Monday, October 21, 2013

General Vo Nguyen Giap Memorialized and a time for thought and consideration of today and yesterday

As I sit here in Ho Chi Minh City as a volunteer worker in a land that is new to me but where I feel very at home,  I am moved to consider the meaning of the passing of a world recognized General and a courageous leader of the people of Vietnam.  Of course I am writing of General Vo Nguyen Giap who died this past week at the age of 102 years.  

Reading stories in the world press the past few days I read of the same old divisions that seemed so stark back when I was in my early 20s.  The government of the USA was pressing for war and I was of draft age back then.  I had no thought of serving after I  asked myself, "Why would I want to kill Vietnamese, they have done nothing to me nor my neighborhood?" And I pointed out to friends and colleagues, "Vietnam is no threat to the US.  They lack an air force and a navy so they can't reach here.  We are being lied to to scare us of "the Red Menace".”    My answer came down to I will not kill Vietnamese, whether from the North or the South.  At the UofA I had been forced against my will to take ROTC and maybe that was good because I had picked up literature on the concepts of people's war as it had been practiced against the French in Vietnam as well as by Mao in China and by other leaders across Africa, Asia and South America including Cuba. (I feel impelled to clarify that ROTC did not supply me with these materials.)  I even considered that when my great, great, great .... grandfather fought the “stinking British” in the War of Independence, he and others used concepts of peoples war (perhaps they learned from the indigenous peoples of North America?). In other words, we in the US shared the tradition of anti-colonialism with the Vietnamese.  Our own shared experiences should have resulted in support for Vietnam instead of invading and attempting to re-colonize it. It is one of the paradoxes of history that false patriotism and propaganda can deceive people like us in the USA to follow leaders who have no concern for the best interests of our country.  Instead these “leaders” wage warfare to steal oil fields, rubber plantations and the like from countries weakened by such warfare --- killing other peoples and our own young in the process.

In fact General Vo Nguyen Giap like his comrade in arms and politics Ho Chi Minh was an internationalist, a person who believes that we are all sisters and brothers in the world.  Internationalists believe though we live in separately defined nations that our needs and desires are much the same and that through the organization of the working class and peasants who produce the wealth on an international basis we can achieve a world of  peace and plenty with harmonious relations unrestricted by the jealousy, greed and other fetters of capitalism that come between people and nations and lead to destruction, hatred, and war.  I am proudly an internationalist.  On the other hand, capitalism is based on the brute dominance of the small class of the rich and super rich who always work to divide and conquer and winner take all whether in the purely personal or in international relations.
This is why so many of us continue to organize and mobilize around many issues so that we as a people in the US rise up and say no more!  We will not invade other countries for resources, for intimidation, or in an effort to force our ways upon others.  The Constitution says it is a duty of government to defend the nation.  All it takes is a much smaller defensive force to easily do just that without the invasion of other countries, without nuclear missile threats, without nuclear bombs, without chemical and biological weapons, without drones or other weapons of genocide.  We have the capacity to be an independent nation, a very resourceful nation taking care of the needs of our people and living in equality, freedom and happiness if we will just re-distribute the wealth away from the 1% who take advantage of us.  Then the rich cannot use our government for their corporate interests of profit through the inhumane (and usually illegal) invasion of other countries.  It is up to us, the people of the United States of (North) America to do this.  That is what I believe and that is what I put my life to achieving.  For all my friends for all these years, not one step back -- the future is ours.  We must seize the time. For ourselves, for our children, our grandchildren and theirs.  Ho Chi Min, General Giap, Live Like them.  Dare to Struggle.  Dare to Win.

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