Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Michigan State University & Violence

On Armistice Day weekend 2012 I watched Michigan State play basketball in Germany at a military base.  The teams had camo. uniforms.  The audience was "the troops", there were death and destruction vehicles in the stadium and weapons proudly displayed.  It sickened me.  This is the second year in a row that MSU has tied basketball to the military.  I mailed the following to the three listed.  To date I've had no response.
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November 10, 2012
TO:  Board of Trustees
         Lou Anna K. Simon – President
         Tom Izzo – Men’s Basketball Coach
FROM:  Arnold Stieber
               (address deleated for this post)
SUBJECT:   Michigan State and Violence
As an MSU Alum and military veteran (Army, infantry, Viet Nam) I am sadden and disturbed that MSU is directly promoting the use of violence via its glorification of the military.
The purpose of the military is to eliminate conflict via violence.   The TV ads with their simulated combat scenes make this statement very clearly – “Kill the bad guys.  This will keep us safe” - is the message.   For two consecutive years the Men’s Basketball team has performed in a military setting and thus has directly tied MSU to this barbarian concept.
I invite all of you to research the most decorated Marine in U.S. history – two-time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley Butler.  After he retired he reflected on his career and wrote a booklet – “War is a Racket”.   I also invite you to explore the words of General Eisenhower  - “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, as only one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity “.  
Once you begin to explore war, the symbols of war, the financial incentives for war, the promotion of war – subtle and overt – I hope that you will conclude that having sporting events with military involvement is helping neither those in the military nor this country.  For those in the military MSU’s involvement adds creditability to the concept that violence is “patriotic”, and “brave”, and the “American way”.   Many in the military, like Generals Butler and Eisenhower, will feel the pain of this barbarian concept later in life.  For this country, having sporting events with military involvement is saying that war is a game.  It is saying to other nations that the USA is about “winning” (aka conquest) and the USA (with its military) will “win”.
I am a graduate of Michigan State University.  I can’t change that.  I ask you to consider the associations that you make in the name of MSU and thus me.   Peace – Gandhi style.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Armistice Day

As a military veteran (Army, infantry, Viet Nam) I invite everyone to take a few moments this Sunday and think about the interconnectedness of life.  Why this Sunday? Because the eleventh day of the eleventh month was originally called Armistice Day – a day to mark the end of WWI and the beginning of world peace.  Congress passed a resolution that said in part, "this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations" and they invited "the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples".
Unfortunately, like many other "days", the original meaning has been forgotten, or intentionally changed.  This day is now called "Veterans Day", and what will be promoted is the military solution to conflict resolution.  There will be much talk of "patriotism", and "sacrifice", and "love of country", and "defending our freedom", but little about "mutual understanding" or "friendly relations" or non-violent solutions to conflict. 
Peace cannot be obtained by bombs, bullets, invasions and occupations.  Peace cannot be obtained by violence.  Peace can only be obtained by the simple, yet courageous act of talking, and developing mutual understanding.  Violence is the barbarian solution to conflict.  Think about it this Sunday.