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Is World Peace Possible?
The High Cost of Wars
Written on Memorial Day, 2012:
On this day, all over Face Book, were hundreds of posts with reminders of the reason we have such a "holiday." There were 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 thus the celebrations; it rankles that so many today have no idea of the actual meaning of the day. Since the holiday is about remembering, honoring, and paying homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as to those who survived, it just feels to this writer that 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? Do you know that the parades were originally a tribute by the living to honor those both fallen and who continue to serve, and not a commercial or political advertising opportunity?
And 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?" I, myself, am cast back to the Rodney King incident, and feel with him, "Why can't we all just get along?"
What is worse, and shameful, is the glorification of the idea of war seen in the back-slapping camaraderie of many (no, not "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.
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 few situations in which we humans exhibit the appropriate skills to solve problems without violence; one remaining is in the arena of formalized debating. Yet even that lofty forum has slid away from its strict rules, with debaters interrupting each other, calling their opponents out as liars, and so forth.
GLORY - L = GORY
The Machines of War Lay Waste to Hope
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, and continue to do so with each successive generation!
In truth, every life lost, no matter on whose "side" it is lost; every one of those lives, whether on the battlefield or in civilian areas, is someone's beloved spouse, parent, sibling, or other relative, or even a dear friend.
No one ever "wins" a war; it's only a matter of who can outlast or out maneuver the other. The toll taken by wars throughout history is colossal. The destruction of lives is all the sadder when the lost potential of that life is considered.
Which of them might have translated an ancient, lost language? Which of them may have found cure for cancer? Which of them might have found a way for all to have clean energy at reasonable cost? Who might have solved world hunger? The list goes on...
No one ever "wins" a war
What Is War?
At its simplest and most basic level, a war is nothing more than a disagreement over some principle or concept. It's a schoolyard argument and fight gone out of control to horrifying proportions. What a shame that adults cannot seem to outgrow the urge to fight, instead of negotiating.
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 fall right back into the categories of greed, power, and control.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.— Albert Einstein
How Do We End Wars?
It will not be easy. Too many people in high places are in love with 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, (or say they do), and spout it as a constant stream of propaganda in one form or another.
Why? Because too many are too enamored of the obscene profits they've made from the building of machines of war and destruction, which devastate the economy at large, while fattening their own wallets. Let them instead learn to make their money on peaceable products which benefit all mankind.
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.) It will be a long and difficult challenge to prise the uber-rich away from their power trips.
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: Everyone must keep their religious beliefs to themselves, believing whatever they wish, but not try to force them upon anyone else; no matter what god or gods they choose to worship; no matter if they worship none. But it does matter when they "get in everyone's face" and attempt to convince them of their ways.
To each his own, and as long as no one is doing anyone else any harm, what does it matter?As an old song refrain says, "...for it's nobody's business but our own." Many ancient philosophies embody the sentiment of, "Do what thou wilt, nay harm ye none, for love be the law."
There are those who may call this 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. I am not the first, nor will I be the last.
We Must Each Do Our Part!
Pass this message along to the upcoming generations; teach them to talk out their differences, and to live and let live, and perhaps, someday, we will have a world living together in peace and harmony--provided we don't blow ourselves to smithereens first.
A Time to Reflect and Remember
© 2012 Liz Elias