One of my “back door gratitudes” from last year’s election - and this past week’s threat/counter threat around nuclear weapons - is that I am/we all are forced to recognize the deep shadow of the threat of nuclear war - and war in general.
I am not grateful, of course, for the cavalier attitude that a nuclear war is even still part of the MAD (mutual assured destruction) political posturing. It’s just that I wanted so much to convince myself that that danger was under control or at least in need of immediate attention. What I am grateful for is that we are now forced to address this threat for real again - “locked and loaded” for “fury and fire” demands our attention.
I spend a lot of time thinking about war and the evil, immorality and horror that it creates. But it is also easy to dismiss war as one of those topics “too big to think about.” So we don’t. Meantime over half of our national discretionary budget is spent on the Pentagon related to war. And yet it continues to slip under the radar of reality and accountability even as the war economy grows more pervasive and continues to undermine our way of life financially and morally. Most of us really don't want to contemplate living in an oppressive military empire, but that’s our reality. We are told the Pentagon budget is justified because it establishes “national security.” But instead we live in fear created by the impression that there is always a serious threat to this “security” that needs to be countered, and we never believe - I think accurately - that we are really safe. So now the "perpetual war" that has mostly only directly affected those in the military and their families has become more real for the rest of us with the scary recognition that the possibility of nuclear war would impact us all.
News last week often just seemed like schoolyard bullying and pompous threats from insecure men willing to sacrifice others for their grandiose self-image. But all the bluster brings the issue of war from a fuzzy picture into stark, focused reality. I think, “How dare they talk like that! How dare they risk the planet for their petty egos and political advantage?” But that has always been the reality for those who push for war. This past year was the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, the “war to end all wars,” and we hardly paid attention. If we would have given it deep notice we would have learned about the naive self-importance of those who chose to go to war, assured as they were it would be a romp and over in weeks. Instead it was horror upon horror of carnage beyond belief. And this past week we commemorated the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, again, horror beyond imagination. War is unthinkable to a sane and informed mind and human soul.
I am not encouraged that humanity, especially most political leadership, really understands the cost and futility of war, unless they have experienced it first hand. Maybe the threat of an atomic war created by the rhetoric of the past week can once again animate the call to prevent war, and for its abolition altogether.
I am hopeful that the threat of war will ignite flickers of responsible political leadership calling for a Department of Peace with a cabinet position. I am encouraged that there are those in government and non-governmental groups that are building a citizen-based Prevention and Protection Working Group,"a coalition of human rights, religious, humanitarian, anti-genocide, and peace organizations dedicated to improving U.S. government policies and civilian capacities to prevent violent conflict, avert mass atrocities, and protect civilians threatened by such crises." The group thus far has been instrumental in supporting the creation of the Complex Crises Fund, Atrocities Prevention Board, and the State Department’s Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations. (For more information see https://www.fcnl.org/about/policy/issues/peacebuilding/prevention-and-protection)
Is it possible that our species can learn about the horror of war without experiencing yet another “war to end all wars" - that literally might be the “war to end all wars?” Can there somehow be a radical shift to peace building because humanity finally realized that war is no longer a rational or practical reality if the planet is to survive?
As I have written before, I know that the abolition of war is possible, just as the abolition of slavery was possible against all odds. But “possibility" favors the prepared. I am prepared to support all those who work to prevent war and to oppose every war. I am aware many across the globe share the conviction that the abolition of war is a needed movement and even a requirement. Join me in imagining, in preparation, and in the conviction that the abolition of war is possible.
P.S. If you are interested in national and international groups working to abolish war, here are a couple of websites to check out:
http://www.abolishwar.org.uk/, http://worldwithoutwar.com/, http://worldbeyondwar.org/