Mark Twain's "The War Prayer"

Mothers, fathers, spouses, children, family, friends, loved ones pray for a son or daughter going off to war, they wave USA flags, hold parades when they go and when they come home, dead or alive. What good is all that activity? 

It seems to me that a far better act would be to protest wars to your president, senators and representatives, join with others in ending the war and destruction. Learn the history of the conflict and hold those who make decisions to go to war to a higher standard than the stated "to bring democracy to an embattled people".

More often our prayers result in maiming and death of innocent people, "collateral damage", some would state. Ineffective and inefficient prayers only add to the destruction of ways of lives, of water, air, soils, and infrastructures. Prayers maintain and perpetuate the status quo. 

It is because individuals have a constructed god that favors one's point of view, usually a nationalistic perception. One tiny piece of land with the petty name of Gaza is being fought over now because people who are genetically closely related have different versions of god and each pray fervently to their different gods.

If there were a god, the prayer would be to have everyone flourish, crops would grow, food would be available for all, education would flourish as would health care. Water would be available to everyone, and there would be work for all.

Don't expect me to respect a person who has a god to whom he or she prays and then allows corruption, exploitation and manipulation.

Joan Denoo, July 14, 2014


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I disagree Michael......Yes  the USA  was Israel's only friend in the entire world  and yes the US  gave  them  money  and weapons ...BUT I would  like to add  that  the Israelis never wanted  or invited  the US military  to fight  their  wars  for them... No US soldier  from any branch  has  been killed  or injured  as a result.....I may also  add that Israel  improved  on the weapons  and made them even better....also  don't forget  the Arabs  were given money and weapons  by Russia for many  years, with  poor  results........

No US soldier  from any branch  has  been killed  or injured  as a result. Really!!!???
USS Liberty

I agree with you, Freethinker31, about the impressive accomplishments of agriculture in a desolate land, where their neighbors were not able or willing to do the work necessary to make such remarkable achievements. 

I also recognize that Jerusalem has always been kept open to the three religions for pilgrimages on holy days. Your point is very well taken. 

At the same time I say that, I wonder how all these accomplishments could have been made without the assistance of USA and Allied countries?

I have lightly followed the Israel story from 1948 and the agreements that were set up then. I was a 12 year old girl with romantic notions of heroism and valor, especially as I saw the newsreels at the movie theater. We didn't have TV at that time. I loved gardening, even then, and wondered at the methods they used to get water to the vegetable and fruit gardens, and the fine orchards they created. I didn't pay attention to what the Palestinians were doing at the same time. 

With current events between Israeli and Palestinians, I am compelled to re-look at the means the Israelis use against the Palestinians to achieve their ends. I don't like what I am reading currently, and do not see the rationale of Obama and his position. 

Very well said, Joan.

Joan, thank you so much for the link to Mark Twain's "War Prayer".  I like the protest statement very much.

Mark Twain wrote the prayer in protest of the Philipine-American war.  A war that, I imagine, 99% of Americans have never heard of.  Even among the fair number of Filipino people I know, they are a bit shocked to learn of it.  The war was its era version of the Vietnam war, and the Iraq war also has many parallels. 

I was interested in the war because my grandfather was in it, and he told stories about his experience.  Since he was older when my dad was born, and my dad was older when I was born, my generational experience expands back to what many consider "prehistory".

My grandfather referred to the war in the term of his day "The Insurrections". The war was a "traditional" American war of aggression against another nation, with uncertain benefits and the usual jingoism and opportunism. From the book, "Honor in the Dust", "

What was intended, in McKinley’s mind at least, as an effort to help the Filipinos, ended up igniting a deep hatred of Americans. In the spring of 1902, Senator George Frisbie Hoar, who had argued against the war from the beginning, delivered an excoriating three-hour speech on the Senate floor that left the nation stunned and Roosevelt fuming. “You have wasted 600 millions of treasure. You have sacrificed nearly 10,000 American lives — the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit,” he said. “Your practical statesmanship has succeeded in converting a people who three years ago were ready to kiss the hem of the garment of the American and to welcome him as liberator . . . into sullen and irreconcilable enemies, possessed of a hatred which centuries cannot eradicate.”

In the end, the numbers of Filipinos left dead are estimated between 200,000 and 1million.  The war is most often described as a cleanup after the Spanish American war, but is not that clean - the Philippines were an independent nation at the time the US invaded.   As in wars throughout history, there was no lack of atrocity and betrayal, opportunism and racism. 

I have a small pile of faded photos and postcards from my grandfather's attic. These are a few of them. It is in the interest of government and industry for us to forget history, so we really don't know it repeats, repeatedly. Truly nothing new under the sun.


I think history is considered an avocation of the old, looking back instead of forward.  In reality, history is a prediction of what is to come.

Fortunately, there are those, like Mark Twain, who are also part of history, and speak out against atrocity.

Powerful story! I like your statement, Daniel, "In reality, history is a prediction of what is to come."

"In the end, 'Honor in the Dust' is less about the freedom of the Philippines than the soul of the United States. This is the story of what happened when a powerful young country and its zealous young president were forced to face the high cost of their ambitions. There finally came a point when even Theodore Roosevelt realized that 'America’s dream of empire had passed'.”

~ Candice Millard in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

I wonder if it is possible for we elders to look forward and imagine a preferred future, one in which the goal is not expansion or domination or exploitation, but a world of opportunity for each one to become all that his or her potential has to offer. A country with the best education, health care, craftsmanship, science, and human development. A world without hunger and disease. 

Dream on, Joan! Just more pipedreams! 

Daniel, I just noticed an arrow in the last photo. Is that your grandfather? 

It is your right to disagree, Freethinker31. If you do disagree there's nothing I can do whatsoever to make you agree with me. We are each just voicing our opinions here. Sometimes a person can see the view of another. Other times to do that and see the view you would have to be brought up from a very ealy age exactly as your counter view person was. Perhaps I could see your way better if I was exposed to everything in my lifetime that you were exposed to.

Things like the above mold who you are as a person. Things like the above once you add the timeframe and era, also mold your limited free will. Why is it "limited?" It has to remain within the bounds of timeframe and era. Obviously every person is not exposed to the same things and ideas.

I guess you are right Michael

I like the exchange of differences of opinions! It says something about the high caliber of thought and depth of understanding. I only wish there were not so much reading to get caught up on the history of the different factions. I suppose there is truth on both sides. What is it about USA that puts its guns into foreign wars, and bullets into innocent victims? We should have grown up enough to give up on expansionism. We are too big to govern as it is, and money governs instead of people. 



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