PEACE is an attitude, not a conviction. It is the will to avoid conflicts and war, not to totally eliminate it which is passivism. It is the equalizer of social and political behavior. Its fig leaf sends a signal that I am open to dialog and am interested in hearing and understanding what you have to say about yourself and about me. It is about the absence of ego, that threats real or perceived will not hinder my pursuit of a peaceful resolution and harmonious relationship. It is the fundamental basis of most mainstream religions.
PEACE is the overriding theme taught by Christ while he ministered to the poor, lepers, and marginalized with such lessons as The Good Samaritan and The Golden Rule. These lessons would have been more relevant to those in power but power was corrupted and corrupting so theses lessons were intended for future generations. It is the principle we teach our children when they are young but abandon as adults as if it is something unreachable so not worthy of pursuit. PEACE is all about Love, Compassion, and Respect for others and the world in which we live. It is all about “…Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” especially when we have the bigger guns and “…if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” And it is about “Do not repay anyone evil for evil … never avenge yourselves.” It is about washing the feet of those below us because there really is no one below us. I’m sure the Muslims have similar sayings. We are all equal in flesh and in the eyes of our creator. Though I am agnostic I do believe in many of the universal words of wisdom the Bible and other religions have to offer.
Inequality is all in our minds. We simplistically think ourselves superior because of our higher standard of living and high moral values. But are we really? If we feel belittled by others, we Perceive this as a threat to be eliminated so we lash out with aggression and saber-rattling and eventually deadly force with superior weapons and troops. Vengeance plays high in our hierarchy of actions against those who do violence on our own. But all it really is is a Perception of a threat even though it may seem very real. Vengeance can be a two-way street, the Hatfields and McCoys. We always have a choice on how to respond even though we often feel we don’t. But as the most powerful nation on the planet are others truly a real threat to us if we leave them alone or try to practice some Christian humility, forgiveness, and compassion? But we do as we do as a nation and often as individuals in spite of all the religious and moral teaching of our Faiths. There is a terrible mismatch between our moral values and our cultural heritage.
The mighty sword should Only be used as the very last resort and extremely rarely at that. Its abundant use is compelling evidence of a consistent pattern of forcing our Perceived adversaries to capitulate. This is not Peace, Love, or Compassion as I understand it. It is its nemesis: Power, military might, and don’t mess with me. This is the reason why we inherit the sins of our parents and continue such behaviors generation after generation failing to realize that war and domination are not conducive to PEACE.
What we fail to understand is that PEACE is an attitude of forming and nurturing lasting relationships. Where there is a will, there is a way. But like many good things it is not easy to do but in the end costs little in terms of lives and money and eliminates threats by engendering willing trust. It is made that much more difficult because we have so little practice at it as well as having the historic distrust of many who have grown to despise us. But forging lasting relationships with people and nations who initially distrust us is always going to be at best difficult. It becomes much easier if we have a reputation for making PEACE instead of declaring war or imposing Sanctions all on our uncompromising terms.
PEACE is alien to our nature because it is not always on our terms but it is consistent with our moral upbringing and the unconditional values taught by our various Faiths. If only our foreign policy was run by the innocence of babes. But we have these all mighty high-tech Armed Forces ready at a single command so why not use them? That is how the bully in us dominates our response to nations and groups we strongly disagree with as long as their guns are significantly smaller than ours. So is that Evil in us our bottom line, our ego over common sense and moral values? Are we doomed to sending troops whenever we cannot negotiate a peaceful resolution because everything must be done our way? What about basic morality as taught by our various Faiths? Don’t they count for anything? What is the meaning of “…But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” when holding our bigger guns at the ready? Are there certain conditions stated for this to be true? Must Peace and Compassion be conditional? If other nations do not practice their Faith then does that give us license to do the same?
It is the military’s function to exercise its might but the President’s responsibility to use diplomacy to achieve a positive outcome if at all possible. How successful have we been at PEACE in the last century? At what cost in lives and taxpayer’s money have conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East achieved lasting PEACE? We did right with Japan and Germany at the end of WWII. We gave them back their dignity instead of punishing them as nations out of revenge. And they eventually thrived and became our close allies. So we do know how to do it right.