Occupy Centralia

Demonstrators holding signs calling for peace line Pearl Street in downtown Centralia in this 2010 Chronicle file photo. 

We’re all aware of what last Saturday was. 

For me, it was a good day to be a part of the weekly vigil of Veterans for Peace, which is held on Pearl Street in front of the library and has been for each week over the past 15 years.

I haven’t been a part of the event for all that long, but I’ve gotten a few years in, quietly holding a sign calling for an alternate condition to war, which has engulfed our nation for over 65 years.

I proudly say the response we received from those who drove by on Saturday was the strongest since I’ve been on board. With only one exception, that result was positive. The people who tooted their horns or responded to my wave with one of their own was refreshing indeed. Perhaps that increase may be temporary so far as Lewis County is concerned, or it may be becoming more of a national trend.

Another trend — if you want to call it that — is that we seldom get any positive response from young men driving large, tall pickup trucks or in large SUVs. I’ve learned to concentrate my attentions on smaller, more sensible vehicles. That isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it seems to fit the occasion better than anything else I can come up with.

Oh yes, to prove my reasoning faulty, the one negative response we received Saturday was from a young man in a smaller car with what appeared to be his family. He pulled over to the curb in front of us, rolled down his window and, as nearly as I can precisely recall, shouted, “It takes two to fight, you know. It’s better to fight over there than here!” and drove off without a response from us.

I wish I was able to think faster “on my feet” because my response would have been something to the effect of, “Isn’t it even better to not fight at all?”  That alternative likely never crossed his mind.

I’m reminded of the statement attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt, which was “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Is it just coincidence that we fought no wars while he was in office?  Our nuclear arsenal is the biggest stick in the world. We don’t have to fight other peoples’ wars for them. The fear of total destruction from our arsenal should be enough to deter anyone from an attack on us.

There was a letter to the editor, Saturday, from Larry Kershner that brought up that fact, plus mentioning the amount of money you and I are spending to make that arsenal even bigger. The talk is now of a $1.2 trillion increase in an even bigger collection of “The Big Ones!”

Can you picture how a tiny portion of that would suffice to supply free tuition to enough doctors to staff every hospital in the nation … including virtually every grossly understaffed veterans hospital?

Think how many jobs could be created by offering the same inducement to prospective teachers, thereby providing more qualified teachers for smaller classes. Somehow, most of us still think of ourselves as the best educated nation in the world. Wrong. We’re way down on the list … No. 8 in the most recent listings.

We’re behind Singapore, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway!  Funny, not one of those nations has planned a trillion-dollar increase in their nuclear arsenal. 

At least we’re ahead of Australia, New Zealand and Iceland in the top 10, if that’s any consolation.

•••

Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at bookmaven321@comcast.net.

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(1) comment

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"Isn’t It Better to Not Fight at All?" Would that we had nothing worth defending.

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