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Waging Peace

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ” -Martin Luther King, Jr

Rarely is the idea of creating a peaceful world described as an action verb- with  all the same understanding and intensity that we employ in waging war.   The idea of peace has this almost fairy tale feel, like it is something that would just descend on us or that we might find over a rainbow.   It has that kind of distant, sun drenched feel to it,  the feel good experience that the old versions of Coke commercials evoked “…I ‘d like to teach the world to sing….” Peace has always been painted as easy.

Coming across the work of Paul Chappell, who is a West Point graduate, veteran Army Captain/soldier and author of two books entitled, “Will War Ever End?” and “The End of War: Waging Peace Can Save Humanity, Our Planet and the Future”  has given me a new inspiration and hope about a world without war.

It was Albert Einstein who was first quoted as saying  that “A country cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” Paul takes this idea a step further by explaining how his military training actually was dedicated towards finding alternatives to war. But the alternative to fighting wars may well take as much time, resources and attention that we now put into creating war.

It is hard to imagine how we might spend the trillions of dollars now being spent on artillery and space-aged weapons that seem out of science fiction on the active waging of peace. How many trillions of dollars would it take to end the hunger and desperation that is at the root of the international insecurity that we are all defending against? How much education could be bought with those dollars so that people had access to the resources and solutions that motivated them to fight.

It wouldn’t be easy to wage peace. So many people wouldn’t trust the motives or would second guess the action plans that the armed peacemakers would create. It might take a generation or more for some international populations to open themselves up to the possibility of not needing to defend or attack. It might take thousands of hours to cultivate culture-wide practices of forgiveness.

Certainly, even among many families, related by children, marriage or blood, the work to wage peace is not easy. It takes practice to give people the benefit of the doubt. It takes concentration and love to inspire the best in others. We often don’t operate from this place that demands that love be treated like an action verb. Our willingness to forgive even in the most intimate of situations is often blocked inside of us in the deepest caverns of our hearts.

We don’t trust our hearts to be able to crack and heal. We refuse the messy work of relating. We don’t train in the arts of emotional resilience or the arts of effective communications. What if we paid for emotional intelligence the way we pay for the spying kind of intelligence now? It would probably cost as much to train a new elite to cut through the hurtful and mistrusting communications that lives between people.

Waging peace is a real job; like loving people. Soldiers with their capacity for around-the-clock labor, strong backs and devotion to service might be just the people to lead this new insurgency. I hope so, I might just have to join the army to help out.