In 1968, when the Soviets rolled into Prague, my teacher posed a question: How best to prevent a global conflagration. Like all 13 year-olds, I had the solutions to all the world’s ills. I proposed that every country leader submit to having a poison capsule implanted in their body – a capsule that can be triggered to melt when that leader declared war. With the prospect of being the first casualty, if he still wants war, let him declare it.

My teacher called me ‘stupid’ – he was wrong… ‘naive’ perhaps.

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53 comments

    1. Dear ‘bumbas’

      I have only pity for lousy teachers.

      Old men sending off young men to die is not new – true – but that does not make it right. Men have made a balls of things, perhaps we need to elect women (in particular women with families) into top posts. I don’t think they will do worse…perhaps do much better!

      Peace to all, (especially to old war mongers)
      Eric

  1. Whoever called you stupid was no teacher! Teaching may have been a job they happened to have, BUT they were not a teacher at all. That really infuriates me that someone would say that to a student! Obviously they were wrong and then some!!!!!! Nice poetry Eric! Looks like you are the one doing a good job of teaching now!

    1. Thank you Terri.
      Now, many parents are outraged when teachers put down children rather than encourage them…even when they do wrong.
      But in the 1960s Naval Base School of Singapore, teachers routinely berated students and worse – regularly slapped children. As you read the flash fictions on Mechanic Leigh, more shall be released. Incidentally, all the Mechanic Leigh stories are based on true events.
      Peace, Eric

  2. Hi Eric!
    Thanks for the ‘like’ on my page, and I love your story, idea and poem. 🙂 You definitely deserve all the awards you’ve been receiving!
    As a girl, I was hit emotionally by the (First) Gulf War, and at that point determined that the leaders of any country that want to battle should sit down for a one-on-one game of Battleship or Chess.
    I like to hope that the “Change of Consciousness” predicted for 2012 will lean more toward this pacifist ideology. Naive? I prefer to look at it as “forward-thinking.”
    My best to you and yours,
    MP/C

    1. That is sad to know, my dear.
      I can only hope that though scars remain, the pain is blunted somewhat. If you are ‘naive’ so am I and millions of peace loving people all over the world in every country. We will prevail, we must…it is imperative…inevitable.
      Thank you for your compliments on my writings and feel free to drop in anytime as I will at your site.
      All good wishes,
      Eric

    1. Dear Winona,
      Thank you for visiting and appreciate your thumbs up.

      I believe similar words were spoken in the movie “Troy”

      All good wishes, Eric

    1. Thank you Dennis, for reading and complimenting.

      This myth is propagated by the military-industrial establishment and there are many economists ready to parrot it. It is easy to be brave when one’s closest encounter to war would be the nine o’clock news.

      “Start a war, the world needs one enow
      (Wink!) Profit in it too, you know
      Feeding the poor can be profitable
      But the returns poor, unpredictable”

      Just dished this up…

      All good wishes, Eric

  3. Eric, had I been in your class, I would have had your back. I thought it was extremely clever!

    With the prospect of being the first casualty, if he still wants war, let him declare it.

    …stupid?… I THINK NOT. You were clearly the intelligent one. 🙂

    And only 13 at that! What 13 year old thinks this deep?! Do you have little geniuses running around? (I bet they are little Erics?)

    1. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      You are so sweet and kind.

      Don’t get me wrong but I reckon my 3 children (now all young adults) are a lot more mature and intelligent.

      Luv, Eric

  4. Good poem and great idea with those poison pills! Your poem has great emotions and feelings. War never solves anything, that is for sure, except so many innocent persons hurt and their survivors. Take care. Sincerely, Connie Webb

    1. I have heard this one, but cannot remember where. In school, I created many essays on different Generals and their men. I was fascinated and could not get enough of it.

      In the past, I could tell you all about them, their accomplishments and their failures. Now they are starting to blend together. 🙁 Reading your posts and comments pushes my want to remember. I love the topics you choose. Always very interesting, especially the gems in the comments. 🙂 Thank you.

    2. Dear Christine,

      “I created many essays on different Generals and their men” – Wow!

      Would be nice if you could unearth and post these. As a kid, I devoured any book I can get my hands on about military exploits – knew most of the names of generals in many of the theatres of war.

      When people give me their time by reading/commenting – I need to return with appropriate responses, I reckon.

      Have a great weekend,
      Eric 🙂

    3. if I can find them, I will definitely post them. I have no idea why, but I usually kept things like this. I also did one on Cyber War when the internet first became popular. I ran across this one a few years back. Maybe I can find them soon.

    1. Thank you Connie – I am terribly sorry and can only wonder how I missed this one. But when I checked, I had responded to your blog but not here. Apologies again.

  5. I think a child can see better what adults refuse to see or acknowledge (the emperor’s new clothes’ story). That capsule was a brilliant idea. The teacher knew it but had to trash it. Even Christ said that if we could only see with a childlike vision… Such strong poem should also be engraved on the leaders. This welcoming truth should be driven home more often.

    1. I believe that sometimes God speaks through children…how else does one explain the universal pain felt, whenever we see a child suffer/abused…

  6. Eric, I agree completely that you were not stupid, just possibly naive, but very righteously holding hope in your heart for the improvement of mankind and their leaders. We no longer have King Davids riding out in front of their soldiers into battle!

    1. As a 13 year old then, another lesson for me was – less trust in teachers when they ‘welcome differing opinions and creativity’. I was naive alright.

  7. Looking at your work…reading your words…i see real talent. I am so humbled to have thoughts i’ve written out there…you took time to read and clicked “like”…thank you! Go’n through change with me here, i let life become unclear, so i’m throwing out the fear, keeping me near,…this may sound odd, but somewhere in here is a god, i know by your nod.
    peace be
    Day 18

    1. There is much you do not wish to hear > “every things go’n to be ok” or “every thing happens for a reason”

      Perhaps I can relate my experience, if it will help remove from your back one more straw:

      “As I walk through the brush
      I pick up thorns and wild flower scent
      Pulling out thorns, smelling sweet I stand
      I have walked through the brush”

      I just made this up for you, from my heart,
      Eric

  8. This reminds me of Wilfred Owen and “The parable of the old man and the young” where the leaders probably had and still have a lot to answer for knowing full well the outcome of what was going to happen.

    1. Hello Steve,
      I am not surprised that you, a former naval warrior, say this. Most true guardians of peace abhor war.
      Yes, if my memory serves me right, ’68 was a good year 🙂
      Eric

  9. Man is the most terrifying predator on this planet, more than enough examples of that. At the same time a considerable number of people living on this planet, I’m sorry to say, are just plain stupid and are so easy to manipulate.
    Just read how Hitler rose to power. Not one thing he intended to do was a secret, everybody could read it in his book “Mein Kampf” and yet, he became not only the German Chancellor, manipulating the situation I agree, but the masses became hysterical when he held his speeches (It was not until the first big rock concerts, decades later, to gather that many people again). Or look at the same German masses shouting they wanted “total war”.
    As long as that exists we need not think of a war not being fought and with technology advancing, making the distance between the killer and the killed bigger and bigger, it will become even more easy to dehumanise the killing thus making the opposition lessen even more.
    But I agree, your idea wasn’t bad though very naïve indeed and if ever they want to vote to impose it you certainly have mine.
    Love Steph xx

  10. Have you read the novel All Quiet on the Western Front? There is a part of the book where one of the young soldiers suggests that to deal with war, all the leaders of the participating countries should enter an arena/amphitheatre and fight it out. It intrigues me how little an ordinary civilians and even soldiers voices matters when it comes to war. How so many people share the same idea, but war still happens the way your poem explains.Your writing is brilliant 🙂

    1. Dear Zxeesha,
      Not the novel but had seen the movie. I did not enunciate anything unique.
      Thank you for the compliments on my writing 🙂
      Peace, Eric

  11. Excellent. It is especially poignant to me remembering how the Vietnam War unfolded back in the 60’s, and now as the mother of a returning soldier. My son will never be the same, but he came home. Other mothers are weeping tonight.

    1. Dear Jeannie,

      I am so very happy for you to have your son home and safe. I can just imagine the debilitating anxiety while he was away.

      Did you say Vietnam…and to think that many years later Robert McNamara said something about he and his colleagues were “wrong, terribly wrong” in the prosecution of the war in Vietnam.

      The mothers who weep…It must be absolutely devastating.

      We can only pray.

  12. How truly strange this is. I had just been doing a little retrospective back to the 1960’s and finished playing Bob Dylan’s, “Masters of War” when I was notified of this post. Well, they say, “Great minds think alike.”

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