Monday, August 10, 2009

Universal Soldier

A friend recently reminded me of these lyrics from the song, "Universal Soldier," written by Canadian singer/songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie and famously covered by British singer, Donovan, in 1965. More than forty years later, the lyrics continue to speak to today's dilemmas.
The last stanza is controversial. Rather than placing the blame for war solely on soldiers who fight them, I see the lyrics as asking all of us, including soldiers, would-be soldiers, non-soldiers and those who pay for war, to examine our roles in war-making and peace-making. I'll dedicate this post to GI resister, Victor Agosto, who took a firm stand for peace and personal responsibility when he was court-martialed last week for refusing to prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.

Universal Soldier
by Buffy Sainte-Marie
He's five feet two and he's six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He's all of 31 and he's only 17
He's been a soldier for a thousand years

He's a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn't kill
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he's fighting for Canada,
he's fighting for France,
he's fighting for the USA,
and he's fighting for the Russians
and he's fighting for Japan,
and he thinks we'll put an end to war this way

And he's fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it's for the peace of all
He's the one who must decide
who's to live and who's to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler have
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He's the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can't go on

He's the universal soldier and he
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can't you see
this is not the way we put an end to war.

No comments: