Seventy years ago today, World War II officially ended with the formal signing of surrender documents by Japanese officials on board the USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.
The toll of the war was horrendous worldwide, and you would’ve had to look hard to find someone who felt the killing and destruction should continue. How, then, could we stop such a thing from occurring again?
The men at Camp Angel didn’t claim to have an answer, but they tried their best to create an alternative through their words and actions.
They weren’t against the men who fought in the war; they were against war itself, the very idea of war. And they believed that if they could express a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world, that was opposite the view of war, then perhaps they might be able to make a difference.
The way, they felt, was through art. Through words and pictures and music, through painting and sculpture and drama, through every possible manifestation of making instead of destroying — they felt that if they demonstrated a world of possibility over inevitability, then perhaps a new way of thinking might slowly take root and grow.
And that’s what they did. They wrote and published and composed, they painted and sculpted and acted, they dreamed and built and made things with their minds and hearts and hands. And they put it out there for the world to see.
Their focus all along had been not on the current conflict, but on what kind of society might be possible when the shooting finally stopped.
If they had a maxim, it could be found buried at the end of a dust jacket blurb in their first printed book, The Horned Moon, by Glen Coffield:
“As for our purpose, it is simple enough. These are the years of destruction; we offer against them the creative act.”