By Jim Matthews
We are constantly in the business of war.
We spend huge amounts of money on war or the prospect of war. I recently read about the cost overruns of various military projects in the United States. These were planes, ships and other projects. Although these costs were in the billions of dollars, how much longer before we are talking about projects costing trillions of dollars?
And who is this “we?” Even small nations have purchased from the United States, China or Russia — a plane or ship or whatever else helps them feel they will be able to defend their nation. So, it is an endeavor that spans the globe.
So, what is the alternative? Is there an alternative? Our record as human beings suggests there is not. I have to believe there is. I have to believe human beings can do better.
So what is our record? Going back through human history, we have persistently done battle with one another. One group or another has always been in some kind of altercation.
Besides our current conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, we have the prospect of war between North and South Korea and the United States, and between the U.S. and Russia. There are likely wars going on I do not know about and the possibility of war I know nothing about.
Are we doomed to repeat this for the rest of human history? I hope not. I have to believe humanity has the capacity to find other ways to resolve conflict.
I do believe conflict is inevitable. We see that in human interaction on a smaller scale. I get annoyed with a family member and, if we are not careful, a conflict breaks out. But it is a verbal conflict. At the end of that conflict, we agree to be more gentle and give each other some time to cool off. We might also spend some time discussing ways to resolve the issue in the future.
And in that is the seed for solving our conflicts among nations. First, we have to take war off the table. Physical confrontation is not accepted in healthy families nor in healthy worlds.
Then we need to agree to talk about a way to resolve the problem. We might need to agree to a cooling-off period. It might be helpful to bring in another country or governing body to help set rules for resolving the issue. And then there must be work until the conflict is resolved.
There might be leaders and nations that are not amenable to resolving a conflict. If this is true, I would hope a short period of armed conflict until the people not amenable to peace are either brought to agreement or are stopped from further action. This condition should be the exception.
I know a history of armed conflict is going to be difficult to bring to an end. I know it is going to be thought of as out of our reach.
But I have to believe we should try.
Jim Matthews is a longtime resident of Greenfield. Send comments to email@example.com.