Monday, December 29, 2008

The Winchester Ghosts

I used to travel to San Jose on a regular basis. On a couple of occasions I took some leisure time to sight see, stopping by the Winchester Mystery House. This house was the home of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester. After his death and that of her daughter, Sarah moved West and began construction on this grand ol' Victorian home. Construction continued non-stop until her death 38 years later. What's peculiar about this house is that there are stair cases that go nowhere, doors on high floors that open to the outside (and no stairs to the ground), there are false cupboard doors, the number of stairs are mind numbing and that's just a few of the oddities. Why did Sarah continue to build in such a strange and seemingly haphazard way? She believed herself to be haunted by the thousands who had perished by the guns created and manufactured by the Winchester family. She was convinced that this was why her husband had died young and her daughter. She felt that the crazy array of rooms, stairs and doorways would keep the spirits occupied so they would leave her in peace.

Sarah has been on my mind today as I also feel haunted by the innocent souls liberated early from this life by bombs stamped with "Made in the USA". I think continually of the fields littered with the remains of our cluster bombs, water contaminated from our depleted uranium, not to mention the children born with dibilating deformities and cancers from the toxic waste we've left them. My Christmas season ended as US made bombs killed nearly 300 already demoralized citizens of Gaza. This added to the Iraqi and Afghani death tolls. Yes, America the beautiful is responsible, just as the Winchesters were, for countless deaths and endless suffering. Unfortunately there could be no house big enough or convoluted enough to satisfy all the wandering souls killed by US weapons of mass destruction. From our Atomic bombs in Japan to our bunker busters, my mind swoons at the astounding numbers of innocent victims. Over 90% of casualties of conflict today are civilians, not combatants, but even a combatant is a human being, just one that is willing to risk their own life for what they believe in.

My wish is that America, if we trully desire to be a nation under God, quit providing the means for sending so many His way. Let's stop being the arms dealer to the world. Let's instead build schools, hospitals, and utility centers. Let's drop food and medical supplies from our F16s. We have the potential to do so much good in the world - if only we could wake up from this horrible nightmare of empire. Maybe we are all haunted by the spirits and that's why we're afraid to wake up, stop shopping, watching football or whatever you do to stay disengaged from the world and start working for change. It's civilians that are dying, and guess what, you're one too. If we don't stand up for them now, who will stand up for us when our time comes. Tomorrow there are emergency protests all across America - be there. Let your voice be heard.

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