Some hard questions

Ken Homer


This is a tough time to be working for Peace. It really brings out people's unconscious assumptions, as though when one says: "I am taking a stand for Peace "that means one condones evil and brands one a spineless coward who can't see that the extremist factions in the world can only be stopped by violent force. I reject this assessment. I believe one can be a stand for Peace, non-violence and compassion and still support the achievement of justice and the suppression and disarming of those who are so divorced from the community of life as to be able to destroy it in senseless acts of terrorism. Bombing (surgical or otherwise) is not producing the desired outcomes of destroying either the Taliban or evil. I have my doubts that it will achieve the first aim and I am certain it will never achieve the second. And the side effects of the bombing (collateral--read dead civilians--damage, adding to the image among those being bombed that the USA is "The Great Satan", and the resulting ease of recruiting more soldiers to fight against us, the weakening of our support by other nations, the ecological devastation, to name just a few) further illustrate the failure of the policy. Clearly we need another way.

Just what it will be I can not say. I think it will be not "an"-other way but many other ways. And each of these other ways will come into being through small groups of people talking about what matters most to them. For that is how things have always changed. In a world with multiple countries of varying political stability and vastly different approaches to governing, each having access to nuclear weapons all on hair trigger alert and aimed at every major population center on the planet can we afford this new war? What assurances do we have that it will not escalate into a nuclear confrontation? Any idea how much weapons grade plutonuim is floating around the globe unaccounted for in the ledger books? How long before a lunatic gets his hands on suitcase full and boards the subway in any major city of the world, thinking it is his trip to paradise? Is dropping bombs on Afghanistan going to prevent such a scenario or make it more likely?

It is time to sit down together and ask some really hard questions. Questions like what does it mean to be human? What is our responsibility to each other? (Both as individuals, and as countries particularly those of us who have great wealth, and how we hold and treat those who have great poverty) Do we have a responsibility to leave the planet in a habitable form for our descendants?

If all the world's religious and spiritual traditions say that we are One, then don't we need to find ways to ensure that some subset of the many doesn't destroy the One embodied in the many, in their quest to prove that their Oneness is the right Oneness? Wouldn't one pretty good way to ensure that doesn't happen be to ensure that everyone had adequate means to live in dignity? Poverty and humiliation are fertile breeding grounds for fundamentalists and extremeism.

Questions like: Can capitalism possibly remain the central organizing principle for life on Earth in the 21st century? (Especially when the biggest "winners" in a capitalist system are those industries that do the most harm to the life: Weapons, Oil, Autos, etc.) How much longer can we ignore the signs of wide-spread breakdown in virtually every major system--at nearly every level: social, political, economic, biospheric, etc., with the assurance that the "experts" are working on it and it will all be handled by those who know best, and we should just go about our business as normal?

I have no definitive answers to any of those questions. I do know that they are not being asked frequently enough and in enough circles among enough people. I believe that the value of them is to be found in asking them and then collectively living our way into the various forms an answer would take. So please turn off he TV and turn to each other, have folks over for diner and ask them what is important to them now? Don't worry about not having answers, just start asking questions!

May Peace Prevail on Earth,

Ken (khomer@igc.org)

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Date created: 10-May-04