Recently I participated in a dedication ceremony for a “Peace Pole”. The multi-sided pole states in several languages our mutual hope for peace in our world. In our small community we have many of these symbols of peace, scattered in various locations where they serve as a reminder of what is important.
Throughout this country there is a disappointing sense that peace is so illusive, that to pursue it is a fool’s errand”, or not “cost-effective” or it would wreak havoc on our “military industrial complex”! Somehow, along the way, we have lost that very important guiding principle that was once so powerful that it caused the birth of our country! Freedom without peace, or peace without freedom — neither one works until they are joined.
Memorial Day was just a couple of weeks ago. Not so much a celebration as a commemoration, the remembering and honoring those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Since the Revolutionary War, America has been involved in more than 60 wars, not counting expeditions and campaigns, and conflicts with strange names such as Sheepeater, or White River, or Pine Ridge, and the list goes on.
But it is the price of war that should be of concern to us. Casualties of the Civil War, our most costly war, numbered in excess of 750,000! Now, here we are faced with still another threat just as we work to close the door on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where our casualties, as of this month, numbered 6,820! How can we even consider stepping back into that Mideast conflict, a conflict that has been unresolved for centuries! “Casualties” is such a dehumanizing word…instead think of the blood of our young people, maybe your son or daughter! How many generations lost? How much talent lost? How much creativity lost?
I saw firsthand the ravages of war in Korea. My 19-year-old mind was overwhelmed by what I saw when we landed at Inchon Harbor and traveled in convoy to our base not far from Kaesong Dong on the south edge of the DMZ. The people, the countryside, the towns destroyed. I grew up during my time in Korea, with images that were hard to get out of my mind.
The reality is that we have been and still are a warring nation. We just can’t seem to stay at peace for very long. Our reasons for going to war always seem plausible at the time and at other times we are mislead. One has to wonder how long this nation can continue to be the world’s peacekeeper? It is costing us our most important asset, our young.
So for me it was easy to participate in that dedication of the Peace Pole. This particular Peace Pole carries six languages: English, Hebrew, Greek, Dutch, Korean, and Vietnamese. Both Hebrew and Greek represents the language of the Old and New Testament and of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Dutch, the language of the Netherlands where refugees found protection from war and religious persecution before they came to America. Korean and Vietnamese, each representing a nation torn by war where so many of our young people died and from which many refugees came to live in America.
We need to think about how we move toward peace, as a tangible, substantive goal, and seek to find ways to use the energy and the resources of this country toward that most important goal. We know that the price of war is too high, and there is so much value in this nation establishing itself as a “wager of peace”! This is a road we should choose.
For what Its Worth.