Welcome everyone! On Thursday evening, as I sat down to write this letter I heard the State of the Nation 21 Gun Salute. I felt the buildings around my office slightly shudder. I heard the military band and imagined the military accompaniment.
Why is it that we use machines of death to celebrate the state of a nation? These instruments of destruction point to a nation’s shame not glory. Have our imaginations become so stunted that we are unable to express our nationhood with signs and symbols of life and unity? Symbols that remind us that we are part of a larger world, that we are called to care for, instead of threaten.
There is one country in the world that we can learn from in this regard. On December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer, of Costa Rica, abolished the military of Costa Rica after victory in the civil war in that year. In a ceremony in the Cuartel Bellavista, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet, symbolizing the end of Costa Rica’s military spirit. In 1949, the abolition of the military was introduced in Article 12 of the Costa Rican Constitution.
The budget previously dedicated to the military now is dedicated to security, education and culture; the country maintains Police Guard forces. The museum Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, was placed in the Cuartel Bellavista as a symbol of commitment to culture. In 1986, President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared December 1 as the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day) with Law #8115.
Thank you God for inspiring and faithful examples. Lord help us as a nation, to follow. Alan