“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts…Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace…man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Surely, most humans want peace for their children’s future. Peace starts with us. A 2014 Gallup poll asked 66,000 people from 65 nations what was the “greatest threat to peace in the world today?” A plurality answered: the United States. Statistics confirm the U.S. has yet to become a genuinely peace seeking society.
Violence is in the U.S. DNA from Native American genocide and slavery to dozens of recent non-defensive military invasions. Our deregulated profit seeking media is saturated with violence and content that leads to violence against women. We’re a militaristic culture of bloodlust that teaches children that violence solves problems best, so widespread school shootings and police brutality are unsurprising. However, DNA is subject to mutation.
Despite endless war glorification, we’ve never had a “war to end all war.” War and violence never achieved an enduring peaceful order.
Many believe World War II was the “good” war. Hitler was defeated, but lasting peace was never reached, and horrific terroristic atrocities were committed by all sides. Most problematically, WWII was followed by our establishment of a permanent war economy, nuclear arms race and vast empire, which now entails 700-1000 foreign military bases.
This empire exists to control other nations’ resources, and makes Americans less safe. It entails dozens of invasions, CIA coups overthrowing democracies and installing puppet dictators, which fuel hatred, extremist radicalization and terrorism.
Thankfully, WWII inspired a peace institution with this United Nations Charter: “We The Peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for…international law can be maintained…and for these ends, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another…and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security…”
Although there have been no wars between major powers since, many smaller conflicts occurred and the U.N. helped resolve over 170 of them, according to Inter Press Service News. The U.N. has been unsuccessful in resolving other conflicts, especially Israel, which involve the interests of the five nations with Security Council veto power. Describing vitally needed U.N. reform, including abolishing the P5 veto, will require another essay.
Reforming the U.N. is only one piece of the peace puzzle. Like transforming the suicidal fossil fuel energy system, shifting away from the war economy is multifaceted. Although no major politician will admit it, the two transformations are one. A Truthout article titled “The Military Assault on the Climate” points out: “the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum…(energy, and)… Any talk of climate change which does not include the military is nothing but hot air.”
As the world’s greatest economic and military power, we’re leading the world to apocalyptic annihilation with escalation of war and terrorism, and ignorant environmental disrespect. Yet, we can change gears and lead the world toward peace and true civilization.
To inspire the mandatory change of “swords to plowshares,” a serious revolutionary leader must frame this as a National Emergency akin to confronting Hitler. Vast transformation of American peacetime manufacturing for WWII was immense, and now we must reverse this.
The National Emergency must entail a deeply urgent imperative for international cooperation, and massive investment in open source scientific research and development of alternative energies, conservation technology, desalinization, etc. Everyone involved in the war economy must be guaranteed jobs in the peace economy, especially bright scientific minds.
Revolutionary transformation of the oil and war economy, and strategic multilateral abolition of all death machines is crucial. Domestic gun control is baby talk compared to the need for International Arms Control, and to ban all war profiteering. The highly decorated Marine General Smedley Butler said, the (war racket) can only be “smashed effectively…by taking the profit out of war.”
Pope Francis recently said to our Congress, “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money – money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” A recent International Business Times article reports, “U.S. foreign arms sales…surged 36% to $46.6 billion in fiscal 2015,” with a significant portion being fighter jets sold to brutal “Islamic” dictatorships.
Although establishing enduring peace is far more arduous than going to war, it’s among the highest callings for people everywhere. Peace must be seen as a noble and divine goal, not a cliché pipe dream. It’s a very sober objective to aim at in the interest of all. Yes, we can construct a robust peace architecture that provides for nonviolent conflict resolution in all aspects of global society.
Great teachers insist we abandon revenge, and expand empathy. Until then, tears will pour like waterfalls from widows and orphans gazing at the ugly blood smeared face of “civilization.”
O Love, stop whispering.