A Review

billy-moon

Billy Moon author Douglas Lain

Review by Daniel Shea of Veterans For Peace Chapter 72

September 16th 2013

Abstract:

“Billy Moon was Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne, the world-famous author of Winnie the Pooh and other beloved children’s classics. Billy’s life was no fairy-tale, though. Being the son of a famous author meant being ignored and even mistreated by famous parents; he had to make his own way in the world, define himself and reconcile his self-image with the image of him known to millions of children. A veteran of World War II, a husband and father, he is jolted out of midlife ennui when a French college student revolutionary asks him to come to the chaos of Paris in revolt. Against a backdrop of the apocalyptic student protests and general strike that forced France to a standstill that spring, Milne’s new French friend is a wild card, able to experience alternate realities of the past and present. Through him, Milne’s life is illuminated and transformed, as are the world-altering events of that year.”

I just finished this excellent book by Mr. Lain – the timing for publication couldn’t have been better as in Paris of 1968 when a growing opposition to U.S.A.’s War in Vietnam was spreading across the globe, an opposition that recognized the loss of one’s own freedoms in a world seized in the grip of an iron fist of fascism.

Today people here in the U.S. & everywhere in the world have been speaking out against US military strikes against Syria. A revitalization of the anti-war, peace & justice movements are growing. There is much to be gleaned from this fictional look back at our broken history, what inspired, what worked, what didn’t.

There seems to me the story leaves us with lingering questions – why didn’t it set the world rightside up? Maybe the answer is, there are more chapters to this story than anyone ever expected. Life is always just a beginning, there is no end, the end of an actor in the play of life dies and leaves the stage but the stage & the play continues, each act just another beginning. Are we looking for the end or a utopian theme? What is our goal, how would we write the script, what characteristics would we ascribe to ourselves?

These are the same questions that faced the students and workers in Paris of 1968 and Mr. Lain takes us through the streets of Paris with Christopher Robin Milne, two activist students Gerrard and Natalie and a bear named William in a surrealistic, magical realism fantasy of dreaming a revolution while living in and making a revolution.

Who are we, what would we do if fascism creeped into our everyday lives? Would we be revolutionaries, zombies or collaborators? Well believe it or not fascism is on your doorstep, it is time for you to decide what actor/character you will bring to the stage.

Open Letter to our Congress and the People of the United States

Open Letter to our Congress and the People of the United States
by Daniel Shea of Veterans For Peace
September 4th 2013

My major concern is the possibility that president Obama will employ a military solution against Syria which I am adamantly opposed to.

I have heard the arguments over Assad’s gassing his citizens, the statements that claim we have evidence but none have been presented nor been verified by credible sources.

We do not need another cry of WMD wolf but even if true the idea that bombs, bullets, grenades and mortars are any less atrocious, nor no less criminal is to me absurd.

I am glad that congress has asked the president to make his case before them – it is as it should be. If congress does the right thing and opposes intervention then the world may gain some faith that in the USA, democracy lives. That is does work and that the people of the United States have no ill will against the people of Syria and that we believe a political solution is possible as a bridge to peace.

Thus we need all our representatives to oppose any military strike no matter how limited. Two wrongs – do not make a right! Though if they approve the strike against Syria only more deaths will occur. Which begs the question in what universe is our killing any less evil than theirs?

Both sides in this civil and now sectarian war are culpable for murdering the lives of innocent men, women and children. Both sides accuse the other of using chemical weapons, crying foul by the other. There are no good guys in this conflict, a conflict we need not enter into, for it is for Syrians and Syrians alone to solve.

WE as a nation have no credibility in the Middle East, nor do we in much of the rest of the world and if we should again stick the noses of our missiles into this fight, I am afraid that it will only get worse. No one can predict that it will not escalate, maybe even into a world war, a nightmare that could equal an apocalypse.

I am a Viet Nam combat veteran, an Agent Orange victim of our military’s use of chemical weapons and know the pain this has caused me and so many other veterans and their families thus we are all opposed to these poisons but have no stomach for making things worse. Just so president Obama can save face for drawing a red line he really had no right to make all on his own.

There are more courageous alternatives, first wait for the United Nations inspectors report, second encourage the UN to call for a truce to discuss a path to end the conflict, third let the so-called rebels (many now who are outsiders even more detrimental to democracy) that we will not arms them and will only support them in UN peace process.

If we really want to make a difference we will work to make all weapons sales to other nations an international crime and hold those individuals and manufacturers accountable for war crimes.

If president listens to our people and not the war profiteers (who are salivating over the possibility of their products of death filling their coffers with blood money galore) then I will applaud him, for it takes more wisdom and courage to walk the path of peace than one of war.

The UK has said “NO”! And, we say NO! Peace be with You!

An Allegory of Truth

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An Allegory of Truth
by Daniel Shea 8/30/2013

True story, an Arab friend (let’s call him Jamal to protect his identity) told me a story about a visit from his brother who was on vacation, coming from Saudi Arabia.

Jamal: My brother came to visit, I was telling him, I was concerned over the treatment of women in our country. He argued all the old dominate male myths of superiority that I and all our society had been bred on.

Brother: Women must know their place, if they abide by our traditions then their husbands will respect them and they and their husbands will be happy. This is the way it is and has always been. Why do you want to stir up the a hornet’s nest? What have these Americans done to you? You are being corrupted by their evil influences, it is their propaganda that is misleading you, time for you to come home and get your bearings.

Jamal: We continued to argue but he stuck to his guns, and before long his vacation came to an end and he would have to return home. But before leaving he wanted a memento and possibly something he could make some money off when back at home. Thus, my brother found a novelty shop and these peculiar postcards and pictures called “Magic Eye Pictures”, you know, the ones where you stare at these two dimensional cards or posters and like magic, you see a three dimensional image. They are kind of amazing as your eyes adjust to the staring, eyes crossing and tearing suddenly as if by magic and as though looking through a glass window, space opens and a three dimensional image appears.

Jamal said his brother bought up a large supply to take back home where he had visions of amazing all his family and friends and maybe making a little profit by selling some of them. If things went well he might even see if he could become the business representative of the manufacturer for all of Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately when he showed them to his family and friends they were unable to see anything but the squiggly two dimensional colored lines and nothing more. He was about to lose a lot of money on this venture and his dream of being the king of the ‘magic eye business’ in Saudi Arabia going up in smoke. He needed to find someone who could see what he could see. He and his friends, smoked some weed, still nothing, they went to a Saudi speak easy to drink the demon alcohol and nothing. His friends said he was crazy, that the Americans had brainwashed him, there was nothing to see but posters and cards with crazy colored zigzag lines. He began looking at each of the posters and cards, and he could still see the 3D images as clearly as a day’s sunrise.

His mother and father humored him and said they didn’t understand what had happened to him but they liked the colors and abstractness of his posters and they bought a few and framed them to put on their walls. This was Jamal’s brother ultimate humiliation. It became apparent that he was alone in this ability to see what he saw. He began to doubt his own sanity, and called me, saying Jamal, what did you do to me, no one here is able to see what I can see so plainly. What kind of American trick is this, did you drug me with some evil American poison?

Jamal: I told him no, don’t be silly, but now you know how it feels when nobody believes you. You did the same thing to me when I spoke about justice and rights for women. It is a little like Plato’s Cave Allegory where once exposed to truths previously outside one’s perceptions, when one first sees something never experienced before we can’t even believe our own eyes, but soon the facts of the reality set in and when we try to explain this objective experience to others they think we are mad.

That is what I was trying to explain to you about the injustice of our homeland and its’ repression of women.  It is like this, once you see injustice you become familiar with its forms, its patterns, its shapes and you will see it in any direction you look and you can’t escape it, you learn to see the opposite of injustice recognizing the differences between rights and wrongs and like the magic eye pictures the truth immediately appears. Trying to teach others what you see as plain as the nose on your face is not so easy, they must experience the truth for themselves and once seen they cannot see differently but if they fear to tell the truth because they fear being alone, an outcast or even insane, then to deny the truth, they must lie.

There isn’t any magic way of perceiving the truth about the world we live in, one must experience the contradictions about our traditions and look beyond our own cultural box, it is the trappings of things we have been taught all our lives. To break free, open your mind and think for yourself, allowing yourself to see the reality before your eyes and trust your own heart, it will give you confidence to tell the truth. – The end.

Jamal told me this story and it affected me deeply, I began to share his story because it teaches us to think critically, we all know the patterns of oppression, so look for its opposite, learn the patterns of true justice and find your truth, then you will find your path to living your life as a true human being.

Michael Hastings dies in a fiery auto accident? Really?

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Michael Hastings dies in a fiery auto accident? Really?
By Daniel Shea June 19th 2013‏

There have been a number of heartfelt stories on the death of  this award winning investigative journalist Michael Hastings, as well there should be. Still something is lacking.

I had read his book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan” early this year. This book and his June 22, 2010 Rolling Stone article “The Runaway General” both profile General Stanley McChrystal and his inner circle.

I too am shocked at Michale Hastings death in a story that says “[he] …died early Tuesday in an explosive one-car crash in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles…A witness, … named Jose, says he saw Hastings’ car moving at an extraordinarily fast speed coming down Highland from Santa Monica Blvd., which would mean the car was traveling south. According to Jose’s description, the vehicle may have gone out of control while crossing Melrose Ave.” (The Daily Caller)

What troubles me about the stories on his tragic death is that they are routine, for a not very routine reporter.

No investigative journalism has gone into this story. Why was Hastings speeding, does he have a record of reckless driving? Was he drinking? Did he have an argument with someone earlier in the day, who was the last person to see him? What was his state of mind? Was he suffering from PTSD?

Michale Hasting took down a Commanding General and his inner circle with his exposes, these men were at the heart of a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan. They are trained killers, propagandists and true believers in their way or the highway. Hastings reported in his book that it was hinted that if the story went sour on McChrystal (and it did) they might have to kill him. Hastings confronted this threat directly and was satisfied & let it go.

But now that this incredibly brave journalist has died in a “runaway out of control, hit a tree and exploding into a fiery blaze car accident” no one is questioning the possibility of a hit?

Hastings deserves at least a better explanation of the circumstances that led to his early demise.

Read his book “The Operators” and his “The Runaway General” Rolling Stone article as well as his other contributions

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-runaway-general-20100622
http://www.rollingstone.com/contributor/michael-hastings

Agent Orange: Monsanto’s Legacy

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By Daniel J. Shea
© 5/21/13

March Against Monsanto on May 25th actions held around the world, this is a Statement in Solidarity hopefully to be read at actions everywhere.

The Vietnam War is unfortunately still a reality for millions of Vietnamese and Americans and their progeny who continue to suffer from the effects of Agent Orange. For ten years, from 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed 20 million gallons of toxic herbicides, including Agent Orange, over large sections of Vietnam. Agent Orange contained dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. The World Health Organization considers dioxin to be a carcinogen (causes cancer) and the American Academy of Medicine classifies dioxin as a teratogen (causes birth defects).

People exposed to Agent Orange have died or become totally incapacitated by diseases that the U.S. government recognizes as related to dioxin exposure for purposes of paying compensation to Vietnam veterans in the United States. Children born to parents exposed to dioxin during the war and people in areas of heavy spraying – “hot spots” – still suffer from horrible deformities.

I served in areas of heavy dioxin spraying in Vietnam, thought I had survived the war and would be able to return to a normal life until my first-born son was hit by friendly fire, a chemical weapon that can cripple or kill. Casey was born with a cleft palate, prune belly, a congenital heart disease, and other birth anomalies. He suffered a seizure that took him from his mother’s arms to a pediatric ICU neonatal center. In a few weeks, my wife and I were able to take Casey home. Our life was anything but normal, what with learning to care for Casey’s special needs and the hundreds of doctors’ appointments. A year later, our second child was born, a healthy beautiful baby girl we named Harmony.

Casey and Harmony played, fought, and laughed over the silliest of things. They marveled at the world around them and their love grew deep and inseparable. Arlene and I felt we  had been spared the worse prognosis for Casey’s future.

Then came the day for Casey to have heart surgery. Although too painful to tell the whole story, Casey went into a coma for seven weeks and while in my arms, Casey took his last breath and was no more. You think you know pain, but the loss of my son was a bayonet to his heart and I nearly lost my sanity. Grief took me to the depths of hell; but for the love of my wife and daughter, I would have perished.

I now know what it is like to be Vietnamese, to have your heart ripped out, to stand by helplessly watching your children suffer, to see them as prisoners in their own bodies and losing them because of a war that should never have been and a toxic chemical that should never have been used.

Although it has been 52 years since the first spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam, Thanh Nien News reported that “62 blood samples taken at random from residents of Da Nang… [all] tested positive for dioxin… The project was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, Hatfield Consultants.”

The ghosts of our children cry out for justice. It is time to repair the damage and to recognize the suffering of families, the Vietnamese and ours.

We of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign along with Veterans For Peace are now rewriting legislation to provide medical, rehabilitative and social services compensation to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange; remediation of the dioxin-contaminated hot spots; and medical services for children and grandchildren of U.S. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese-Americans born with the same diseases and deformities.

Fifty-two years is long enough to wait to provide compensation for the victims of this shameful chapter in our nation’s history.

Thus today May 25th 2013 as the legacy of Monsanto continues its’ disregard for human, animal and plant life of the very substance we need to survive, are poisoned or genetically modified with grave consequences for our future and the future of the planet.

Therefore, I and we of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign and Veterans For Peace are here with you in solidarity in the March Against Monsanto.

Daniel J. Shea, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam in 1968, is a former member of the Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace and on the national core committee of Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign.
http://www.vn-agentorange.org/
http://www.veteransforpeace.org/
http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

My Son-in-Law’s beatiful poem to my granddaughter

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~ Simple Wishes ~

By Cory Clayton © 2013
For my Kaylea Dawn

The essence of innocence lay asleep on my lap
The only sounds are your breath and the continuous tap
Of the keys as I capture my thoughts through these words
Knowing I’d give my life to give you all you deserve

Not earthly possessions, which we falsely hold dear
My wish for you is simple, a life without fear

May you truly comprehend; wants versus needs
And be blessed with a heart that helps to plant seeds
So that others may see you as a light
That provides them with courage to continue their fight

Not a fight caused by greed, a desire for more
My wish for you is simple, a life without war

Be a woman of courage, pride, beauty, and grace
But one who’s not fearful to stand in the face
Of those who preach hate, the message of fear
Use love, hope, and kindness when the battle draws near

Not just battles comprised of the physical form
My wish for you is simple, strength to weather life’s storms

One more thing my dear, that I want you to know
That I love you more than I ever could show
An angel sent down from the heavens above
My wish for you is simple, unconditional love

Love Always, Dad

A Soldiers Dream

By Daniel Shea © 5/25/11

Tigar in the bamboo forest

Ghosts with guns charge our line,
tigers growl in the bamboo,
your brother is here.

Monsoon winds sweep the ocean
glasses fog in the fog of war.
Death taps my shoulder
shakes my sleep, shoulder is frozen in pain, …
Pain tells me, I am still alive,
t was only a dream.

Not a dream but memories long buried.
The smell of mold on a forest floor,
sky in patches of red, white and blue-green
Peep through a quilt of evergreens, palm and jungle canopies
men step silently, appear and disappear – chameleons with guns

Rush of fear and sweat, fssssssszzzzzzzt!
snipers’ aim misses its’ target and takes another
Elephant grass stained in blood, target for the M60
screams echo in the hollows of my skull
Be still not to draw attention… to our position.
compass due north, moral compass killed on arrival.

Forgotten, names carved like scars in a granite monument,
Families touch cold stone, give warmth and life to a soul once lived
Monuments to war, are graveyards to a peace that could have been.