(This blog was written by my friend Jake, another one of the Twelve.)
Today is the International Day of Peace. Based on a U.N. Resolution in 1982, “Peace Day” is gaining increased recognition worldwide. There are events, activities and celebrations. But even more important, there are lives being saved. This year, believe it or not, tens of thousands of soldiers took a break from killing: the Taliban, NATO and U.S. forces pledged to a cease-fire on this day.
As U.S. coalition spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Joel Peavey said, "It's crazy, but apparently the Taliban sent out an e-mail saying they were going to abide by it if we were, and we definitely are," he said. "It's a great day to show Afghans exactly what peace is like and how their everyday life would be if they just booted out the bad guys." While I think this fellow still needs to work a bit on his message—how is booting out the bad guys an act of peace?—it’s a start.
So then, if they’re cooling their heels over there in Afghanistan, what can we do to commemorate the spirit of this day?
We could also stop for a minute and consider how peace works. Is it something from outside that we find? Or is it something that we create?
We have all heard the teachings to love our enemies. But what does that mean? Does it mean rolling over, not ever fighting back, no matter what happens? Does it mean tough love, forcing our enemies to wake up (as we’ve got it all figured out), for their own good? Or does it mean opening the door to a completely new outcome?
I watch kids playing and they can, in one minute, escalate to insane levels of argument. Just as quickly, however, their struggle can be defused. How? By introducing another element into the conflict.
Imagine if we implemented this strategy on a global level. Imagine if we worked together to form a coalition of peaceful nations that had the ability—with multiple forms of leverage—to offer a better incentive to struggling nations than bloodshed.
In too many cases, the United Nations lacks the will and ability to act quickly. Nor does it have the mandate or financial resources to buy peace deals. It can’t just offer early retirement to a terrible dictator, removing him from the scene so that his country can begin to heal. It can’t broker peace between rival tribes fighting over scarce resources. Why not? Because the largest part of its’ sponsoring nations’ budgets are spent on war.
This doesn’t work. And it isn’t working. In the United States alone, more than half of the 2008 budget was dedicated to the military. All in all, close to FIVE HUNDRED BILLION dollars.
Now imagine if the United States changed policy, turned around and paid off its debt to the United Nations. This is currently somewhere around 1.7 BILLION dollars. Do you think it might give the U.N. a bit more bargaining power?
I mean, Peace Day is cool and all. But can’t we have a Year of Peace? How about a Century of Peace?