America, What Is It We Are Dying For?

It is a sad day when a country decides there is greater honor in a soldier knowing "how to die by the rules… when the only important thing should be learning how to live like a human being." So goes a quote from The Bridge on the River Kwai. Amazing how something from an old movie about war remains applicable when a country is at war. Someone must understand what we are seeing, and it makes me ask…

America, what is it we are dying for?

And what is it that my husband Sgt. Kevin Benderman, and soldiers like him love so much, that they are willing to fight for it, by refusing to go to war anymore, and deciding to choose life instead?

I have looked around this country at the cities, the power plants, the industrial parks, the car lots and I think – "this is what we're killing for. Mechanized guns… and mechanized industry… weapons destroying humanity – one and the same." THIS is what my husband and others like him will no longer fight for.

Driving along an interstate leading into any city in America, the view becomes congested with neon signs, billboards, every major chain store lining the feeder roads – some twice – one layer thick. It reminds me of the old movie sets – faades of a town – fancy store fronts with nothing inside.

Is this what we are dying for?

There are cathedrals the size of shopping malls, complete with bowling alleys and fast food restaurants. "Community church" takes on a new meaning and I wonder if the pastor would even know my name. Would he know the value of the donation I have made – because it really was all that I had left to give – or would there be an IOU in my mailbox because I had not given enough?

Is this what we are dying for?

The tall buildings blocking the sun, the smog hiding a billion stars, lights in every window and lining pinnacled roofs, both day and night. Steam pouring from air ducts, air conditioning always on high, gas-guzzling mega-sized SUV's for quick trips to over-priced markets, and no one with time for any human exchange, this is what I see.

Is this what we are dying for?

My husband and others have said no to the dying and no to the killing as they reach for a better way. Their better way is fighting still. Their better way is not a broken contract in the service of their country, it is not a broken promise made to defend America. Their better way is fighting harder, and fighting mad. They're fighting for Life, the American way.

On the back-roads that we travel in any small American town, there is a store with an open door and a family name on the sign. You can't find a name brand, but you'll find a well-loved brand, it works just the same and it came from our home. The old dog at the front door wags his greetings and the store owner will tell you a story while he's making your change.

Now THIS is what we are living for.

Set back off of the roadway a small chapel nestles into the landscape. Its doors open wide and the pastor waits on the step with a smile. Community members weed the gardens and paint the shutters. Monetary donations do not count here, their gifts of time and friendship hold the real value.

THIS is what we are living for.

At night the small houses radiate warm light from their windows, and a soft glow from the front porch gestures "welcome home." In the backyards the stars shine and the moon lights the quiet, as the outline of the trees comforts the earth.

THIS is the America worth fighting to LIVE for.

The contract to our country is intact. The commitment to defend our constitution, to serve our country and its people is made stronger. The weapons now: understanding and truth; respect for the differences that brought us together, and courage to face the world in peace – And the courage to listen, to hear others' voices, to know that we are made stronger by the contributions of others, not by the destruction of what we do not understand.

People criticize us, my husband, me and those who stand as we do. They criticize us saying we no longer serve our country by speaking out against war. I ask them, do they serve? Do they give to their country, to the sacrifice of our veterans, of their families, of the soldiers they so strongly urge to war, now? Do they sacrifice, do they have a contract, and have they made a commitment to the cause? Are they willing to die for the country they live in?

Will they put it all on the line – will they fight to the end?

Or are they willing to live – for a country worth living for? Are they willing to say NO to all that will only destroy humanity, and their country's honor, and fight with life to bring that honor home?

My husband, and others, have said NO to more killing, more destruction. They have put their lives on the line to live for Peace.

America… what are you living for??

February 5, 2005