The Patriotism Of Peace

A couple of days ago we shared this image on our social media pages. It was “liked” and “shared” by more people than had negative responses to it, but I think some of those negative responses deserve to be shared and their messages discussed.

Brandon W. “Yeah, nothing says ‘I’m a doormat and little b***h’ like letting someone constantly slap the s**t outta you and not doing anything to stop them”

Skye F. “Screw that, some people need to die, sometimes by way of explosion…”

William B. “He who has the most/biggest bomb(s) wins.”

Kirk W. “Nukes end the cycle…ask Japan.”

Steve G. “Sorry don’t agree! Especially since Iran has been killing Americans for decades. It’s time to turn their sand into a sh** hole country!”

Steven D. “And that’s why when we bomb someone, we shouldn’t stop until there are none of those people left to ‘get even.’ Yes. They should be killed until they abandon Islam as well as any notion of ‘getting even’ or until they no longer exist. Whichever, I’m fine with both.

I have zero sympathy or concern for a 1,400year old enemy of Western Civilization that is islime. Killing musrats is its own justification and reward. Same for communists and socialists. Lemme guess, you think tumors have a right to exist until they stand to kill the body, right?”

Shane W. “… bomb the hell out of them.”

I wonder if any of these commenters could even find Iran on a map, or if they know that Tehran has ski resorts that rival some of the best and most beautiful in the world? If they saw this picture, would they still wish for the city and all of its inhabitants to simply be obliterated?

I think it is a sad truth that it has become, to some, unpatriotic to oppose war and question government and to view even “our enemies” as human beings. The founders of the United States were clear in their writings and policies that they understood that a healthy distrust of government and a reluctance to enter hostilities with other nations was imperative to preserving freedom and liberty and keeping a nation strong.

Have we truly become so polarized by partisan politics that we’ve lost our ability to hold our government accountable for actions that aren’t necessarily in the long-term best interest of our nation? Even the anti-war left—so vocal during the Bush presidencies—disappeared almost entirely under President Obama in spite of his flagrant drone campaigns, the accidental bombings of hospitals and the murder of an American teenager in a foreign land. It is only now beginning to reemerge.

I am confused at how people who recognize that wars have been fought and lives have been spent under false pretenses can so quickly be persuaded to support the next campaign. I’m confused at what makes someone decide that another nation’s actions can only be judged from a certain date and close their eyes and ears to anything that happened before. (Did you know that the USA once dethroned Iran’s elected leader and installed a brutal dictator in his place? Knowing our history helps inform why things are currently happening the way they are.)

I picture the people who made the comments above teaching their children to be gentle with animals, to value and love others, and to treat them with respect and compassion. I imagine them in their churches and with their families, praying for their loved ones and making treasured memories, and wonder at how they are unable to see that those in other nations—even nations with whom ours are not friendly—are so very much like them.

I read comments like these, and I think of the threats and rants by angry leaders and people of foreign countries which are used to incite us to start wars and to fear for our safety and the safety of those we love. Are the things written by “patriotic” Americans on social media threads really any different than the chants of “Death to America!” that we see on the news? When we talk openly of “wiping them off the map” and “turning their country into a parking lot” and “nuking them all” do we think that… they don’t hear us?

I once had an occasion to discuss war with my young daughter, and her words impressed upon me the wisdom of children and their understanding of justice and right and wrong. I explained that sometimes, the leader of one country does something that makes the leader of another country very angry. I said that usually they would try to talk about it and find a way to get along even though they were both angry, but that if that didn’t work then they would decide to go to war.

Both countries gather their armies, I explained, and their soldiers fight each other. Lots of people die on both sides of the fight—even people who aren’t soldiers. Even children and grandparents and family pets. Whole cities get destroyed, and it leaves damage that lasts for many, many years after a winner is decided. She asked only one question: “Why don’t the two leaders just fight each other and let all the people just live?” Why, indeed.

I don’t believe that Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi gets it wrong when she says,

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.”

Congressman Ron Paul talks about blowback often. He covered it, and the non-aggression principle, in his book A Foreign Policy of Freedom which The Tuttle Twins and the Golden Rule  is based on. We have an illustration in Golden Rule that is very similar to the image which depicts the bombing cycle. We use it in our advertising fairly often, but because of the timing of our posting it this week, some people found its sentiment anti-American or anti-Trump (which are not, for the record, the same thing).

Katie, who helps with our social media, chose to address one such claim with this response:

We are comfortable with questioning the status quo of what patriotism means in respect to military action in order to open people’s minds to biases they may not realize they hold and educate children about the consequences of aggression.

This conflict is—as most conflicts are—rooted beyond the last five, ten, or twenty years. Only good can come from educating people to ask deeper questions and consider what the actions of their government may look like to people in other parts of the world.

Last week, the US government killed a bad guy. I don’t think there are many people around who disagree that he was a bad guy. In response, Iran bombed US assets… in Iraq. It looks now that as tensions were high with the expectation that the US might retaliate, Iran may have targeted a Ukrainian jetliner resulting in the deaths of all 176 passengers. There were no Americans on board.

Will the countries whose citizens were aboard the ill-fated plane blame the United States? Will they blame Iran? Will Ukraine, Pakistan, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and the UK all now have a dog in this fight? What about Iraq? Were there Iraqi innocents killed when Tehran avenged the killing of their General by bombing US assets in Baghdad?

Does anyone even care?

Asking these questions and being concerned about their answers shouldn’t be viewed as unpatriotic. We have seen a century of near-total war (can you believe it?) and it is nothing if not patriotic to want to see it end. Teaching about peaceful interactions with others, and educating about the revenge cycle of blowback, can go far in raising our children to be better stewards of peace and power than those who have come before them.

My hope—and also my sincere prayer—is that we may engage in honest dialogue with ourselves and with others about the actions proposed and carried out by our government and that we may, at some time in the not so distant future, be able to reclaim patriotism as a demand that those elected to represent and defend us do so with wisdom and in deference to the long term consequences of their actions.

— Connor



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