Press Clip Source: NewsDeeply
Date: November 13, 2018
Link to sourceHere.

Editor’s note: This commentary is by John Reuwer, MD, who is adjunct professor of Conflict Resolution at St. Michael’s College and a member of the coordinating committee of World Beyond War

 

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. At least that was the motivation for countless young men to leave their farms, factories, families and lovers to climb into rat and lice infested trenches waiting to go over the top into machine gun fire or poison gas. The horror of 40 million military and civilian dead and maimed, along with the grisly deaths of more than 20 million more people from the Spanish flu spread by the war, led to a great celebration of its end by declaring Armistice Day as an embrace of peace.

When it became obvious that war was not actually a good way to end war, but predictably led to World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the nuclear arms race, the United States changed the day to Veterans Day to honor those who fight. While honoring soldiers who face danger to protect something is laudable, it is not altogether benign. The danger of honoring veterans without honoring peace is that it becomes little more than a recruiting tool to prepare the next generation for war. Is that what we want?

War may have been necessary in the past, but in this age of instantaneous communication, interdependance of economies, and weapons of mass destruction, war is obsolete. If allowed to continue, it can only lead to the destruction of human progress and the planet, at first slowly by draining the resources needed to address serious human problems, and ultimately by mass death and destruction by nuclear holocaust. This would be particularly tragic because better alternatives are available in the rapidly progressing fields of modern conflict management, peacebuilding strategies, and nonviolent actions with proven records of mitigating aggression and political violence.

The best way to honor veterans is to prevent the recurrence of what they had to endure, and embracing positive alternatives

It is time to stop putting guns and other weapons into the hands of youth all over the world, and employ their energy and idealism to work saving our future — rescuing people from fires, earthquakes, floods and famines, fighting epidemics, cleaning up toxic waste sites, building infrastructure, reforesting the planet, restoring lakes and oceans, and researching solutions to the problem of human violence. For those who want to directly confront “bad guys” who are harming others, there are exciting new options such as the Nonviolent Peaceforce, and Violence Interrupters. The alternatives to war are there — the choice is ours.

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