Creating peace

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For a viable future to be possible we must, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said many years ago, learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools. The reason why is clear: the destructive power of our weapons, the indiscriminate way they are used, and humanity’s addiction to war will, if not stopped, destroy life as we know it through poisoning our land, water and atmosphere with war’s toxic compounds. And that doesn’t count the damage done with birth defects and other health-related problems.

We are addicted to war and the money generated by the weapons industry, and the people involved have little-to-no interest in losing any of it. Peace is not part of the picture, only death and destruction are. The tools of war are taken for granted in the marketplace as if they are nothing unusual, marketed as if they are not much different from the latest model cars or appliances. They do an efficient job, and get you where you want to go.

Watching the evening news one evening, I watched a salesman at a munitions trade show talk about the product he was selling. A nice-looking middle-aged man, probably with a family, he would go home to after the show closed, pleased with the number of sales he had made. Now maybe he and his wife can take the vacation they’ have talked about. The product he was selling will make this dream possible, a new, safer cluster bomb, designed to avoid civilian casualties, killing only combatants. Yet how does a pilot know which os which on the ground below? Listening to the salesman, the impression given was that the cluster bombs would know.

Canisters filled with violence are marketed like the latest model appliance in any department store. The salesman is pleased. His customers will take their receipts with them and await the product’s delivery. A successful day. Perhaps a promotion or a special recognition. But what of the people on whom these cluster bombs are dropped?

What does this say about us as a society, that we can sell weapons as if they are no more than useful appliances used to get a job done well? What does it say about our future as a species, about hope or fear in a small child’s eyes, eyes haunted by grief and terror? Which brings me back to Dr. King’s remark about learning to see each others as brothers, or perishing as fools. As Moscow journalist Yan Shenkman said: “The only moral act right now is to see that killing people is a bad thing, whoever commits it and for whatever aims. Meanwhile, helping people is clearly a good thing. We work to remind people about this moral rule” (in Roger Amis: Children of War Photo Series Tells Stories of Youth in Wartime Ukraine, “Truthout,” 18 January 2015).

The first step to building a liveable future is learning to treat others as we want them to treat us, and practicing it every day with everyone we meet. It’s very simple, just not easy. Easy comes with practice. I don’t know about you, but I want a world in which my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are able to live in peace with their neighbors. I want a world in which, more and more, people recognize that we are all one people, all members of the same family, and we respect that. We learn to live as brothers and sisters, members of the same family, or we condemn our future to death.

Is changing the way we live and see things possible? It is if we focus on treating each other as we wish to be treated. In 1952 as a college freshman, I met a student who became one of my best friends for over fifty years. Our friendship was unusual in those days, because I am white and my friend is black. Many years after we met I asked him why we had become such close friends. His answer: “Because you didn’t treat me as different.” That is the key. When we see people as “different,” we see them as one of “them.” When we don’t see others as “different”, we see them as one of us, as potential neighbors and friends, as family. Very simple; easy comes with practice. The time to begin practicing is now.

But first, a glaring example of how not to build peace, which keeps the destructive cycle going. More about this in my next post.

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About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at www.geogepolleyauthor.com.
This entry was posted in Children, Commentary, Current Events, George Polley, Golden Rule, humanity, Peace, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Creating peace

  1. shatara46 says:

    George, without actually disagreeing with you, I’m going to actually do just that. Perhaps I should wait for the sequel to “Creating Peace” but my time is to some extent accounted for, so I’ll go at it now. I see where you are going, and I have walked down that road many miles in many lives (yes, past lives play a large role in my philosophy) only to find myself time and again back at the starting line. Looking back, I saw some of the things I had accomplished, but no real change to the “machine” could I observe. Man as a collective remains the same, no matter if Religion or the State or Money rule nations, empires or the world as is the case today. Same issues, same problems which exacerbate with overpopulation and too much technology.
    It is not “we” who will make change, it is “I” and “I” alone. It doesn’t matter at all how I wish to be treated by others, that’s a red herring. The problem with this is, it’s a give and take thing, and it takes us back to Old Testament philosophy of an eye for an eye. It leads to expectations and that leads to a sense of futility. That must be avoided at all costs.
    No collective effort can ever make a dent in man’s problems, but it certainly can cause serious problems. There are no “good” or “bad” collectives – only dis-empowering ones. “God” did not make the world a better place because “God” is a system. So is politics (in any form) and so is money, however it is misused. All lesser collectives or power groups exist at the sufferance of the ruling system, therefore they cannot change anything. Whatever power “we” (any number beyond one) can garner will always be countermanded by the system – there are no exceptions to this. So if change is desired, the only change that can be made is for me to change me. By myself. Detachment; self-empowerment and compassion based on choice. These, and only these can bring one to understanding of the two fundamental forces that give meaning to a human life: joy and sorrow. To the self-empowered, peace is an internal condition, never dependent on an external one.

  2. Jerry grant says:

    What’s so amazing is that one on one most..that is MOST…folks given even Half a chance can be friends..if not friends at least live peaceably with one another…now ..how to translate that to family’s…tribes..religions..and of course the big one…national ambitions..likely that can not be done,considering what the world comprised of….at this time and in the foreseeable future…it’s sad but true…the folks talking about love and everybody living and let live are admirable in their efforts….so go ahead ..who knows someday it all will sink into everybody’s heads…especially the mullahs politicians and dictators

    • shatara46 says:

      One on one, generally speaking, people would tend to live peaceably with one another. But this world is not lived one-on-one, but group/collective on group/collective and this process is predatory in nature. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When self-empowered and self-motivated individuals chose to live accordingly, they will no longer feel the need for God, gods, their priesthoods, politicians, corporate execs and military dictators. These then will simply cease to exist. But to expect power-wielders to care for the rank and file is akin to expecting the hungry lion to care for a young or crippled wildebeest. All leadership is predatory in nature. Some types are more obvious than others. Cf., Twilight of the Psychopaths, by Dr. Kevin Barrett and The Trick of the Psychopath’s Trade by Silvia Cattori. Both articles are recommended. Both articles reference the book Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, by Andrzej Lobaczewski. You’re entering into seriously deep waters now, Jerry, but based on your angst-filled comments, I think you owe it to yourself to go through this material in order to understand what moves these sub-human creatures. Understanding is what sets us free from our fears.

    • gwpj says:

      You’ve been reading my mind again Jerry. 🙂 I totally agree with you.

  3. shatara46 says:

    Ahhhh, where’s the post-posting of comment edit feature? That’s … self-motivated individuals *choose* to live… (not “chose”)

  4. Jerry grant says:

    Oh ,but one must face reality…the ego drive and ruthlessness it needs to gain power,plus the money and power brokers one needs …brings the worst possible people to power….with a few exceptions …like golda Mandela..George Washington.a very few others…..these world leaders guarantee disaster for the Everyman of the world…..

    • gwpj says:

      This is in reply to both of you. Sorry I’ve not appeared to take part in this discussion lately. The past few days have been busy. Suddenly tomorrow morning has opened up, so I’ll be back again with a response to both of you. Thanks for stopping by.

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