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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 3.22.07

Demonic War

Incompatible with morality and maturity

BY EDGAR PEARA

Peace is a modern idea. Not peace as simply the absence of war. Persons and countries have always entertained that idea of peace. The contemporary concept of peace as an active circumstance is much more than the opposite of active combat.

WILLIAM C. MIDDLETON

Modern peace is the nonviolent agreement created by nations who commit themselves to resolving differences and solving problems by rational, civilized bargaining, by patient reasoning and open-minded, unselfish flexibility.

In the same sense freedom is also a modern idea. Twenty-five centuries ago, Aeschylus, the Greek dramatist wrote, "No one is free save Jove."

Our country's founders were motived by a desire to make human freedom a reality for white colonists. The Emancipation Proclamation almost a century later proclaimed freedom to be a universal American reality. But isn't actual freedom and respect for all persons so new and untried that we're still working at making it palpable for everyone?

And so war, like human subjection, is primitive barbarism. War is madness, the brutal denial of human dignity. War is materialism, violence, cruelty, inability to recognize and resolve differences. War is lust for power. In Iraq, it's a consuming craving for the oil that powers our fossil fuel dependent nation.

James Madison wrote, "The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the ... venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."

Wars begin in fearful, selfish, impractical human minds before they become armed conflict. Only crude, small-minded persons want war.

Peace begins in humane, intelligent, innovative thinking with creative ideas. Slaves' eventual emancipation began in the abolitionists' minds.

We weren't born as a peaceful, charitable persons. Babies are totally self-centered. One has to learn to be an unselfish, nonviolent adult. Peace means being loving and respectful of the lives of others. No one has the right to kill another person.

War is demonic, immature. It is incompatible with morality, high-minded religion and common sense. Peace is an active condition more difficult to achieve than any military objective.

When our country invaded and provoked war with Iraq – a third world country of only 17 million persons that was no threat to us - it was not by the action of our president alone. Congress voted for the war, at the time with the approval of a big majority of our citizens. Isn't that shocking evidence of our barbarism and primitive inhumanity?

In contrast, our government had difficulty in persuading other democracies who were our allies to make an alliance with us to invade Iraq.

We elect and support a government whose policies have been characterized by lies, secrecy, terrorism, torture and military might.

President John F. Kennedy challenged us when he said, "May we be worthy of our power and responsibility that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint and … achieve in our time the ancient wisdom of peace on earth, good will toward men."

War is the immature, weak behavior of the cruel and impatient. Peace is the effort of the mature, strong and courageous.

After the bloody, martial history of the last century in which more died in wars than ever before in history, wouldn't we like to believe that civilized nations would now renounce war as an instrument of foreign policy? For war doesn't resolve interstate controversies. It crushes justice, produces death, cripples, widows, orphans, brings higher taxes and creates more scoundrels than it kills.

In our democracy, our thinking and values help set the course of our ship of state. Intelligent foreign policy, true diplomacy and effective peacemaking use forums in which disputing parties can examine their differences until agreements that benefit all parties are created. That is why the U.N., World Court and Arab League exist.

 

To establish peace one must understand that it is created by nonviolence, patience, reason, courage, unselfishness, just compromises and disciplined willingness to persevere in seeking understanding. It is immature and much easier to demonize an enemy, to say he is totally wrong and demand he do what you want without listening to his arguments.

Is there a sensible way one can help bring peace to our militaristic nation and retarded culture? What would help civilization and our country move beyond barbarism?

Can we believe in peace as abolitionists believed in freedom? They worked to make it a reality for the slaves.

War must be abolished. How willing are we to believe in peace, to work for it and vote for it? Do we have the moral strength to demonstrate for it until the world is emancipated from war?

Are we willing to help advance the evolution of our nation and the world away from violent militarism and war toward peace? That achievement will come eventually. Each advocate of peace can help speed its arrival.

Edgar Peara, a WWII veteran, has been a peace advocate for more than 40 years. He is a founding member of Eugene's Veterans for Peace.