Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why war?

On the day when President Obama went over to Oslo to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize, I was thinking about war and peace and violence in general. The skeptics are right to question whether the leader of a violent country like the US is qualified to receive the prize; especially when we are involved in two wars that we started. But the other side is that President Obama didn’t start the wars, and he appears to be trying to get us out of them, though not very whole heartedly. That may not be ideal qualifications for the Nobel Peace Prize, but not many others seem to be doing much better.

In a bigger concept, violence on any level is just the ultimate failure to communicate. Whether it is the punk on the street frustrated with not being able to get a job, to nations feeling like they have somehow been violated, violence is always rooted in poor communication.

The kid who feels like nobody cares about him or understands him will turn to violence to make his point. Groups of people opposed to everything from abortion to “infidels” sometimes turn to violence because they think that the world is not listening to their concerns. Responses and tit for tat quickly lead to gang wars and wars between nations. Jesus said, “If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek.” Instead most people and nations believe that standing up for our “rights” is more important than stopping violence.

Perhaps we should rename the State Department the “Department of Peace” to remind them that that is their job. War is always the result of failed diplomacy. If the Department of Peace (State, or Foreign Ministry as most countries call it) received as much funding as the Department of Defense, the world would be a completely different place. And by the way, the War Department’s named was changed to Department of Defense to remind them they are defensive not an offensive group, but I’m not sure it has helped. I can’t even name all the wars that we have fought in just my life time.

Perhaps the Nobel committee was doing a little wishful thinking, or maybe they realized that with the Nobel Prize for Peace sitting on his desk, that President Obama might see the opportunity he has to actually advance world peace in this decade. But peace doesn’t start with the Department of Defense; it starts with the State Department. Peace ends with the Department of Defense.