October 23, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)


Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

Ambrose Bierce

I remember a song from my childhood: "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be my pride and joy. Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder, to kill some other mother's darling boy? ......There'd be no war today if mothers all would say, I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier."

As a naive child, I truly believed that it was possible to have a world without war. It wasn't too many years after that wave of pacifism that World War II started. Pacifism was forgotten, to be replaced by patriotism.

I no longer believe that peace is possible as long as we live in a world populated by people. The most that can be hoped for is that the wars will be small and that there won't be too many deaths. Yet, inside of my brain is that little boy who truly believed that a permanently peaceful world is a real possibility.

At the root of wars are fanatically held beliefs in things that are totally irrational, and economic considerations, mainly money and land. W.W.II was sparked by the fanatical followers of Adolph Hitler and the fanatics in Japan's military establishment. However it was not those villains and their associates who were responsible for the carnage of World War II, but the majority of people in their respective countries. Sure, there were a number of people who thought that Hitler was a madman, but they were a small number compared to those who thought that he was God's gift to the world.

I once thought that only fools would follow a madman like Hitler. That was not so. He had a substantial amount of support from the faculties of the German universities and most of the management of German industry. War is good for business everywhere. After the war was over, you couldn't find a Nazi in all of Germany. They had all miraculously disappeared.

After Osama bin Laden has been captured , killed or died a natural death, we will all go back to leading our normal lives until the next group of madmen succeed in circumventing our impenetrable security and blowing up some large building or city, and killing a large number of people. In the intervening time between horrors, we will have such events as children killing their classmates and teachers. Evil has always been with us and it will continue. The best that anyone can hope for is that it will not touch him and his directly.

What I am saying is that the utopian vision of a permanently peaceful world is an illusion. Its believers are good people who have not read enough history, nor looked objectively at their own society.

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