Sunday, April 23, 2006

Why we should all opose Pinon Canyon expansion

I oppose the expansion of Pinon Canyon Army Base, and it's not just because of my pacifist leanings.

Yes, I do disagree with the idea that America, as the lone superpower in the the world is obliged to impose a global Pax Americana. And it is true that I don't think we need to increase spending on our military that is already seven times that of China, the second largest military spender. I don't buy the arguement that building a bigger, more leathal army is the key to eradicating global terrorism, or whipping out radical Islamists and I don't accept in the concepts that America should become the global police force, or that America can create democracies at the barrel of a gun. I have to admit my doubt that premptive, unilateral military agression will result in a safer world.

But if I believed that all of these things were good ideas, there would still powerful reasons, as a Las Animas County resident for me to oppose the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuvers Site.

I understand that "nothing has been decided" about the future expansion of the facility, but it is pretty clear that something is being considered. And the "something" is big. The official, unofficial plan presented by the Army is a quadrupling of the current acreage. The unofficial, but official-looking map that was leaked and circulated at the the Cattlemen's Association meeting, indicates the possibility that the facility may ultimately expanded ten-fold, all the way to the Kansas and New Mexico borders.

Such an exansion would cost Las Animas county a lot. We would loose an endangered species, cattle ranchers. We would lose natural, archeaological and historical resouces as well. We would lose tax base. We would lose tourism dollars.

Would all of these lossed be off-set by gains? Would soldiers living or training at the facility start to spend money in Trinidad? Would they be given over-night passes to come and recreate in town? Would their families relocate to Trinidad? No.

They would convoy to the maneuvers site from Colorado Springs and return there just as soon as they were able. Even if there were a few soldiers permamently assigned to Pinon Canyon, they'd still do most of their shopping at the PX, if they have any sense.

The only benefit would be the short-term opportunities of construction activity as the expanded faciltiy is established, but even that would go mostly to outside contractors who would move into the area temporarily. That's what happened when the place was initially established.



I'm thinking of creating a series of paintings titled IRAQI ICONS. Images of the humans invoved in the war painted as modern icons. These are some of the ideas that I would like to embody in these paintings.

-The images will be types; not specific individuals. Some of the types that I would create include soldiers of different races, ages and genders, including those who have been disfigured and dismembered. Mullahs and Clarics, Iraqi women, children, including those who have been disfigured and dismembered, politicians and business people, terrorists and suicide bombers, child-fighters, journalists.
-Traditional icons are paintings of saints. Since I believe that we are saints, not because of our meritorium deeds or our individual perfection, but because of the grace of God, I consider all who have placed their trust in this grace to be santified by it. Jesus is the embodiment of divine grace. Every graced human is the embodiment of Christ; the sacrificial body, the suffering body, the glorified body. I do not believe that Christ's sacrifice was for those who would adopt a set of Christian doctrines, but rather for all humans.
-All human life is sacred; lives that we understand as well as lives that are mysteries to us. The lives of our loved ones, the lives of our neighbors, the lives of those in far distant cultures, lands and traditions, the lives of our enemies.
-Icons are objects of meditation that bring the one who venerates into intimate contact with the spirit represented by the icon. My icons will be created for the purpose, first of all of my own meditiation. As I create them I will pray to know and understand, to love and bless, to extend forgiveness, healing, appreciation and respect to those represented by the icon. I will also create them to be objects of meditation for others so that viewer may be brought into a deeper awareness of the santitiy of all human life.