I have many emotions that run through me around the celebration of Memorial Day each year. They have been growing more intense these past years.
War is not unusual. Conflict between people is as old as history. Acting for survival is as basic as our reptilian brain. Religious writings, including the Bible, remind us of our tendency, if not inclination, to appeal to a more primal mode of existence. Kill or be killed is not only the law in the wild but also the law of the wild.
The greatest minds throughout history have spent as much time, if not more time, developing ways to defeat a human foe than to correct a human flaw. From cave men with clubs and rocks, to swords and spears, to muskets and cannons, to bombers and tanks, to smart bombs and nuclear missiles, we have found a quicker and more impersonal way of eradicating an enemy.
Today, we can destroy an adversary across the globe and watch it on a screen as if it were a television program or a video game. I conclude that our technology has developed faster than our morality.
This brings me to acknowledgement of a point. History and technology have brought me to a practical decision that is it imperative that we find a path to co-existence, if not peace. This is not an anti-military point of view or even a pacifist stance. It is simply to acknowledge that the human condition and the capacity that the human race has to destroy itself brings us to a point of being face to face with the greatest enemy, ourselves.
One of the most important quotes about problem solving I have heard is from Albert Einstein. He said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If we are to find paths to peace and ways of living peacefully, it seems we will need to change how we see the world and each other.
Our morality and our thinking must become as advanced as our technology. Creation and people are not expendable commodities to be used or destroyed. The new mindset sees community to be more important than an individual and the welfare of all of earth’s citizens will take precedence over the desires of one.
If we do not find a way to do this, I fear another of Einstein’s quotes will come to pass: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” That is, if anything or anyone is left.
This weekend we will pause to remember the men and women who have stood in harm’s way, remembering those who have risked or given their lives. I will especially give thanks for those who fought and died next to my father on Iwo Jima and in WWII.
I know I would not be here today without their sacrifice and bravery. Lt. Gen. (retired) Hal Moore said, “Hate war, but love the American warrior!” I suppose every country has said the same thing of its warriors. I can say so of those who have kept the peace through military service to my country.
My son and others currently in the military will be near my heart and on my mind, too. I will pray for him, them and for those on both sides of the battle lines. I pray that one day soon we will beat our swords into plow shares, our spears into pruning hooks, our tanks into tractors and our silos will not hold missiles to take life but grain to give it.
I pray that one day we will have a holiday to commemorate a global declaration to end war and celebrate how we found a new way of thinking and acting. I pray for peace.