Waging Peace

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 18 March 1966. (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto)

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 18 March 1966. (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto)

Inspector “Beauvoir knew that the root of all evil wasn’t money. No, what created and drove evil was fear. Fear of not having enough money, enough food, enough land, enough power, enough security, enough love. Fear of not getting what you want, or losing what you have.” Louise Penny, The Beautiful Mystery (New York: Minotaur Books, 2012), p. 159.

Fear of losing what we want or have is the root of evil that leads to murder, at least in Louise Penny’s novel. Likewise, we are driven to war, Paul Chappell believes, by our insecurities.

“War propaganda tells people they are fighting for a noble cause in defense of their family, country, or an ideal.” It plays on our insecurities. “The war system is a master of deception,” Chappell maintains, “and one of its biggest illusions is that war is needed to make us safe.” Far from making us safe, the war on terror has created more problems than it has solved. “Our greatest enemy is war itself” [The Art of Waging Peace (Westport, CT: Prospecta Press, 2013), pp. 170, 250, 113].

Waging peace makes more sense than waging war. It is a more effective way to combat terrorism and, unlike the hypocrisy of the war state, it does not violate the nation’s noble ideals of freedom, democracy, justice, and opportunity.

Waging peace is combat of a different kind. It is a mental martial art in the realm of ideas. It combats hatred, greed, deception, apathy, ignorance, and misunderstanding. It promotes empathy and respect for others. It requires discipline, training, and strategy.

Peace warriors confront the dominant war system at a disadvantage. They are the underdog. They must outwit the forces of violence to advance a more effective security paradigm. They address problems by actually practicing democracy rather than resorting to violence in the name of democracy. Democratic persuasion is their weapon.

What do peace warriors advocate to replace the war paradigm?

A foreign policy based on respect—one in which the U.S. embraces freedom, democracy, and justice and leads by example in an interconnected world.

Waging peace by attending to the underlying problems that cause violent conflicts, problems such as poverty and lack of opportunity.

Strengthening international law against dictatorships and corruption rather than hypocritically supporting brutal dictatorships in the name of spreading democracy and protecting freedom.

Supporting international police work to combat terrorism as a crime instead of invading countries.

This is the struggle Chappell envisions to engage and ultimately defeat the war system, a struggle in which perseverance is vital to win the war of ideas and establish a new paradigm of security.

The long-established war system is a goliath that would defeat peace warriors by making them feel hopeless and cynical. Peace warriors persevere by strengthening the muscles of their humanity—their empathy, conscience, discipline, and commitment to liberty, democracy, and justice. They practice what they preach. These are their life skills. They protect their homeland by recognizing that the well being of their country is linked to the well being of the rest of the world.

RLI

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