Most of us do not have mortal enemies. We are quite comfortable letting other people pursue their lives as they see fit. Live and let live would be an accurate summary. However, when it comes to war, our government presumes to tell us not only whom we should hate, but that we should actively support that hatred with our political support, our money, and the lives of our friends, family, and fellow countrymen in the killing of people who have as much right to be alive as we do.
But while the call to battle for a just war is always invoked, as it is practiced, it is more often than not a deception. George Bush famously said after 911 “you are either with us or against us.” This tribal thinking is exactly what the government counts on when it takes our country to war for bogus reasons, ulterior motives, and fabricated lies. Its justifications will sound lofty. We fight for our freedom, our way of life, for other freedom fighters, for international law, to topple dictators, to stop communism or fascism, or to stop them over there, before they come over here.
We must rise above the tribal thinking and presume a call to arms is unjustified until we can unemotionally assess real facts. It is our tax dollars that are being spent, our sons and daughters who are dying, and our international reputation that is often being undermined, all for no apparent advantage to the country. The people must lead the leaders.
The moral justification of defending oneself is correct and necessary. Pacifism isn’t the order of the day. Walking compliantly to the gas chambers is not a scenario any person or group should face. But a cavalier attitude about the use of force is immoral. To instinctively and reflexively justify the use of force against any country that opposes us is an arrogant, unthinking, and a lazy approach to determine when our nation is really threatened. Defending our liberties and lives is honorable. Fighting at times for international order may be necessary. But fighting, for the dominance of others or for corporate advantage, are acts of empire which are not worthy of a real Republic of freedom loving, peaceable, citizens.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
You have heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right check, turn to them the other cheek also.
– Mathew 5:38,39
People may oppose you, but when they realize you can hurt them, they’ll join your side.
A true Democratic Spirit is up there with religious faith and emotional maturity and all those other top-of-the-Maslow-Pyramid-type qualities that people spend their whole lives working on. A Democratic Spirit’s constituent rigor and humility and self-honesty are, in fact, so hard to maintain on certain issues that it’s almost irresistibly tempting to fall in with some established dogmatic camp and to follow that camp’s line on the issue and to let your position harden within the camp and become inflexible and to believe that he other camps are either evil or insane and to spend all your time and energy trying to shout over them.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
– Matthew 5:9
One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.