Oh, man. Following the great tradition of fixation upon harebrained ideas hatched during periods of pondering — ever have a conversation with a stoned guy about how awesome the universe is, bro? — the Star‘s Lewis Diuguid has completely solved all the nation’s (nay, the world’s!) problems with today’s column. Lewis D, seemingly without a trace of irony or tongue-in-cheekitude, suggests that our highest lawmaking body create — yes, seriously — a Department of Peace. Seems Dennis Kucinich Lewis thinks the massive new bureaucracy could be responsible for finding nonviolent solutions to pressing problems. Um, Lewis? You know this would never, ever work, right? And that ideas like these are what make it easy to caricature the left as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky hippies? Yeah, you’re not doing us any favors here. In fact, let’s just take this line by line.
Lewis kicks off his column with a bold declaration:
In words and in deeds, people in this country struggle with peace.
Yeah, I guess. But probably not as much as people in, say, Darfur? Zimbabwe? Afghanistan?
Peace has to be more than the absence of war, fighting, strife and violence.
Peace should never be an alternative. It must be the only solution for conflicts, controversies and differences. Making peace the pinnacle is the path to true peace.
Wait, what? “Making peace the pinnacle is the path to true peace”? Are we speaking in bumper stickers now?
Such thoughts surfaced this month at the “From Pain to Peace” service at the Community Christian Church commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy.
Explaining the Buddhist tradition, Ray Porter said peace is not independent of us. Each of us has the capacity to live in peace.
Fully applied, peace helps us to be more productive.
Oh, great: reference the Buddhist tradition. Yeah, because that will make it harder to pillory this as just another liberal rant.
Peace takes a back seat to guns. The United States has expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier.
A congressional study released this month showed that the U.S. signed weapons agreements worth $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms market. That was up from $25.4 billion the previous year.
So is the problem guns or some kind of inner peace dearth? You’re kind of switching back and forth here. Besides, guns have been around for a couple of centuries now — are they really what’s causing the lack of peace? And if we want to reduce this to economics, one could note that the weapons industry is leading to peace for an awful lot of employees and their families. Note also that this spending also includes necessary tools of war and things like Predator drones.
Data released last week by the FBI showed that murder and manslaughter dropped nearly 4 percent in 2008 nationwide, but the murder rate in Kansas City increased 28 percent.
This year has the potential to be worse unless peace becomes the dominant force reversing black-on-black and poor-on-poor crimes.
To be sure, violence is a concern in KC. But how does one make the vague concept of peace the dominant force in the urban core? People need jobs, stability, opportunities — simply arguing that an abstract Taoist notion will solve problems is ludicrous at best and disingenuous at worst.
Peace lets us learn and benefit from others’ love, hope, faith and kindness.
Peace offers better ways for people to work together, prosper together and get along.
How people communicate is important. Unfortunately, our language is filled with violence. Such words fill our music, television shows, news, video games, movies, the Internet and other media.
Violence fills some of the language, yes. But what about our country’s renowned devotion to faith? If we are to believe surveys showing that nine-tenths of the American population prays once a week, shouldn’t some of that counter this allegedly pervasive violence? The problem doesn’t seem to be lack of peace — it appears to be a misdirection of efforts. If you want to see positivity, check the late-night religious shows on local television. Why doesn’t religion — nominally the home court of peace and harmony — play a role here?
Abolishing violence will be more difficult than ending slavery because violence is such an institutional and widespread problem. Violence is how this country was settled, how it spread from coast to coast and became a superpower.
Abolishing violence? You’re just kidding now, right? Let’s be honest here: violence is how every superpower became such. The Mongols. The Romans. The British. Look back upon the spread of empires and their ensuing power, and you’ll find a history of violence. Geopolitical struggles are based upon violence, and always have been. You’re also deeply underestimating just how institutional slavery was; it was a crucial component of the American lifestyle for decades, and was the foundation of our emergent economic power.
Peace offers a better way. But the United States has to take steps to overcome violence. The first step is for Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to sign legislation creating a cabinet Department of Peace. It would provide people with examples of best practices in solving all conflicts through nonviolent means.
Um. Surely you jest, sir. Exactly what would this D.O.P. be charged with doing? Could you find enough washed-up flower children to staff it? If we really need such a department, then why do we have the Office of Faith-based Initiatives? Why do we send billions every year to various agencies and nonprofits to do exactly what you describe? Look, Lewis: we voted for Obama. All of us. But suggesting a new federal department to advance some nebulous code of harmony is, quite simply, laughable. In addition to creating unnecessary bureaucracy, it plays right into the hands of conservative critics. “Oh, look at the libs!” they’ll say. “Always throwing more government at a problem!” And where do you suggest we get the funding for this new department In This Economy? No, let me guess: cut defense spending?
We haven’t even touched upon the failures of “peace theory” in the terrorism struggle. We’re all for peace and cooperation, but do you grasp the threat of terrorism? There are people willing to blow themselves up in a crowded area, just to kill as many innocent people as possible — and they’re convinced it’s actually the right and blessed thing to do. How do you suggest we deal with these people? Sit them down with a local Buddhist named Ray and regale them with tales of Gandhi and MLK? What’s next — suggesting that we start a 12-step program for peace?
Like alcoholics and drug addicts, we need a 12-step program toward overcoming violence.
Wow. Sorry, Lewis, but these ideas are terrible. Peace is great, but acknowledging the conflicts within and between people is also great, because it allows us to actually deal with problems. This column sounds like every conversation every campus activist and incense enthusiast has ever had, while they pass the time between Phish concerts and Chomsky essays. In the end, nothing is accomplished.