Peace on Earth: By Tomorrow Afternoon
By Scott E. Roeben
Ever since the day when Man first discovered his ability to sharpen a stick and violently jab it into the thigh of his enemy, we have had conflict. As well as loud screaming.
But unlike those who feel it is an integral part of the human condition to be at war, I believe that peace is not all that difficult to attain if a sincere effort is made. This quest toward peace must begin with a harsh frontal attack against hatred, as well as a powerful bombardment of diplomacy and an obliteration of our most deep-seated propensity for unrest.
The differences between us can be conquered, but only if we first examine what they are.
Perhaps the largest of mankind's reasons for war has been "cultural differences." Cultural differences come about because people come from different places. If everyone lived in the same place, the line to get into the bathroom would be approximately 1,400 miles long. Since we cannot live in the same place, land and water separate us. This distance has caused us to develop differently over time. Our color is different, our food is different and some of us have large plates in our lower lips. Through time, we have developed diverse attitudes and ethics, but instead of appreciating these differences as things which make us unique, we use them as an excuse to shoot people. This phenomenon can best be expressed in a simple mathematical equation:
Skin color + humidity + politicians = war.
In order to end war due to cultural diversity, we must allow ourselves room for tolerance. (About four feet. Unless you turn it on its side.) As an example, let us say you are having a man from a Third World country over for dinner. By the way, the term "Third World" just serves to promote alienation, since it brings to mind a world other than our own, which creates images of small slimy creatures sucking the faces off college students whose only crime is that they rented a cabin for the weekend. At least it does for me.
So, you have a person from another culture over for dinner. Let us assume that you are serving burgers. Suddenly, your guest excuses himself and goes into the backyard. He then takes part in what many cultures describe as "projectile vomiting." (A practice which, by virtue of its universality, might someday be used as a means to bring different peoples closer together. Though, admittedly, under such circumstances, being a member of the diplomatic corps might not be as popular as it once was.) Come to find out, your guest believes that the cow is sacred. So, naturally, some of the hamburgers go to waste. And since lean beef does not grow on trees, you become angry and punch your guest in the eye. In some cultures, this is seen as an insult. Your guest becomes violent and dumps some Crystal Drano into your aquarium. You then set your guest's legs on fire, and your date leaves because she is upset, but more probably because she doesn't want to help with the dishes. See how quickly mere differences in our culture can escalate and make us do things we normally would not do unless we were participating in a fraternity hazing? We have to stop that.
Another problem that must be understood is that in our vast world, there are more than four religions. Perhaps many more. Religion has been the major cause of many of the Earth's most destructive wars, or at least the ones with the best costumes.
It is ironic that most of the world's religions tell their followers that love and honorable treatment are desirable, yet somehow Man manages to translate those positive messages into:
A) Keep others from looking at pictures of naked people.
B) Hold bazaars. In them, sell crafts such as ornaments made from Lifesaver rolls and pipe cleaners.
C) Murder is absolutely, positively without question wrong. Unless you do it in the name of God, that is.
Religion cannot be eliminated altogether, as it is a sociological needlike cable television. And like cable television, religion should endow us with tolerance toward the divergent choices which our world offers. We may not like what others say, or in this case, watch, but rather than feeling hate and resentment, we should merely turn the channel, or even better, settle down with a good book, preferably one about the adventures of scantily clad young women.
Religious differences are widespread, but the solution to the conflicts they engender is surprisingly simple. We have to stop that.
Another interesting cause of war on Earth has been human greed. Greed comes about when we are not satisfied with what we have. Or is that envy? Envy is when we want something someone else has, and so even when we get it, we are never satisfied. No, I'm sure that's greed. So, basically, what it comes down to is that those Seven Deadly Sins they're always talking about are really only six, since there's hardly any difference between two of them. And come to think of it, isn't Avarice one of those, too? I looked that up, and that means greed, too. And Gluttony, that's greed, it's just greed for food. Lust? Wanting something someone else has. Sloth? O.K., so the Seven Deadly Sins are really only Two Deadly Sins. I'm surprised no one has noticed this before. I'm inclined to blame it on the Federal Government.
So, now, greed can encompass many things. We can want a thing, or a place, or a person. Many years ago, in England for example, if the head of one kingdom fell in love with a woman of another kingdom (though God knows why, since I read somewhere that those women bathed only twice in their lifetimes), the man would start a war with that kingdom to impress her. (These days, telling a woman you're an attorney usually does the trick.)
Greed is a destructive but prevalent human weakness which has caused unmentionable suffering, though I guess, technically, since I mentioned it, it really can't be called "unmentionable" in the truest sense of the word. Nevertheless, as long as there is greed, there will be war.
We, as human beings, have to stop that.
Simple stupidity, that popular hobby of the "masses" is perhaps the primary reason war has existed for so long. It seems we cannot resist the lure of a charismatic leader or a brightly colored, well-designed flag. Combine those things with social unrest, economic plight and having nothing better to do, it seems we cannot wait to take up arms and rush to the nearest battlefield.
You see, the only real thing that allows war to happen is our continued willingness to wage it. Us. We. The little guys. The guys who don't have limousines or palaces, or axes to grind, or either of the Two Deadly Sins. You see, it has taken us awhile, but we've begun to figure out that the only thing that keeps us fighting is us.
And you know, we really have to stop that.
© Scott Roeben, 2000. All rights reserved.