But I just spent three days listening to activists and experts explain that we CAN abolish war. We CAN exchange the culture of violence in which we live for a culture of peace and nonviolence. We DO have the technology and science to back us up IF we believe in our collective power to create a different world.
I want to enlist you - and all that you care about - into the still small anti-war/pro-peace movement. Because, as Dennis Kucinich reminded us, “The lie about war is that we are separate from each other.” . It follows that the truth about peace is that we recognize our interconnectedness, and it includes all of our issues. We simply need to expand our focus and imaginations. We don’t have to add another cause to our list, just widen our umbrella. Here are a few notes to help us do that.
Define war. Besides violence and killing, war is also preparation for war that robs our local budgets to produce more weapons. It is poverty and resource theft. It is the contamination that spreads onto our streets and schools, It is massive pollution and consumption of natural resources. It is the lack of imagination to look for alternatives.
Define peace. It is whatever we think will meet our basic human needs, that will protect all life, that respects cultural identities, and protects us from avoidable harm. (This definition came from Kozue Akibayashi of WILPF who also lay blame for war on patriarchy’s values of power, strength and force.)
What are the root causes of war, besides patriarchy? Harvey Wasserman, who called Howard Zinn his mentor, mentioned that the Puritans provided a spiritual foundation for our Nation which was decidedly racist. I presume Harvey expands on this idea in his book “Harvey Wasserman’s History of the U.S.” And clearly greed is a root cause, as the arms industry wants to make money regardless of the human cost.
How does war act? It dehumanizes “the enemy”, uses rape as a weapon of war, and kills far more civilians than soldiers. It also lays bare the land it comes to.
How does peace act? What is our concrete vision of a home, a community and a world at peace? Without this vision we can’t hope to attract the youth, whose energy we need for this and all of our causes. For this I will quote John Dear, SJ because he offered us the clearest path forward.
l) Act like we are already there, living a culture of peace.
2 Non-cooperate with and resist the culture of death.
3 Practice non-violence daily, toward others, toward self, and towards the planet and all its creatures.
4 Come out to support all grassroots efforts for change, because they are all connected.
5 Create non-violent cities. (His organization, Campaign Nonviolence, leads this effort.)
6 Insist on the truth that all religions are rooted in nonviolence and can be called on to teach and spread it.
7 Resist the loss of imagination imposed by the culture of war which tries to blind us to our ability to achieve peace.Declare the Abolition of War with the same certainty that the abolitionists declared the abolition of slavery.
I have left out more than I have included from this World Beyond War weekend conference, but perhaps you will join me in putting ending war in your thinking as a real possibility - as a real necessity - that we CAN achieve together.
"World Beyond War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace."