Recipe for World Peace
Memorial Day, 2012
Today, all over Face Book, are hundreds of posts with reminders of the reason we have such a "holiday." There are stories of people's memories from their youth; stories of the sadness and tragedy of losing friends in a war; images of families and friends placing flags and flowers on graves and reading names from memorial walls and plaques.
It is very sad, and very maddening, all at the same time. Here we have a National holiday that is the traditional kick-off to summer fun, what with barbeques, picnics, fireworks, boating, and so forth, all in memory of the senseless loss of lives in wars. This juxtaposition just feels wrong.
While it is true that many of the wars of the past allowed us to be free of the constraints placed upon us by the government of another country, and remembering that and paying homage to those soldiers, both those who fell and those who survived, is the reason for the holiday, it just feels like it should be a more somber celebration.
How many know that the beautiful, breathtaking fireworks displays we love were originally a representation and re-creation of the sound and appearance of the gunfire, bombs and rocket blasts of wartime? How many realize that the parades are a tribute by the living to honor those both fallen and who continue to serve? How many set an empty place at their picnic table to honor those men and women?
The "Glory" of War?? What?
All of this puts many of us into a mindset of "why should there be wars, anyway?" We are cast back to the Rodney King incident, and feel with him, "Why can't we all just get along?"
Indeed! If only our social skills as human beings had evolved at the same rate as our technical knowledge, we might well be at that place, all just getting along famously. Sadly, that is not the case. There are a few situations in which we humans exhibit the appropriate skills to solve problems without violence, and that is in the arena of formalized debating. All world leaders need to study and master those skills.
Without words, we resort to the sword. And sadly, the sword has morphed into mortars, stealth aircraft, remotely controlled drones, and "personnel bombs" that preserve the buildings for use by the invading forces.
We are the only species on the planet to engage in such self-destructive behavior.
What is worse, and shameful, is the glorification of the idea of war seen in the back-slapping camaraderie of many (no, I did not say "all") war veterans, giving the old "hoo-rah," as they recall their battle exploits in killing off the 'bad guys.' I guess the definition of who the 'bad guys' are depends upon your perspective, for in reality, each thinks that of the others.
Hollywood has not helped the matter at all--rather, they've fed into it; created a lust for it; made the younger generations dream of having "their turn" at such so-called glory. For a reality check, just remove the letter "L" from 'glory,' and you have the truth of the matter.
What Is War?
At its simplest and most basic level, a war is nothing more than a disagreement over some principle or concept: an argument gone out of control to horrifying proportions.
There are, and have been, throughout history, only two main causes for wars: greed and religion.
In the first case, some country's leader decides that his empire is simply not large enough, and he wants to control the world, or, he wants to own the products made by that other country or territory, so he will not have to pay to import them--they will be his to use and profit from. In the end, it boils down to money.
In the second case, there is some ruler who has gone to extremist views with his religion, and feels that it is somehow his sworn and sacred duty to convert the rest of the population to his way of thinking.
Religious extremism is dangerous, no matter the religion in question. It is also the ultimate irony and contradiction, since most of the world's major religions have some dictum in place against killing people. And, so far as I have been able to determine, not one of them includes a qualifier stating, " Unless they don't agree with us; then slaughter them all."
Yet the extremists somehow manage to twist the intent of the wording in their "holy books" to force a meaning suitable to their own ends--which usually falls right back into the category of greed--which is about power and control.
How Do We End Wars?
It will not be easy. Too many people in high places are too enamored of the faulty concept that war is good for the economy. Although that is the opposite of the truth, The Powers That Be (TPTB) like to believe this, and spout it as a constant stream of propaganda in one form or another.
However, just as the basis of war boils down to a simple pair of concepts, so is the solution a simple pair of concepts. (Note, simple ≠ easy.)
First, End greed. Be happy with what you have, and stop lusting after what another country has. World leaders must grow up and stop acting like spoiled children fighting over a toy until they end up with it broken and forgotten, and forget what they were fighting about, so engrossed have they become in the actual battle.
Next, keep your religious beliefs to yourself. Believe whatever you wish, but stop trying to force your ideas down anyone else's throats. I don't care what god or gods you choose to worship; I don't care if you worship none. But I do care if you "get in my face" and attempt to convince me of your ways.
To each his own, and as long as no one is doing anyone else any harm, then live and let live! The French say this as, "Je ne sais quoi." Roughly it translates to "Whatever." The same sentiment goes back in very ancient roots from many various philosophies as, "Do what thou wilt, nay harm ye none, for love be the law."
There are those who may accuse me of a Communist viewpoint--that is not the case; most folks mistake true peace for Communism, for they know little of either. Alternately, there are those who would point out that this is a Pollyanna-like, unrealistic view and goal. They may be right. But we all have our dreams, and World Peace is mine. Nor am I the first, nor will I be the last.
Pass the message along to the upcoming generations, and perhaps, someday, we will have a world living together in peace and harmony--provided we don't blow ourselves to smithereens first.
As Albert Einstein observed, ""I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
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