January 1, of the year 2008 of the Julian-Gregorian calendar will be just another day in the steady flow of time. Some will celebrate because it is customary, while others will rejoice in the ever present hope of renewal, but most of the teaming poor and dispossessed of the world will not notice it. The wars will go on as legalized murder. It will be yet another day of misery and deprivation.
Most people, across the globe, at least wish for peace on Earth and equity and justice for all. They are kind and considerate as individuals. But as a group, “us versus them”, we conveniently forget that it requires treating the distant “others” as we, the “us” would like to be treated. It is easy to find tortuous reasons to justify selfish interests, resulting in wars based on the worst of lies, the self serving lies that we tell ourselves. They propel us to support the politicians who lie most convincingly that killing neighbors or a people in far off lands is necessary to preserve our way of life.
Religions become the most convenient hand maiden of the propagandists, and we willingly with enthusiasm profane what we purport to hold sacred.
Eventually all wars do end, often with the exhaustion of all sides. In the past two centuries, the quantum growth in modern technology has provided unimaginable material conveniences. It has brought prosperity, but sadly there is even a greater growth in weapons to feed the wars; weapons that can be used without any danger to the user; impersonalized weapons.
In my name, with my taxes, a neighborhood full of people with similar dreams as mine, in a far off place, will be destroyed by a rocket delivered by a remote controlled plane, while I am celebrating the New Year festivities and talking of peace and goodwill. If confronted by the deception, the trite explanation will be “collateral damage”, or at best an oft repeated hackneyed phrase “Oops, a mistake for which we are extremely sorry.”
Ours is an age of information and instant communication. No technology can be secret for very long. Every weapon invented by an established government to oppress others in the name of crass nationalism will eventually leak out or are sold to those fighting the oppression, who after gaining power, in turn become oppressors.
The wars can not be fought or sustained unless the populace is duped into believing that the “ungodly other” or “beastly other” is trying to destroy them. The propaganda is self-sustaining and it grows until we are jolted after falling off the precipice.
Those who see injustice and keep quiet, end up being silent supporters of oppression. The "innocent" bystanders are no longer as innocent as they want to believe, especially in a democracy. If we do not object to our own government’s misdeeds at home and abroad, we are guilty, because in a democracy we are the government.
Many of us were not taken in by the lies of warmongers. We foresaw and wrote about the quagmire and destruction that the war would bring, but being right before a majority realizes the folly is perceived as a greater political folly. The strength of ethical principles and intellect is branded as weakness of brawn by the glib power seekers who keep trying to deceive the electorate by appealing to the baser instincts.
We need to speak in louder and clearer voices to inject backbones in politicians who want to be with the winning side. We also need to convince the popular media that people do want to hear the other side as well. It is not economically injurious. They do not need to imitate Fox news. Unless we do it in greater numbers, the malfeasances of the Bush administration in domestic policy and endless indiscriminate wars in the name of peace will continue to create more terrorists and wider wars.
The warmongers had their run. They have sown terrible death and destruction. They have the power of the latest weapons, but they suffer a great disadvantage. They have to be against others to be hegemonic. They thrive on hatred, pitting “us” against “them”.
The ideals of peace and of consideration of others as human beings may appear to be powerless, but they have one great advantage. They can unite across the false divide created by forces of ignorance and war. They extend a hand of friendship across the artificial rift. They can erase the dishonest division.
Let us make the year 2008 a watershed, when the 21st century emerges from the deathly clutches of the wars of the 20th century to claim its much needed place to unfold an era of peace in the flow of time