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Seeking Peace in Warlike Times

"War is Peace"
1984 by George Orwell (published 1949)

"Making War to Keep Peace"
Amb. Jeanne Kirkpatrick last book (published 2006)

The Atomic Bomb is >"a revolutionary weapon destined to change war as we know it, or which may even be the instrumentality to end all wars."
News release of the War Department on the advent of the Atomic Bomb, August, 1945

Recently I sent a letter to seven of my closest relatives, pointing out the ultimate insanity of War: that the ultimate outcome of War seems only to be another and ever more deadly War.

One of the seven responded in what I felt was a very reasoned way, including as part of his response this statement: "As long as you are searching for evidence of an enduring peace that results from armed conflict, try to find any case of an enduring peace that results from negotiations. Let's just say for the sake of argument that "enduring peace" means 100 years."

That response is really an effective one in that it answers a question by asking another question. And, indeed, it is a difficult question to answer, especially if you happen to be part of what has come to be known as the "Western World" where for all of recorded history there has been catastrophic war on top of catastrophic war, with only short intervals of peace until the next, and even more awful, conflict begins.

It is easy to lose hope and to embrace a truly dismal reality that War is all there is, and that the only solution is to become ever more diabolical in your means of waging War.

I have not lost hope, but I need first to explore this hopeless narrative a little further.

The three quotes at the beginning of this column say a great deal in relationship to reality and in relationship to our present and our future. The Orwell quote is central to his dismal view of the future of humankind in his novel 1984. "War is Peace", "Freedom is Slavery", "Ignorance is Strength" were the slogans of his dominant Party. He is oft quoted today.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick's recent book title in itself mirrors Orwell: "Making War to Keep Peace". I have not yet read this book, and may not, but the reviews of Amb. Kirkpatrick's notion of realpolitik are interesting to read, and easily accessible to any interested person at places like www.Amazon.com.

Then there is the War Department news release about the Atomic Bomb. I found this quote in a clipped out article from an early August, 1945, issue of the Grand Forks (ND) Herald. It had been included in a letter written August 9, 1945, by my Aunt, to her husband, then a Naval Officer serving on a Destroyer in the Pacific. You can find no statement more naive, especially in the present day world when we, by far the most well armed nuclear nation in all of history are living in fear of being attacked by some terrorist carrying the very bomb that we created "to end all wars".

Peace has never really had its chance in our contemporary world, in my opinion.

War has had innumerable chances, each time leading to temporary success (at least for the "winner") until the next war. Our Football Super Bowl culture is modeled on, and indeed a good example of, the futility of a Culture of Winners and Losers, and Competition as the final decider of who will reign supreme.

Next February there will be another Super Bowl. And somebody will win, and the fans (and the successful bettors) will be pleased. But fame is fleeting, and February 2009 odds are against the 2008 Super Bowl champ repeating...this time they'll be a loser.

Peace may be elusive, and the "poor cousin" to War in the search for dominance in the world, but it is the only enduring solution, the only chance the human race has for survival. War is an abject and utter failure and as we're learning no longer 'conventional' (i.e. one we can control). The slippery slope to catastrophe is ever steeper, ever faster, unless we collectively take stock.

I don't plan to research my relatives question in response to a question: it's a waste of time. Peace has never been given a chance.

I do know the difference between War and Peace, and I plan to work for Peace so long as I have a breath to breathe, and I hope you do the same. As the anthem goes "A thousand stones can build an arch, singly none." we'll build Peace one action at a time.

Peace. Peace. Peace.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 27, 2007 4:03 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Paul Loeb and Faith Kidder: The Unsung Hero.

The next post in this blog is Revisiting The Letter from Birmingham Jail.

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