“The world is becoming an immense military base, and that base is becoming a mental hospital the size of the world. Inside the nuthouse, which ones are crazy? The soldiers killing themselves or the wars that oblige them to kill?”
— Eduardo Galeano, “Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History”
In doing this work, I wanted to focus attention on the fact that soldiers sent to battle are also victims of the condition of our world, a world of perpetual war. Most of those who enlist come from the poorest classes of society, seeing it as way out of poverty or feel that there are no other choices for them. Some soldiers may have enlisted out of feelings of patriotism. Yet, once on the field, they are faced with and participate in war crimes and crimes against humanity. They may sustain horrific wounds, they may have witnessed scenes from hell. They all come home broken in spirit, if not in body. Both the Canadian and US governments offer them penny-pinched support and criminal neglect.
On June 10, 2013, 30-year-old Iraq War veteran Daniel Somers killed himself after writing a powerful letter to his family explaining his reasons for doing so. In part he said, “How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.”
In the US, 22 veteran’s commit suicide each day.
BIO: Freda Guttman is an artist/activist based in Montreal and has worked as a printmaker and installation artist for 50 years. She has always situated her work within various campaigns and struggles, global and at home, for justice and peace, seeing art as an necessary component of activism. Presently, she is working on a portfolio of prints which revisit an installation she did in the 1980’s about the genocide of the Mayan people of Guatemala, updating what is happening now as Guatemalans struggle against Canadian mining ventures.
Printed by justseeds own Jesse Purcell