reflections on war from a Cold War teen

Currently reading Heather Clark’s 1,118-page biography of Sylvia Plath. Was struck by this line:

“What are we fighting for? ‘For’ nothing. Against communism. That word, communism, is blinding. No one knows exactly what it means, and yet they hate everything associated with it. One thing I am convinced of: you can’t kill an idea.”

— Sylvia Plath, age 17, in a letter to a German pen-pal, August 1950

My combat veteran husband says much the same about “terrorism.” We can try to bomb it into submission, but you can’t kill an idea–and the bombing only makes it bloom elsewhere.

Sylvia Plath drew this, at age 13, for a 38-page school report:

If killing ideas doesn’t work, and killing people on our way to killing ideas doesn’t work, we’ll have to figure something else out.

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