Friday, January 8, 2010

The Cost of Peace

"There is no peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war–at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake."  Daniel Berrigan  (from a longer blog found at,

I sit here barely awake after last night's Adventure in Nonviolence reading Berrigan's essay, wondering;  am I doing enough, can I do more, what am I willing to risk for the cause of peace?  Being a single parent means that my young daughter is impacted by my answers to these questions.  Yet I insist on being a model of what I believe is most important in this life, also for her sake.  I've considered the impacts of war tax resistance, incarceration, self selected poverty but I weigh carefully my desired goal against my action.  All of these are valid actions that I support.  But my goal is to build a community, a community that nurtures a growing culture of peace.  As I explore ideas, I invite others on the journey.  Education of ourselves and each other is key, not only theoretical learning, but experiential learning and practice of the methods of nonviolence.  How do we change ourselves and our world?  How do we open the hearts and minds of everyday Americans to the idea that peace is possible?  We do this through outreach.  We must share our ideas and our struggles.  Throughout our short history Americans have shown themselves to be committed to the ideas of peace, democracy and justice, yet today most people that I talk to in my day to day life just glaze over and stare blankly back when these words are uttered.  That's my goal, to see a light shine in the eyes of everyday Americans when the words peace and justice are mentioned.  To see immediately that we are all engaged in the struggle for a better world, not just the few peacemakers against the Goliaths of the corporate war machine.

It's easy to turn away from the difficult question of war but it's critical that we stop ignoring the monster that we've let loose in the world.  Apart from the moral and philosophical pondering, we are confronted by the economic reality that our entire industrial system spins on the government dollar.  People scream that they don't want the government involved in the private sector but the reality is that the government is already intertwined in every aspect of our world, both public and private.  The big $$ behind research and development is almost always signed by DoD or DoE, and these two are conjoined twins sharing the same twisted root system.  The biggest consumer of petroleum products in the world is the American military.  DoE is not going to push too hard for alternative energies while its twin is building war machines that require oil.  It's the procurement of crude that oils the mechanisms of war with human blood.  Once America decided to maintain a standing military it became necessary to support that bad habit, and the only way to continue to justify and support it is to continue to wreak more havoc in the world.  And since we're also a capitalist country, we might as well make a profit off of all the death and destruction while we're at it. 

I can't think of any one large corporation that is not somehow connected with the U.S. Government.  Those with close ties to our leaders get the big contracts to rebuild (ever so slowly) and extract resources (ever so quickly) from the countries we destroy.  They use our military to enslave the peoples of the lower half of the world's hemisphere to ensure a future of cheap labor.  Our tax money goes to the war machine, the profits and spoils of our ideas go to the war machine and of course our children's bodies and minds are required to feed this machine.  This reality, life's hard edged drama where in a flash thousands are killed, or left homeless and starving, is too much for most Americans to digest after a long day at work.  Hollywood and the world of professional sports provide the easy way out.  Better to watch and worry about the love lives of the rich and famous or go shoot a few hoops with the guys, or watch cars careen around a track, rather than to care about who we're bombing today or about how to change that.

Jane Goodall said, "Only if we understand, can we care.  And only if we care will we help."

I may not be able to make the great sacrifices that the Berrigan brothers have to peace, but I will give all my energy, love and care for those who can make such sacrifice.  I will continue to read, learn, share and listen to my heart.  What is love calling you to do?  What price are you willing to pay for peace?

No comments: