My Year of Peace: International Day of Peace

Happy International Day of Peace! On September 21, 1981, International Day of Peace was born (only a few months after me). The United Nations conceived this day as a memorial to the end of war worldwide.

IDoP celebrates the movement for political peace. My own journey focuses on spiritual peace, but I find that the two are clearly linked. In the spirit of today, I thought I would share a few thoughts about my political pacifism, since most of my other posts focus more on spiritual issues. For me, the two are inextricably linked. I cannot live a peaceful life without mourning the cost of war even if it does not seem to affect me directly.

I don't support war. I know that can be a problematic statement. It does not mean that I do not support the armed services. I just do not support war as a political policy. I know that the issues are complex, but I do not believe that violence can ever truly end violence. It may be the easiest temporary solution. Certainly wars have been fought for valid reasons, but I do not believe that wars can really bring about peace. I know that most governments would prefer peace to war, but I think that some of them do not do the difficult work that is required in order to "wage peace."

I can't think of a single war that has brought long-term peace. World War II certainly ended some grave atrocities, but it also led directly to the Cold War, which led to many more lost lives all over the world (many of them ironically in ways eerily similar to the Holocaust). We are still reaping the consequences of our militaristic national policies back in the early part of the 20th century. I know the "War on Terror," is more than just an off-shoot of the World Wars, but I think that few people would deny the many connections between them.

For the last eight years, our nation has been waging two wars. There seems to be no real end in sight even though many politicians have promised we are "making progress." How do we measure the "progress" of war? Do we measure it by how many lives are lost, or do we measure it by how "peaceful" Iraq becomes? How can peace come during an eight year war? Even if we do achieve our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, objectives that have always been unclear to me at best, do we really believe that we will institute sustainable peaceful governments there. By showing the rest of the world that we use violence to solve our international disputes, don't we teach them that terrorism really is a viable option? War destroys infrastructures, destroys lives, destroys morals, and destroys morale. Aren't these the very conditions that lead to terrorism and more war?

I am a pacifist. That does not mean that I believe that America should back down from evil and oppression. It simply means that I believe we should not use war as a foreign policy. I do not know what the solution to terrorism is or how we can best achieve world peace, but I am sure that the answer is not war.

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