The Brutal Truth of War and Peace

22 Sep The Brutal Truth of War and Peace

War’s drumbeat is relentless. It rings across continents, disquieting the minds of those tortured by its chime. Peace is war’s shy counterpart, a fleeting mirage intangible to those ignorant of its unforgiving secret.

More than seven decades ago, world powers engaged in man’s fiercest conflict. One that saw unimaginable horrors, from the gassing of countless Jews in Auschwitz to the incineration of nearly a quarter-million civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at its close.

Nine years ago, I embarked on months of research to study the perception of the Japanese residents in Hawaii during 1937, just before the Second Sino-Japanese War and the start of the Pacific Theatre.

Spring brought the hope of peace, but like Amelia Earhart in 1937, that hope was lost after Pearl Harbor. The following year heralded Chamberlain’s broken promise of “peace in our time.” Soon, soldiers across nations collided around the globe, from Wake Island and Dutch Harbor to Greece and Malta.

Millions of soldiers fought epic battles during the ensuing years, backed by governments who claimed the moral high ground based on arguments both sound and perverse.

Today, I stood at the altar of the Hiroshima Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I saw the conclusion of that war in the singed, hand-sewn, school-uniforms soiled by the melted skin of children and the images of bleeding gums and sores born from a nuclear holocaust created by a new vast weapon of war.

 

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Each time I return to Japan, I’m struck by the pale sky. Like peace, blue is hidden by the veil of war, one that never recedes completely from the collective consciousness and begs the question: Is peace possible?

To those who doubt the possibility, I dare say that it is, but peace demands a great price, one that most who plead for it are unwilling to pay. I’m not referring to peace through strength or mutually assured destruction. Neither will it be achieved through pacifism, altruism, or any other ism.

There is only one road to peace. It’s not paved by governments, religions, or organizations. Like all other paths, it is paved one inch at a time. Each inch is composed of numerous people who make one decision after another. Those decisions create a groundswell that drives its own course.

You cannot control the minds of another, rewrite history or change cultures without becoming the evil you wish to avoid. You cannot decry hatred by denigrating entire groups of people or stifling the speech of those that disagree. You mustn’t shift the responsibility of your failures onto the backs of others. You cannot force peace. To achieve peace, you must lead by example.

Peace requires bravery and honesty. It requires the courage to stay the course, to forgive, and to forget the temptation of gloom and despair in favor of the harder yet brighter path of hope, action, and endurance.

The secret to peace is as simple as it is hard. All that it requires is for each person to do as Mahatma Gandhi said and, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” The only question is:

Do you want it badly enough?

 

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7 Comments
  • Simo
    Posted at 15:24h, 22 September Reply

    I want it with all my heart and i am committed. I challenge myself to bring peace in my home, with the people I talk to, in my articles, social media. It means work on yourself, be humble, wanting sencerely that people become happy. I thank you with all my heart for your experience. I was there with you, in your words.

  • Ghalmi Chokri
    Posted at 22:46h, 22 September Reply

    Peace demands a great price and great men to do it! no one wants war but if its the unique solution I don’t think it can’t be stopped till change become realty!

  • Roy Huff
    Posted at 02:08h, 23 September Reply

    Thanks for your comments Ghalmi. Sometimes the momentum of war is overwhelming, but I think the idea is to focus on what can be done before that momentum is too overwhelming in order to avoid it. You can’t control what others do, for sure, but you can have a conversation with them and more importantly, focus on your response to events. You can’t control those events, but you can control how you act when things occur, and that is the ultimate deciding factor of what drives the course of your life and history.

  • Austin Dragon
    Posted at 03:34h, 23 September Reply

    Peace is a wonderful “theory” but all too often the quest for it misses the point. What to do about evil? Yes, war must be avoided at all costs and there have been wars in humankind’s past that should never have been fought. However, I am more interested in how to stop evil in the world that kills and victimizes innocents. Growing up the world told me “Never again!” referring to the Holocaust, but that was a lie. How many genocides have we watched, sat back, and done nothing?. I still remember the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 when nearly 1 million innocent people were killed in about 90 days. Yes, that’s a faster killing rate than even the Nazis, but these butchers used machetes instead of gas chambers. It crystalized for me the world’s “sick” fixation for (false) Peace. If the Peace is a world without this kind of evil, then who would be against that? But that’s not what we’re talking about. It always at the cost of ignoring evil. Sorry, that is a Peace I have no interest in. War is bad, but a peace that gives safe haven to evil is worse and…evil.

  • Roy Huff
    Posted at 06:21h, 23 September Reply

    Thank you for your comments Austin. I agree evil should not be ignored. What I’m suggesting is that peace starts by the actions of one person that become many as more people realize their actions contribute to the current state of thinking and the reality of the world.

    • Austin Dragon
      Posted at 22:17h, 24 September Reply

      On the micro level, I would accept that as a universal axiom.

  • Enricoh Alfonzo
    Posted at 23:37h, 27 September Reply

    I totally want it bad enough.
    EPIC post roy, hahah i love this part “Neither will it be achieved through pacifism, altruism, or any other ism.”
    Your open line is so thought provoking, strong & impacting, it’s hard Not to be drawn in from there.
    I have MadLove for Japan, it’s people & it’s culture. My best birthday & holiday was in tokyo, I’ll never forget that experience or the friends I made there.
    It saddens me though that so many were annihilated in Hiroshima.
    Your core message of how peace is achieved inch by inch, is spot on as is the infamous Gandhi saying.
    In truth the only competition I involve myself is, is trying to be better than the person I was yesterday. .

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