Thursday, March 24, 2011

Study Peace

March marks the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and we have not completed that war.  In October, we will have 10 years at war in Afghanistan, and we have yet to begin the draw down of combat operations there.  The total cost of these wars is above $1.16 trillion and counting, over $700 million a day by conservative estimates. It is millions more if considering all the associated costs of maintaining the military industrial complex and repairing the damage caused by war.  Leaving aside for a moment the social and moral costs of war, can we afford this kind of expense when we have such looming unsolved economic problems here?  

Consider health care so costly that many of our citizens can’t afford it even with the Affordable Health Care Act that is under threat, state budgets in so much trouble they are threatening massive layoffs and cuts in essential social services and infrastructure to avoid bankruptcy, a national debt that exceeds $14 trillion, rampant and uncontrolled greed in our financial institutions that caused a massive recession and that show no signs I have seen of reforming or being reformed, an environment increasingly at risk, increased taxes on the lower middle-class while taxes are cut for the most wealthy.   No, we can’t afford the mounting costs of resorting to war to resolve our security problems and international disputes. 

And now--war in Libya!?!

We study and learn the practice of war.  We pour our best resources into improving our military capability.  Imagine what would happen if we began to draw down our commitment to war and turned those abilities and resources to learning and practicing peaceful conflict resolution.  For that we need moral commitment from citizens and institutions together.  A better, more peaceful world will not happen only by individuals just improving themselves, though that is a good and necessary thing to do.  But then, like Buddha, or Christ, or Mohammed, the individual needs to take some responsibility for improving the world. 

©Alice Bolstridge, 2011. 
A pre-Libya version of this post was published as a Letter to the Editor
in The Star Herald, Presque Isle, Maine, 2-16-2011.

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