Bruce Cockburn, Warrior

I just came across this song by Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn. As a kid, Cockburn’s Christmas music always found its way into holiday playlist. This song is a bit harder, although motivated in the same feelings of love and commitment. The words bring forward the deep truth of retaliation, of the felt need to hit back against unjust force. This seemingly absolute duty can easily overpower other moral sentiments, and is probably the key motivating forces at the psychological root of contemporary “terrorism”. Even Bin Laden said he got the idea for the twin towers attack while watching the towards of Beirut fall while under the Israeli siege in ’82. His logic, if you care to listen to what he had to say, was that Americans would never understand the evil of their terror campaigns and occupation in the middle east so long as they suffered no similar losses at home. This sentiment, the need to “make them feel what we feel” is both normative (concerning what is right) and hermeneutic (concerning interpretation of a situation), both an act of moral duty and of communication – a kind of dialogue with the enemy. Accordingly, today’s western states that are concerned with terrorism have a duty to interpret the terrorism. And in their interpretation, they should see that among other things, terrorism is the morally commendable voice which demands the populations of imperial states to take account of the actions of their governments, to cease their imperialism and funding of brutal regimes for their own economic interests. The warrior’s honour requires us to hear it before it can be dismissed as archaic and relevant only to a past age. So long as the military forces of powerful countries control weaker areas of the world for their geo-strategic interest, retaliation (terrorism) will remain a key element in the moral dialogue about the modern imperial world.


Here comes the helicopter — second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher…I’d make somebody pay

I don’t believe in guarded borders

and I don’t believe in hate
I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors

of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation — or some less humane fate
Cry for guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die


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