizen; it is only they who will be able to prevent the injustice and protect us. In times of governmental treason; it is only they who will be able to secure the country.
Whether or not they are now used as lapdogs of a foreign power, for private profit; if the ultimate day of decision comes, their upbringing, their whakapapa, their conscience, their familial conditioning, MUST prevail. Or we are lost.
Bringing hope to bridging the divide between the armed services and those who are dismayed at the political direction of armed services, and also our national police forces, are the following worthy organisations. If you have not yet, we urge you to check them out, and consider lending them your support. They are evidence that you can serve in the military or law enforcement while still remaining true to the Bill of Rights, to international law, to your own conscience.
If you don’t know who Sgt. Shamar Thomas is – strongly suggest you watch the following video. He is the epitome of Occupy Marines. The first video is of his famous and passionate defense of unarmed peaceful protesters at Occupy Wall Street; the second a sit-down interview where he has the opportunity to explain his reasoning and motives.
We all must have a voice in our future, for our future to be free of tyranny in whatever form.
OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND MEDIA TEAM: $0 funding; 10 months of unadulterated truth.