a few days ago, as i read johan maurer's "can you believe" blog, his review of to end all wars by adam hochschild caused me to think of some of the wars now raging around the world: of syria, iraq, sudan/southern sudan, somalia. afghanistan--of the tensions in thailand, pakistan, and ukraine/russia--of the "war on terror"--of all the violence we commit against each other--of the futility of trying to control how others act, think, dress, believe, love. what is it about our species that motivates us to engage in so many futile actions aimed at taking control, when ultimately the control we seek to impose is impossible?
as we look back in horror at the first world war and the preciptating event that occurred 100 years plus a few days ago, we can see the horrendous loss of life, the disruption of the lives of millions who were affected by the war, and the end of the war that planted the seeds that led to the second world war. in hindsight, it is easy to ask how we could have become embroiled in conflict on such a huge scale, but those who marched most of the western world off to that awful quagmire didn't have the luxury of hindsight. the only movement that could have kept the world from involvement in the slaughter was the peace movement, those who cried unheeded.
now we hear the drumbeat of war again: voices urging us to return to iraq, to intervene in syria, to do something to protect ukraine (though what that "something" is, no one can say). what do we say to those who are suffering in these places so far removed from our experience? how do we ease their suffering? will sending more of our young men and women off to die make their lives better? the only thing that makes sense is for wars to end, for human beings to finally stop fighting one another in the futile effort to control one another.
is absolute pacifism the answer? God only knows, but right now it seems a better answer that what we've tried as a species since the first weapon was used to take another's life. may we choose peace over war, tolerance over the desire to impose control, and love over hate. may there be peace on earth. shalom.