Profoundly simple

So far, that’s the best description I can come up with for a book I was given recently by a good friend. It’s a collection of writings by William Stafford entitled “Every War Has Two Losers“. I’ve been steadily working my way through it and passages keep coming back to me, like friendly ghosts.

Obviously, with a title like that it’s not going to be light reading and I didn’t think i’d be quite up to the expected content, but I’m discovering a certain kind of kindred spirit within these pages. I wasn’t aware of Mr. Stafford before, but I will be seeking more of him now.

Q1a: What would I do if someone attacked my grandmother?

A self-evident question, apparently, and yet…

Q1b: What would I do if one of my family attacked someone else’s grandmother?

As Stafford describes, the first is a simplified example of the kinds of arguments used against Conscientious Objectors, which he was for WWII and onward. The second question, then, is the next logical step, but the one we never (or very rarely) hear asked.

Another pair of questions:

Q2a: Is there any place in life today for persons who announce beforehand that they will not engage in carrying out the tasks implied in the current policies of military men?

Compared to:

Q2b: Would we like to see such people exist abroad?

Whether or not I agree with him*, it’s impossible for me not to see the basic truth of his questions. Not only do they distill supposedly complex problems into clear and concrete examples (without trivializing them), but they turn many of my initial reactions and assumptions on end.

Good books from good friends are precious things. Thanks, Mommy Gayle.

* And I don’t, always. Just because something’s true doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. I’ve got a bit of a stubborn streak sometimes.