World War One began a hundred years ago. Billed as “The war to end all wars,” it was but the beginning of more than one hundred years of continuous war fought somewhere, wars that have cost trillions of dollars and killed tens of millions of people both civilian and military. One wonders why we continue something that is so costly in human and money. The answer is fairly simple. War is also very good business. And it employs a lot of people. Japan, where I live, has had a peace tradition since the end of World War 2. For years, the U.S. has nudged Japan to a more active role than simply defending itself. Currently the Japanese government is developing a radical new, very maneuverable fighter plane. It is also working with universities to develop more weapon systems. The reason is obvious: there is a lot of money to be made. Weapon sales is a huge business for Israel, which admittedly uses Gaza to test its latest weapons.
“Giving up war at this moment in history,” writes author Winslow Myers, “resembles an addict giving up his addiction, only to find he must face not only life without the crutch of drink or drugs, but also address the underlying life-challenges the drink or drugs allowed him to avoid. It involves a painful awakening from a trance, a giving up of resistance to reality as we come to see where and who we really are. . . ” (“Life Beyond War”. To read the entire article, click on the title.) War, and depending on military solutions to problems, keep the slaughter going. There are better ways, but very little commitment to exploring them. Recovering from an addiction is not easy, but it is possible. It is also necessary, both in human and environmental terms, as modern weapons are “the single greatest source of environmental pollution on the planet” (Winslow Myers’ article).
We are, like it or not, linked together with every other thing. If we want a liveable future for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we must recognize that, give up our “specialness,” our biases and our hatreds and begin treating others and every other thing with respect. We must also give up our reliance (addiction) on militarism to solve our problems, as that, like taking “one last” drink or hit, only makes them worse. Does this mean giving up in the face of danger? No, it does not. It means seeking peaceful solutions to problems first. If someone breaks in my door and threatens my wife, I will try to calm the invader down. If that does not work and the invader becomes more threatening, I will do whatever I can to take him down. Then I will call the police to take him away and lock him up.
Treating everyone and everything with respect, as you and I would like to be treated, is, after all, the best way to a new, more viable life.
More on this in later posts.