Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Counter Recruiting Tour

What if the best way to prevent the next war is part and parcel of the healing of the victims of this one? Apparently an important part of healing from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is to integrate the trauma with a purpose for the life of the survivor. Many former soldiers find healing by dedicating their lives to convincing the next generation of soldiers not to fall into the same traps. Coincidentally, veterans make the best counter-recruiters, because they can speak with authority about the realities of war and the military.

Veterans for Peace (VfP) and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) have discussed sponsoring caravans of veterans to go on counter-recruiting tours, carrying their truth to schools, military communities, and anywhere youth are willing to listen. Another key to healing is to work with other survivors who are finding peace. These peace-making bands of healing warriors can be a powerful positive social force.

According to Belleruth Naparstek (Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal), two important elements of healing from PTSD are regular exercise and meditation, both of which can be accomplished on a bicycle. Lane Anderson, active in VfP, has recommended that counter-recruitment tours be bicycle based, rather than bus. There is a moral consistency to refusing to buy the resource wars are being fought over. Bikes are a must for sustainable oil-free living.

Bicycles are a great outreach tool. While they don't go fast, they can certainly go far, more efficiently than any other mode. You can easily bike to places you'd have difficulty driving to, especially in a bus. Bikes are human-scale travel. It's easier to jump into a conversation from a bike than from a motor vehicle. Kids being targeted by early recruitment propaganda are often on bicycles themselves. Bikes symbolize freedom.

I encourage my readers to lend support to these healing efforts, which may be the most important part of the peace movement. They can always use input from those of us who have studied nonviolence. If you're a vet, please accept this invitation to ride with me. I'll help you to assemble and maintain a good touring bike and support your peace-making on the road.

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