Friday, April 30, 2010


To explore a little more about this idea of the sense of contentment in Calcutta…

I’ll preface by saying that I have read travelers who have been around the world, traveled to Africa even, and never seen the extent of poverty that can be found here.image  I have no idea what it is like in central war-torn Africa—I actually expect it would be worse there because no one would have money, unlike India where there are definitely wealthy people and there is a healthy tourism industry— but it’s enough to say that Calcutta has one of the most impoverished populations on the planet, if only because of its huge number of people who are living in such a small space.

Jacob and I have only met and talked with mostly Brahmin and warrior caste people which is probably limiting our perspective.

The four castes are these: Brahmin (priest), warrior (Kshatriya), merchant/businessman (Vastriya) and artisan/labor (Huiti). The bottom isn’t really a caste—they are the Untouchables, the Dalits.

This is the sorrow of Hinduism and karma—while it might provide a neat, packaged explanation for why there is such inequality, it also means there is a universal feeling that “you deserve what you get.”

Caste system has been outlawed in India. Everyone assures us it no longer matters, and I think each generation it matters a little less. But it is telling that we haven’t befriended anyone of the lowest castes. The reasoning being that they are less educated and less likely to speak English.

We meet people who live on the streets but they can only speak Bengali usually. Nevertheless they are friendly, want us to meet their families, want to know where we are from.

Our guest house


P1030295 The caste system persists in that there is a servant culture. We have servants here. It’s like we normally would if we were in a hotel. The difference is, our cook and housekeepers are living in the house we live in. They don’t live with their families. It is one more sort of tragic situation that it seems a majority of low-paid people do not get to see their families but once a month or twice a year.

Our friend in Turkey, Ali, had a similar situation. He loved his wife and kids and talked about them often. But he had to live in Istanbul because there was no way to make money in the town he came from. He worked in a dirty little shop gluing Nike shoes together. India is full of stories like that. And so it goes.

But it doesn’t seem tragic to them and here’s why I think this is so:

It’s an improvement from their situation. Calcutta is actually one of the better places to be in comparison to its neighbors. Hence, the reasoning behind the lack of despair that I feel in the people of the city.


For example at a home we visited last night, the servant girl was from the Sunderbans, home of the Bengal tiger a bit south from here. She was very young and sent to a wealthier family to work. Is it sad that she is growing up away from her family and having to work as a maid? Or is it sadder that in her home there is no food and no hope for a better life? Here in her work place in Calcutta she actually gets clothing, plenty of food, and even a little schooling.

 image Or take the people who live on the street. Most of them are from the poor surrounding states of Bihar or Orissa, or refugees from Bangladesh. Those places are worse than here, I’m told. Here there are public fountains where you don’t have to go far to get water. Here there are places to beg, and the Kali temple gives a bowl of rice every day to the city’s poor. There may be employment opportunities. Or take the boys at Daya Dan. They come from lying unattended in the streets. Their parents probably viewed the birth of a child with disabilities as bad karma and were ashamed of them. Now they get regular meals and tutors and books. It is an improvement—every person we see whose situation looks bad, there is always someone next to them whose situation is worse. Maybe this helps the feeling of optimism.


The Kalighat Kali Temple

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Calcutta is the first place I have cried myself to sleep from thinking about someone else besides myself.

Don’t worry—I don’t cry myself to sleep often. But when it has happened in the past, it has always been about my own personal woes.

But I have cried myself to sleep here both when I think of the loving, smiling boys at Daya Dan, and when I think about the thousands of strangers who I have seen doing the most shocking things I have ever seen in my life.

On any given day as I travel to the orphanage or go out with friends in the evening, I might see a man the age of my grandfather brushing his teeth with his finger with the water gushing out of a public fountain…a wizened old woman sitting in 100 degree heat on the side of the road, her arms bare and wrinkled…a woman with a terribly tiny baby begging for milk who probably would just resell the milk if she got the chance…a man retching into the gutter…people sleeping on traffic medians at nighttime…the smell of defecation greeting my nostrils because so many people here have no access to a toilet…naked barefoot toddlers playing on the sidewalks with nothing but a string tied around their waists…the piles of trash that line the sides of the streets with children, crows, and lean dogs picking through them, the buildings covered in black grime, the one long honk as taxis and buses and autos belching pollution slam by, and similar images and senses kind of just hitting me one after the other.

P1020921 P1030414 P1030400 P1020924 P1030329

P1030319P1030399 P1030443P1030445 P1030451 P1030456 P1030468 P1030463 P1030460

But as tough as those images can be, that’s not why I cry.

I cry because I’m confused. When people ask how I like Calcutta—the way most people still say the name of the city— and I assure them I like it very much, they smile knowingly.

“That is because Calcutta is the City of Joy,” they say.

This is why I cry. I am totally disarmed. The people here are happy. The boys at Daya Dan are happy. What a tremendous struggle that causes me inside myself to see that. What a mind-boggling dilemma. I know not everyone here is equally happy. I have no doubt many of them would love to see an improvement. But the level of friendliness here, the absence of crime, and the seeming lack of resentment towards me, a clearly wealthy Westerner, is undeniable. I’ll be honest when I say I don’t quite understand it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A moment of triumph

image Today some of the volunteers were talking and laughing about Joy and how he was pretty much hopeless and impossible to reach and that all you can do with him is try to get him to stop from eating his pencil. And that while some boys could be rehabilitated, he is pretty much beyond hope. It’s true that while I often try to say hi to Joy and get him to look me in the eye, he is so completely in his own world and rambunctiously busy getting into things he shouldn’t I have felt like he is out of the realm of human communication.

But later as I was drinking out of my mango juice bottle, Slice (most popular Indian drink here, I think) I found Joy at my side reaching for the bottle. I had already noticed that he loved bottled water. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

I knelt down to his height. I said, “Joy, can you say “mango”?

“Mango” he said.

“Do you want some of my mango drink?”

“Yes.” he said. He was SO focused. He was looking me in the eye. He WANTED THAT DRINK!

I had never been able to interact with him before. I was thrilled. I told him to open his mouth wide and poured some of the drink into his mouth. Satisfied, he ran off. A minute later, he ran to me, threw his arms around my legs, looked up at me and smiled.

I knew then that Joy had potential to communicate if you went about it the right way. His way.

Definitely a highlight of my day.

In more news, Bernard is going to start school, when I don’t know. I’m happy for him. School seems more dependable than relying on a tutor. I think he’ll enjoy it. He told the nun today, though, that he wanted me to come with him to his school. He’s so sweet. I hope he doesn’t forget me. But at the same time I hope he will have someone else in his life that gives him attention and he can love.

A sister told me that Bernard was found lying in the street several years ago like many of the boys they bring here. I’m really happy that he is here where he can get love, attention, and physical and mental training because he deserves it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random memory

family I had a really wonderful childhood, for the most part, in large part because my brothers and I got on so well. But we had our share of arguments, fights, and tiffs. Especially when it came to really important issues, like who had taped the cups together in the kitchen. We just didn’t trust each other. The binding words had to be said… “I promise.” It began to happen that we promised left and right.

“Kai, did you forget to turn off the computer?”

“No, I didn’t!”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes! I promise.”

“Regan, did you just hit Jack? He’s crying.”


“Do you promise?”

“Yes, I promise.”

Finally, it got out of hand. That’s when my parents outlawed promising. It became a banned word in the household.

That’s when we turned to guaranteeing.

“Kalli, do you guarantee that you didn’t erase my game on Wizardry?”

“No I didn’t do it.”

“But do you guarantee it??”

But as the word guarantee began to lose its power due to too frequent use, we began double guaranteeing and triple guaranteeing. Really I grew up in an environment of deep mistrust. I’m not sure how I’ve ever been able to learn to communicate with others after that.

But there was one handy trick that came out of all of this that Kai taught me. One time I demanded on his word that he hadn’t participated in something. “Do you promise????” I said.

Kai, who had been in tears from the fight, said…

“I promi.”

Thinking that he had left off the “se” because of his emotional distress, I let him go, only to learn later that he had escaped punishment by not completely saying the word.

Let that be a lesson to all of us. If someone asks us to promise something, there is a way to avoid it. And that is to say,

“I promi.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The boys

Here is a little more about each of the boys I am working with here at Daya Dan. These are the boys who can interact a bit more than the others; so I have developed more of a relationship with them.P1030508


Justice is a really funny boy. He looks African. He’s about 15 years old, skinny and tall. Because this is a Catholic institution, we all pray together at the beginning, saying at the end, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” I believe this is why, randomly throughout the day he will shout, “In the name of the Father!” with a cadence that emphasizes “name” and “Fa". He has a really loud voice. He is always moving his hands like he is casting a magic spell. He likes to sing, and has a nice deep voice, but he’ll flip up two octaves and sing like a girl/Micheal Jackson in the middle of a song and sing the rest of the song up high. He helps to do the laundry in the mornings. He is aware enough to help with tasks, but he does so rigidly and scolds us when we don’t do it just right. He’s got a way of grinning and looking very mischievous. When Jacob came for our field trip yesterday, he really got a kick out of Justice. He’ll flip his hand out at you and shout something after sitting silently for a while. I had just finished saying, “The program was very nice. I loved the dancing” when Justice flipped his hand at me and bellowed, “You! No dancing!” He also would order the mild sister with glasses, “Sister! You must be quiet!” These are things he is probably often told.


Rahul, 13, is the most intelligent of the boys at the school. We actually had a long conversation about Israel. I was sewing together some rips on some cushions and he sat next to me and asked many questions. He has a very large limp and unfortunately is not in school at the moment. He knows enough that he can be a bit bossy at times. I would love it if he could have some more personal attention because I think he could be taught a lot more of basic skills, but there isn’t enough tutors to go around, I suppose. He likes to tease the other boys sometimes and he can be depended on to help with various tasks around the orphanage.


Rakesh,10, is a very outgoing little boy. Because his legs are useless, he has developed very good upper body strength to pull himself around. He has a very sweet smile. He is very ADD. If you read him a book, he will ask “What’s this? What’s this?” And really you have no time to answer any of his questions and he’ll forget he asked them. He LOVES watches. From the day I met him he has been obsessed with my watch. He created a watch for himself one day out of string. I would love to buy him a watch, but I know that with these boys, if one boy gets something every boy must have one or it will create resentment. Really all the boys here at Daya Dan love my watch and its light. Hehe. He and the boy I tutor, Bernard, are good friends. When I see Rakesh, he always greets me by saying, “Where’s Bernard?”


I got a taste of my own medicine for laughing at Andrea’s post about dealing with a baby that bites. This little boy would dig his little fingernails into my skin so hard. Scolding him wasn’t enough, so I gave him a good pinch a couple of times! He hasn’t done it since! I have a soft spot in my heart for this little boy. He can’t say a word, but he has ways of communicating. Sometimes, for example, my back will be turned and I’ll feel a WHACK! It’s Manuel greeting me with a smack. Then he slams into me and gives me a hug. And he likes to express affection by putting the side of his head to the side of your head. He’s a tiny little thing with big eyes, and he will scream at the top of his lungs out of nowhere and then will return to his usual mouth-twisted soft “ba ba.”


Mogul has the most beautiful big brown eyes with looooong eyelashes. I have no idea how old he is. He walks with a limp, and has a very large lower lip and a string of drool is permanently escaping from it. He has a bib that he wears always for this purpose. The first couple days I came, I allowed myself to be pulled from place to place by him, until I learned that it is always his habit to grab your hand in a vise-like grip and you have to keep your hands away from him. I feel like he recognizes me, because he’ll get a huge smile on his face, and he likes to sit in people’s laps. Mogul has a special talent. And that is the ability to find any small scrap of paper on the floor and bring it to me. It is his life’s work. He LOVES paper.


Dilip is slowly becoming more socially aware, I think. I learned he was formerly at another charity home which is for older individuals, and he was unhappy there and so he was transferred here. He just got a surgery on his tongue so he can now learn to speak. He looks like he’s 9 or 10 years old. He seemed oblivious, but one day he got kind of affectionate and followed me around and tried to get me to stay. He is a sweet boy. One day he grabbed my earring out of my ear, but not maliciously. I think he just was interested by it.


A smart little boy with glasses who is slowly going blind, I haven’t had as much experience working with him, but I learned about him by reading this blog:

A lady tutored at Daya Dan and ended up adopting one of the boys. It’s a very moving blog and a good description of Kolkata if you get a chance you should read it all in Google Reader.


Ankur, Ankur, Ankur. Really I’d expect more boys to have behavioral issues than there are here. Ankur appears to be autistic and throws fits and is physically violent. There doesn’t seem to be a decided way that that the nuns discipline him. They seem kind of helpless in his rages actually. He’s a very handsome little boy but I tend to get frustrated with the situation because I’ve seen him push Bernard’s chair into the wall and he’ll also hit Bernard, who is helpless. He will run by us during our lesson and grab our books/pens. If I put him in the corner, he will kick and scratch and run away. When we do Play-Doh as a group, invariably Ankur will eat it.


Joy also likes to eat the clay. He is a little Mongolian-looking boy, short and stubby and so cute. He is almost entirely in his own world so it’s hard to get him to participate in group things. He loves bottled water and always tries to grab mine when I arrive from the street. He LOVES climbing. He climbs walls, stairs, tables, doorways, anything to get him higher. Every time I see him I get a little twinge of affection. I just think he is so cute. Even though he is 10 I think he looks like he is 5.


Rama is the most normal-seeming of all the boys here. He doesn’t speak much, but he physically seems to have no problems, he is very polite, and I taught him how to play duck duck goose which he picked up very well. He loves it and always comments on when I wear Indian-style clothes. He is a sweet, small, and handsome little boy. He is another boy that I feel like if he could only get more one on one attention he would just blossom. He has a tutor I think, but the tutor only comes for a few hours a day. Children need so much attention.


I have always been impressed by Sumit’s devotion to the babies of the school. Sumit looks like he could be about 14. He looks retarded and can’t speak. But he spends his entire life attending to the needs of others. He picks up the babies so affectionately. He is always smiling. He wheels boys around. He helps boys dress. He helped me do Bernard’s physical therapy. Since he doesn’t go to school, his entire existence is based around the needs of others which is very sweet. But there is something else that I just learned about Sumit. And that is that he is a tease. We were sitting watching the program yesterday when he scratched the bottom of my feet. My feet are verrry ticklish. I thought it was accident and reacted by yelping and reacting. Then he did it 3 more times. By the end he was laughing hysterically. I couldn’t get him to stop.


Bernard’s original name was Bristi but the sisters decided to change it because it was easier for them to pronouce Bernard. I think Bernard prefers Bristi because that’s what he writes in his lessons. He could get his own post, so I’ll save that for later.

Autorickshaws on the way to Daya Dan


And…since this was a public event maybe it’s okay to post this picture…


Friday, April 23, 2010

Daya Dan

imageI can’t post pictures of my volunteer work at Daya Dan, the home for disabled children, because the sisters  request that specifically. Not only that, but we aren’t allowed to bring cameras in because it would distract from our true purpose of being there, except on your last day.


I admit that when I first started here I wasn’t sure if I’d like it after my first day.

In fact I’m ashamed to say that I was a little repelled by the situation at first.

The place is in a little alleyway and it’s rundown and mismatched. There isn’t anything new about the place. There aren’t any washing machines. There are no televisions or anything technology-oriented. There are huge murals of Mother Teresa playing with children on the wall. It’s not bright and shiny and clean feeling like I’m used to American preschools feeling.


And these aren’t your typical children. They have issues, all of them. Some emotional, some physical, almost all mental. When you first arrive to volunteer, you have to be a little astonished to see so many wasted children just lying haphazardly all over the uncarpeted floor.

Most of them can’t speak or communicate hardly at all.

Many of them don’t respond when you play with them.

They have all stolen my heart.

In fact my heart is broken knowing that I probably won’t see any of them again once we leave Kolkata. It breaks even more to know that these boys will be institutionalized their whole lives, moving from one group home to the next, until they die.

Especially the little boy I tutor, who lights up so much when he sees me and repeats my name over and over. In fact apparently the only name he ever says to anyone is mine. He is so snuggly, so happy, and so enamored with me. He admires my clothes. He plays with my watch. He laughs when he drops his pencil because he thinks it’s funny. I love him. I don’t know how I’ll say goodbye to him when it’s time for us to leave. I think constantly about who will be his teacher once I leave, and if he’ll get to read as much as he’d like.

I would adopt him. But I know that isn’t possible for our situation right now.

I never expected when I started volunteering here that these boys would teach me so much, that they would be the ones to change me, to help me. I didn’t think such small and weak things of the world could represent such an angelic part of humanity. They each have their own unique and hilarious personalities that have slowly revealed themselves to me over time. I am humbled.

I used to have an inner fear that I would have a child with disabilities and that I would love them a little less because of it. I now know, fortunately, that while having a child with disabilities is definitely WORK, I could love them just as much as a normal child. And that is really a lovely discovery to make.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich. ~Sir Peter Ustinov

India is a spiritual destination. It forces one to reflect. It has awakened my latent activism. The worst and the best, the poorest and the richest, the ugliest and the most beautiful sides of humanity co-exist together here. If you can’t tell already, I can’t help but wax philosophical and maybe share something I’m learning along the way. These posts may be idealistic, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.
I’m such a hippie.
Well, not the drug-using hallucinating part. But the anti-war part. When the Iraq war was announced, in all its patriotic fervor, I shared with my family and friends that we were making a mistake. I was hardly prophetic. War has been denounced throughout time as being one of the least effective ways to solve the world’s problems. I wish that I had been more outspoken, just for the sake of my conscience now.
  I guess every generation is doomed to fight its war...suffer the loss of the same old illusions, imageand learn the same old lessons on its own. ~Phillip Caputo
I am publishing this in the hope that I can communicate that we must learn to communicate with our so called radical Muslim brothers and sisters: using force with them will not convince them to stop using force with us.
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it….
To some degree it matters who's in office, but it matters more how much pressure they're under from the public.
~Noam Chomsky

If these quotes inspire you at all, think about getting involved. I found this excellent organization online: It has ways to protest and to encourage our leaders to bring our troops home.
I share this because…
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~Margaret Mead
One reason the United States finds itself at the edge of a foreign policy disaster is its underinformed citizenry, a key weakness in democracy.
~Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke
About the quote: from "America Alone"
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice
So many of these quotes were said/written decades and centuries ago, and yet history continues to repeat itself.
I really hope some of these quotes ring true to you. I think every single one of these is incredibly insightful, except for the ones made by George W. Those were added for comic effect.
‘All wars are sacred,' he said. 'To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn't imagemake them sacred, who would be foolish enough to fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles. But so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of bugles and drums and fine words from stay-at-home orators. Sometimes the rallying cry is 'Save the Tomb of Christ from the Heathen!' Sometimes it's 'Down with Popery!' and sometimes 'Liberty!' and sometimes 'Cotton, Slavery and States' Rights!'
~Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind
image Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars and when the wars are over, no one ever knew what they were about.
~Ashley Wilkes, Gone With the Wind
Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessaryimage to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
~Abraham Lincoln
image One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
~Agatha Christie

image When a war breaks out, people say: "It's too stupid, it can't last long." But though a war may be "too stupid," that doesn't prevent its lasting.
~Albert Camus

image Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
~Albert Einstein

image What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.
~Aldous Huxley

image We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.
~Benjamin Harrison, US President
About the quote: from an 1888 address to Congress

image The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.
~Brendan Behan, author

image War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.
~Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court Justice

image The truth is that neither British nor American imperialism was or is idealistic. It has always been driven by economic or strategic interests.
~Charley Reese
image Imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts the right to seize the land or at least to control the government or resources of another people.
~John T. Flynn, journalist

War, n: A time-tested political tactic guaranteed to raise a president’s popularity rating by at least 30 points. It is especially useful during election years and economic downturns.
~Chaz Bufe

War in the end is always about betrayal, betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians, and of idealists by cynics.
~Chris Hedges

After vimageictory, you have more enemies.

image All forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups and persons.
~Dalai Lama

You cannot win a War on Terrorism. It’s like having a war on jealousy.
~David Cross
About the quote: Cross is a comedian, most well known for his roles on the television series "Arrested Development" and "Mr. Show." This quote is from his 2002 comedy album.

War creates peace like hate creates love.
~David L. Wilson

image We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

imageI hate war  as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower
About the quote: from 1953
Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

(I think he must be my new favorite president)

Compare him with George W.:
imageIf we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road.
~George W. Bush
I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: From a speech at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in Wash. DC, 6/18/02.
Our nation is somewhat sad, but we’re angry. There’s a certain level of blood lust, but we won’t let it drive our reaction. We’re steady, clear-eyed and patient, but pretty soon we’ll have to start displaying scalps.
~George W. Bush
Wow. I think that quote just changed my life.
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
~George W. Bush
Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously--and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: from the President's Veteran's Day Speech (11/11/05).
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful...They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: From remarks by the president at the signing of The Defense Appropriations Act for 2005  (At least he is honest here)
We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: from a UN Speech in Sept 2004
I think war is a dangerous place.
~George W. Bush
These people are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi citizens, and they want us to leave...I think the world would be better off if we did leave...
~George W. Bush (on Iraqi Insurgency)
Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction.
~George W. Bush
About the quote: from a speech on 10/3/03 (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL how hypocritical can you get)
Oh my gosh. Did we really have this man leading our country for 8 years?
Iimaget's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling.
~Lt. Gen. James Mattis, USMC
About the quote: Comments from 2/1/05 conference in San Diego, California. Lt. Mattis commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.
~Ellen Key

image They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.
~Ernest Hemingway
About the quote: from "Notes on the Next War," published in Esquire Magazine, 1935.
If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in the army.
~Frederick the Great

With no notice to the American people...this country entered the war...Stranger than the fact was the passive acceptance of it.
~Garet Garrett

image Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.
~General Douglas MacArthur
I believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between nations.
~General Douglas MacArthur
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency.
~General Douglas MacArthur
Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear.
~General Douglas MacArthur
 About the quote: MacArthur was an American army general who lived 1880-1964.

image My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.
~George Washington
Iimage believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.
~H. L. Mencken

image How can you make a war on terror if war itself is terrorism?
~Howard Zinn

It's more humane to cure your enemies than to kill them.
~Hugh Mann

image Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said: ‘War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.'
~Immanuel Kant
Iimagef Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
~James Madison
About the quote: This quote is from the period he served as a US Congressman (he represented Virginia from 1789-1797).

Even the most piddling life is of momentous consequence to its owner.
~James Wolcott
About the quote: in his article “From Fear to Eternity” in Vanity Fair, March 2005

I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.
~Jim Garrison
Scary to ask ourselves…has this already happened?
Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.
~John Andrew Holmes
image War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
~John F. Kennedy

If everyone dimageemanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
~John Lennon
image I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private individuals.
~Joseph Heller
(author of Catch-22)
image We have to show the American People that war is not patriotic.
~Justin Raimondo
The war on terrorism is akin to the war on drugs…unwinable, unless you kill everyone…or address the root causes.
~K. W. Ibrahim
The greatest protection against war is a well educated populace.
~L.L. Castetter
Wars are inevitable... as long as we believe that wars are inevitable. The moment we don't believe it anymore it is not inevitable.
~Lydia Sicher
It takes more courage to get out of a war than it does to get into one.
~Mark Couturier
image Why, the Government is merely...a temporary servant...Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.
~Mark Twain
image Is it not a strange blindness on our part to teach publicly the techniques of warfare and to reward with medals those who prove to be the most adroit killers?
~Marquis de Sade

image There are many terrorist states in the world, but the United States is unusual in that it is officially committed to international terrorism.
~Noam Chomsky
About the quote: from his book "Necessary Illusions" (p. 270)

If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war.
~Pentagon Official (unnamed )
About the quote: This quote was from a Pentagon Official explaining why the U.S. military censored graphic footage from the Gulf War.
Power is usurped from the people, first by implementing fear, then it is maintained by slandering as 'unpatriotic' those who refuse submission.
~Ramman Kenoun
The occupation and robbery of a nation occurs under the illusion of freeing its citizens from brutal oppression.
~Ramman Kenoun
image When American presidents prepare for foreign wars, they lie.
~Robert Higgs
image There were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in. It was we who gave the perfect conditions in which Al Qaeda could thrive.
~Robin Cook
About the quote: Cook is Britain's former foreign secretary. He resigned from the British Cabinet over the Iraq War.
image Terror is a tactic. We can not wage "war" against a tactic.
~Ron Paul
War--after all, what is it that the people get? Why--widows, taxes, wooden legs and debt.
~Samuel B. Pettengill

image I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.
~Thomas Jefferson

If you kill one person you are a murderer. If you kill ten people you are a monster. If you kill ten thousand you are a national hero.
~Vassilis Epaminondou

If [America] becomes militant, it will be because its people choose to become such; it will be because they think that war and warlikeness are desirable.
~William Graham Sumner
About the quote: from 1903

image The greatest crime since World War II has been US foreign policy.
~William Ramsey Clark
About the quote: William Ramsey Clark was US Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson

And finally…I don’t normally like to combine the gospel and politics. But this isn’t something you hear preached over the pulpit much, yet I believe it is fundamental to what our religion stands for. So I close with this quote from a General Conference in 1942:
image The Lord is a Lord of peace. He has said to us in this dispensation:
“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace . . . ” (D&C 98:16) Thus the Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.
A message from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay), delivered in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, April 6, 1942, during the closing session of the 112th Annual General Conference of the Church.
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