The following is in response to Dr. Lori E. Amy’s book “The Wars We Inherit: Military Life, Gender Violence, And Memory” continuing from a pervious post “The Wars We Inherit (Part 2).”
In a chapter titled “Toward Re-membering A Future,” Dr. Amy continues to unearth things that we need to bear witness to in order to mourn and heal from the violences that war creates. As of 2009, the US accounts for half of the entire world’s trade in arms and expenditures—a one trillion dollar enterprise (156, Shah). But how much is spent on education? In a recent study that juxtaposes the money spent on education to the money that is spent on prisons in the state of Pennsylvania, it was discovered that the money spent on education has dropped by one billion dollars while the money spent on prisons was raised by over eight hundred million (from various sources for an info-graphic designed my Jason Killinger and published by Maskar Design, 2012). Dr. Amy also points out that during war woman of all ages become capital—“The arrival of soldiers is often associated with a sudden rise in child prostitution and sex tourism, and as expansion of sex trafficking in the region” (156, Global Fund for Women). In January of 2002, Dr. Amy had to excuse herself to the bathroom to hide her tears from her students as she mourned for the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay (119). To mourn “is to bear witness to the criminality to social order” (160). By bearing witness to the violence that we are creating with drone attacks, with targeted killings, with the war on terrorism, the US can learn that we are, by nature “neither good nor evil, or else [we] are both at once; selfishness and altruism are equally innate” (188, Tzvetan Todorov).
Dr. Amy says that her students helped her see “the direction for a future” (118). Having been a student of hers, I hope that I too have helped her, that is if she is still in need of a direction—and in some ways we all are, albeit unconsciously. The note that Amy’s well-cited, insightful book ends on is inspirational, built out of love and with a sentiment that I advocate us all to try and understand: “I find violence the worst threat of all. I am praying that we can remember a future—re-member as a creative act, as a way of imagining what, as human beings, we can be” (189).