A talk delivered at Memorial Day for Peace, May 28, 2012
Have we finished with war -- yet?
You who have risked and yet recovered your lives from the ugliness of war know better than any of us that we can no longer afford to use force to solve the world’s conflicts and competing interests. Together we will win the battle to shake out militarism from our culture. We will proclaim that war is our enemy.
Some will say “We’re wired for violence.” The spiral of revenge, an eye for an eye, is dynamic. But is it inevitable? What has revenge for the 9/11 attack on the US achieved? Over the past five centuries, countries that initiated wars have ended up losing them over 25% of the time, according to historian Stephen Pinker. We must find a new description for “winning.”
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, if not before, it has become clear that the US government isn't crazy about being at peace. We're nearly always at war with something: nations, drugs, even the abstract concept of "terror." A country founded on the conquest of the Native American population is restlessly paranoid in the absence of real or perceived threats. We appear to be uncomfortable if we don't have an enemy within our sights.