Take the High Road to Peace
By Rev. John Dear
Millions of Americans oppose war as a solution to our problems. Millions were opposed to Bush’s war in Iraq, and they remain opposed now to war as a way to bring peace to Iraq.
War never brings peace, it always sows the seeds for future wars. War can’t stop terrorism because war is terrorism and always breeds further terrorist attacks. ISIS is the natural consequence of 23 years of U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. Bombing ISIS will not work; it will only lead to further violence and death and turn more people against the U.S. Killing people who kill people is not the way to show that killing is wrong!
We have been bombing Iraq for 23 years, and killed over a million people, closer to 1.5 million, in Iraq. None of this warmaking has brought us closer to peace. Years ago, when I led a delegation of Nobel Peace Laureates to Iraq, the Catholic archbishop of Baghdad broke down sobbing and begged us: “Stop bombing Iraq. Please tell your nation that bombing us will only make things worse.” His sentiment is still true.
Most Americans are sick of our permanent warmaking economy, despite what government officials, Pentagon generals and their media tell us. If we want to end terrorism abroad, we have to end our own terrorist methods, dismantle our arsenals, abolish our terrorist nuclear weapons and use those trillions of dollars to end poverty, suffering, and global injustice, and promote nonviolent conflict resolution around the world.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed this was possible; it’s still possible, but it demands a new holistic approach and solution. Next Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people will march in the historic Climate March in New York City. I will join Bill McKibben and other friends to speak at the peace rally beforehand (at West 77th Street and Central Park West).
But that same day, International Peace Day, also marks the beginning of a week of actions across the nation called Campaign Nonviolence. Thousands of people will take to the streets in over 170 actions, events, marches and rallies in every state to speak out against war, poverty, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction and call for a new culture of peace and nonviolence. (Check out: www.campaignnonviolence.org)
We are against this war just as Dr. King was against the Vietnam War, and proposed a Poor People’s Campaign to fight injustice at home. With Dr. King, we oppose military spending, military solutions, weapons of mass destruction, and environmental destruction which hurts the poor, leave us bankrupt and threatens the climate. We want a new culture of peace and nonviolence which solves all problems nonviolently, and which gets at the root causes of terrorism, for the long haul solution of peace.
Americans need to speak out against military spending and ongoing warmaking, and call for nuclear disarmament and nonviolent solutions to the global crises. We need to build up the grassroots nonviolent movements of peace and justice and demand that our massive resources be used for human needs at home and abroad–to feed the hungry, house the homeless, give jobs, education and healthcare to everyone, and cut terrorism at its roots so that the world can disarm and become more nonviolent. That’s the way real, lasting change happens—from bottom up grassroots movements that transform the systems and crises of the day. Everyone of us is needed in this work of peace and nonviolent transformation. War is not the path to peace. It will never bring peace. Peaceful means are the only way to a peaceful future and the God of peace.
Thousands are taking to the streets in Campaign Nonviolence to call for these nonviolent responses and a new culture of peace and nonviolence. We want the long haul vision of peace and nonviolence which Dr. King envisoned, not the easy solution of the warpath—bombing and killing more people. That will not work.
Join the campaign of nonviolence, renounce violence, speak out against war, poverty and environmental destruction and take the high road to peace. That way, every step is peaceful and brings hope for real, positive change.
Rev. John Dear is the author of 30 books on peace and nonviolence, including most recently The Nonviolent Life. He is a coordinator of Campaign Nonviolence. www.campaignnonviolence.org. See: www.johndear.org