Truth and Meaning: War and Peace

Truth and Meaning: War and Peace

As a pacifist, I generally resist using war rhetoric and metaphors. So I am hesitant to claim that we are at war. I don’t mean Iraq or Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen, or the countless other American incursions across the globe.

We, each and every one of us in Michigan and in the United States, are at war — a domestic war for the soul of America. The enemy arrayed before us is vast and powerful. The forces we face include:

  • Greed — the belief that privatizing schools, prisons, even local government can produce anything other than corruption and abuse.
  • Misogyny — the conviction that women are primarily objects for the sexual gratification of men and disposable vessels for the unborn.
  • Homophobia — the assertion that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folk are damaged and dangerous and must be treated as subhuman.
  • Ignorance — the rejection of science and reason when they do not support blind faith, immediate gratification of needs and dogmatic views.
  • Indifference — the hopelessness of masses of people who feel powerless to stand up and fight for their self-determination.

The weapons of these enemies are diverse and include:

  • Arrogance — a petulant self-righteousness that allows them to stampede any opposing point of view and to stymie any attempt at rational discourse, compromise or legislation.
  • Wealth — endless finances devoted to corrupting politicians and influencing organizations to create the appearance of representing the voice of the people.
  • Violence — a cold and heartless worship of weapons; suppression of our basic freedoms of speech, religious liberty and assembly; and use of brute military force to answer all problems.
  • Hate — an evil attitude manifested from the belief that privilege equates to rightness; that rich, straight, white men control our nation because they are somehow inherently superior.

Sadly, we are at war. And we are losing the war. We are outmatched by our enemies’ resources, their willingness to resort to atrocities and their dedication to single-minded, simplistic courses of action. Is there hope? Do we, outgunned and seemingly outnumbered, stand a chance against such foes?

I have faith that we do. In his autobiography, Gandhi said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall.” Gandhi freed a nation from colonial rule without raising a gun, a hand, even his voice in anger. Martin Luther King Jr. freed a people with nothing more than words, energy and conviction. From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, the ways of truth and love have emerged victorious in our history.

In order to emerge victorious, we must have courage. We must transcend boundaries of belief and unite behind the power of reason and faith in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. And we must always act out of love. I dream of a day when we will all live in loving service to each other, in a place where we are united by our wondrous differences. I dream of a land where no one wants for basic needs; where greed, misogyny, homophobia, ignorance and indifference are banished; and all are free to pursue their heart’s dream free of hate and violence. I dream of total peace.