Wednesday, November 30
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Someone told me, "It's time we drop the wonderfully idealistic idea that we have the capability on this earth for lasting peace". My response:
It seems to me we already HAVE given up that idea, and are reaping the consequences. What are the consequences of millions of people giving up on peace? Peace takes work. It requires that people form connections across boundary lines, and undermine
the paradigm of mutual suspicion and demonization that leads to escalation of conflict.
Wars now kill more civilians than combatants, and technology makes it possible
to kill more people on the same budget. This creates an accelerating learning curve, with increasingly painful returns if we don't change how we think about war. You can say, "There aren't enough people to stop the tide of violence", but even in Nazi Germany, against overwhelming odds, some people took a stand. Not enough. Not all Germans were perpetrators or bystanders. Some saw the weather changing and responded. But not enough, and not soon enough. There were people in Bosnia who helped their neighbors at great risk to themselves. Their action should be praised, rather than viewed as pointless. It is only a matter of how much suffering is required to unite enough people to create a more positive wave. It's a question of how many people take the apathetic position, how many instigate violence, and how
We cannot assume that wars are caused by limited material resources. Many of the causes of war are psychological. The US did not need the resources of Iraq. But the public mood in the US was paranoid and willing to accept the idea of pre-emptive attack. We fight in order to feel secure. Eventually, fighting will undermine everyone's security.
People often say, "It's ridiculous to think you can end all war". Which to me is a bit like saying you shouldn't bother to treat (or prevent) cancer because you can't cure ALL cancer. It might be a bit ambitious to try to stop ALL wars. I'd settle for focusing enough attention on the most dangerous scenarios and prevent those.
It would be nice at least if people dropped the notion that war is some inevitable
thing like an earthquake. War is the mass action of human beings, acting on beliefs and perceptions which build up for decades before violence officially breaks out.
It is only mass inaction that prevents a better outcome.