• More Than Just Words

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    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

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The Christmas Truce

by Aaron Shephard

Christmas Day, 1914

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

As I wrote before, there has been little serious fighting of late. The first battles of the war left so many dead that both sides have held back until replacements could come from home. So we have mostly stayed in our trenches and waited.

But what a terrible waiting it has been! Knowing that any moment an artillery shell might land and explode beside us in the trench, killing or maiming several men. And in daylight not daring to lift our heads above ground, for fear of a sniper’s bullet.

And the rain—it has fallen almost daily. Of course, it collects right in our trenches, where we must bail it out with pots and pans. And with the rain has come mud—a good foot or more deep. It splatters and cakes everything, and constantly sucks at our boots. One new recruit got his feet stuck in it, and then his hands too when he tried to get out—just like in that American story of the tar baby!

Through all this, we couldn’t help feeling curious about the German soldiers across the way. After all, they faced the same dangers we did, and slogged about in the same muck. What’s more, their first trench was only 50 yards from ours. Between us lay No Man’s Land, bordered on both sides by barbed wire—yet they were close enough we sometimes heard their voices.

Of course, we hated them when they killed our friends. But other times, we joked about them and almost felt we had something in common. And now it seems they felt the same.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land! I would have thought nothing could be more amazing—but what came next was more so.

“English, come over!” we heard one of them shout. “You no shoot, we no shoot.”

There in the trenches, we looked at each other in bewilderment. Then one of us shouted jokingly, “You come over here.”

To our astonishment, we saw two figures rise from the trench, climb over their barbed wire, and advance unprotected across No Man’s Land. One of them called, “Send officer to talk.”

I saw one of our men lift his rifle to the ready, and no doubt others did the same—but our captain called out, “Hold your fire.” Then he climbed out and went to meet the Germans halfway. We heard them talking, and a few minutes later, the captain came back with a German cigar in his mouth!

“We’ve agreed there will be no shooting before midnight tomorrow,” he announced. “But sentries are to remain on duty, and the rest of you, stay alert.”

Across the way, we could make out groups of two or three men starting out of trenches and coming toward us. Then some of us were climbing out too, and in minutes more, there we were in No Man’s Land, over a hundred soldiers and officers of each side, shaking hands with men we’d been trying to kill just hours earlier!

Before long a bonfire was built, and around it we mingled—British khaki and German grey. I must say, the Germans were the better dressed, with fresh uniforms for the holiday.

Only a couple of our men knew German, but more of the Germans knew English. I asked one of them why that was.

“Because many have worked in England!” he said. “Before all this, I was a waiter at the Hotel Cecil. Perhaps I waited on your table!”

“Perhaps you did!” I said, laughing.

He told me he had a girlfriend in London and that the war had interrupted their plans for marriage. I told him, “Don’t worry. We’ll have you beat by Easter, then you can come back and marry the girl.”

He laughed at that. Then he asked if I’d send her a postcard he’d give me later, and I promised I would.

Another German had been a porter at Victoria Station. He showed me a picture of his family back in Munich. His eldest sister was so lovely, I said I should like to meet her someday. He beamed and said he would like that very much and gave me his family’s address.

Even those who could not converse could still exchange gifts—our cigarettes for their cigars, our tea for their coffee, our corned beef for their sausage. Badges and buttons from uniforms changed owners, and one of our lads walked off with the infamous spiked helmet! I myself traded a jackknife for a leather equipment belt—a fine souvenir to show when I get home.

Newspapers too changed hands, and the Germans howled with laughter at ours. They assured us that France was finished and Russia nearly beaten too. We told them that was nonsense, and one of them said, “Well, you believe your newspapers and we’ll believe ours.”

Clearly they are lied to—yet after meeting these men, I wonder how truthful our own newspapers have been. These are not the “savage barbarians” we’ve read so much about. They are men with homes and families, hopes and fears, principles and, yes, love of country. In other words, men like ourselves. Why are we led to believe otherwise?

As it grew late, a few more songs were traded around the fire, and then all joined in for—I am not lying to you—“Auld Lang Syne.” Then we parted with promises to meet again tomorrow, and even some talk of a football match.

I was just starting back to the trenches when an older German clutched my arm. “My God,” he said, “why cannot we have peace and all go home?”

I told him gently, “That you must ask your emperor.”

He looked at me then, searchingly. “Perhaps, my friend. But also we must ask our hearts.”

And so, dear sister, tell me, has there ever been such a Christmas Eve in all history? And what does it all mean, this impossible befriending of enemies?

For the fighting here, of course, it means regrettably little. Decent fellows those soldiers may be, but they follow orders and we do the same. Besides, we are here to stop their army and send it home, and never could we shirk that duty.

Still, one cannot help imagine what would happen if the spirit shown here were caught by the nations of the world. Of course, disputes must always arise. But what if our leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals? Would not all war end at once?

All nations say they want peace. Yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough.

Your loving brother,
Tom

About the Story

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has been called by Arthur Conan Doyle “one human episode amid all the atrocities.” It is certainly one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of all military history. Inspiring both popular songs and theater, it has endured as an almost archetypal image of peace.

Starting in some places on Christmas Eve and in others on Christmas Day, the truce covered as much as two-thirds of the British-German front, with French and Belgians involved as well. Thousands of soldiers took part. In most places it lasted at least through Boxing Day (December 26), and in some through mid-January. Perhaps most remarkably, it grew out of no single initiative but sprang up in each place spontaneously and independently.

Unofficial and spotty as the truce was, there have been those convinced it never happened—that the whole thing was made up. Others have believed it happened but that the news was suppressed. Neither is true. Though little was printed in Germany, the truce made headlines for weeks in British newspapers, with published letters and photos from soldiers at the front. In a single issue, the latest rumor of German atrocities might share space with a photo of British and German soldiers crowded together, their caps and helmets exchanged, smiling for the camera.

Historians, on the other hand, have shown less interest in an unofficial outbreak of peace. There has been only one comprehensive study of the incident: Christmas Truce, by Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton, Secker & Warburg, London, 1984—a companion volume to the authors’ 1981 BBC documentary, Peace in No Man’s Land. The book features a large number of first-hand accounts from letters and diaries. Nearly everything described in my fictional letter is drawn from these accounts—though I have heightened the drama somewhat by selecting, arranging, and compressing.

In my letter, I’ve tried to counteract two popular misconceptions of the truce. One is that only common soldiers took part in it, while officers opposed it. (Few officers opposed it, and many took part.) The other is that neither side wished to return to fighting. (Most soldiers, especially British, French, and Belgian, remained determined to fight and win.)

Sadly, I also had to omit the Christmas Day games of football—or soccer, as called in the U.S.—often falsely associated with the truce. The truth is that the terrain of No Man’s Land ruled out formal games—though certainly some soldiers kicked around balls and makeshift substitutes.

Another false idea about the truce was held even by most soldiers who were there: that it was unique in history. Though the Christmas Truce is the greatest example of its kind, informal truces had been a longstanding military tradition. During the American Civil War, for instance, Rebels and Yankees traded tobacco, coffee, and newspapers, fished peacefully on opposite sides of a stream, and even gathered blackberries together. Some degree of fellow feeling had always been common among soldiers sent to battle.

Of course, all that has changed in modern times. Today, soldiers kill at great distances, often with the push of a button and a sighting on a computer screen. Even where soldiers come face to face, their languages and cultures are often so diverse as to make friendly communication unlikely.

No, we should not expect to see another Christmas Truce. Yet still what happened on that Christmas of 1914 may inspire the peacemakers of today—for, now as always, the best time to make peace is long before the armies go to war.

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Make Peace – it’s easy!

From the new Centre of the Psyclone blog

Make peace-it's easy

Hands up who wants peace!

All those with their hands down, please be advised, you’re reading the wrong post.

All those with their hands up, what would you do if given an extremely simple, tried and tested, effective way of promoting peace? A method so much safer than smashing the nose cones of fighter jets or lying down in front of rolling tanks; easier and so much more meaningful and influential than marching down the street (yawn); a method that went viral back in the day when only viruses did, and was instrumental in generating a wave of public response that contributed in stopping the Vietnam War? Would you use it?

Here’s how: next time you’re in a situation where you would give a thumbs up or a wave, say for instance, you’re driving and someone lets you pull out or pull in, instead of a wave or thumb up, flash a peace sign. It’s that simple! It’s even safer given that more fingers remain in contact with the steering wheel. Say ‘Peace’ at the same time, (it’s okay, don’t be inhibited, they can’t hear you and possibly will never see you again), and the mouth naturally forms a smile when you say it. The smile, the vibe, and the sign will lift your spirits, guaranteed, and you never know, it might catch on.

Peace!

Waging Peace

[Editor’s note: This isn’t a plug for the method specified in the article. It’s reposted here to promote thought and action in connection with the described processes. The method specified is one of a variety available that enable the process.]

Waging Peace

by Cate Montana in The Global Intelligencer

Peace is breaking out all over.

If you get your news from mainstream TV and radio, you probably haven’t noticed. But here are a few startling statistics the networks have overlooked in their rush to promote the usual stories of crime, corruption, terrorism and war.

More lasting peace initiatives have been successful in the last 15 years than over the last two or three centuries combined.

More individuals and private groups are involved in effective grass roots peace-making and conflict resolution efforts than ever before.

Thirty years ago the great majority of the world’s governments were autocratic, totalitarian regimes with democracies far in the minority. Today approximately 70% of world governments are democratic.1

With our attention fixed on “the problems,” we rarely hear stories like the one about the philanthropist who subsidized a group of 8,000 Transcendental Meditation practitioners to engage in group meditation twice a day from 1988 to 1990, near New Delhi, India.

During this same period, the seven year war between Iraq and Iran came to an end. The Soviet Union’s brutal invasion of Afghanistan was called to a halt. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union dissolved, and the Cold War, which had held the world teetering on the brink of extinction for forty years, simply evaporated. Coincidence? Not hardly.

There is a technology of peace, and many organizations and individuals have been utilizing it for a long time. The most prominent is the Maharishi University of Management, based in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

With a university degree in physics, Maharishi was determined to ground the ancient science and meditation practices of the Vedas in modern scientific understanding and terminology. In line with his stated goals to “bring enlightenment to every individual on Earth, and to establish a state of permanent peace in the world,” he established the university in 1971 to not only provide an excellent academic and holistic education for students from around the world, but also to take meditation mainstream by providing scientific proof that meditation is effective in reducing stress, and inducing calmness, peace and mental/emotional fortitude.

World renowned physicist John Hagelin, responsible for the development of a highly successful grand unified field theory based on the Superstring, is Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the university and a professor of physics. Along with Hagelin, scientists at the university have meticulously conducted over 600 scientific studies on the effects of meditation, and have been awarded nearly $20 million in federal research grants over the years to continue their investigations.

From this research, the effectiveness of meditation as a world-wide peace inducing technology has been extrapolated. “Reality is really one of unity, one of awareness, and universal consciousness,” says Hagelin. “With the discovery of the Unified Field, we are witnessing a total transformation of human knowledge — from the isolated understanding of specific laws of nature to the holistic understanding of the unity of existence.”

Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM, is not just healthy for the individual, it’s healthy for the planet and everyone on it. By tapping into the peace of the unified field, individuals meditating alone or in groups, literally emanate the qualities of unity, oneness and peace that characterize this underlying quantum level of reality. Studies have even revealed the number of meditating participants necessary worldwide to effect optimum change: either one percent of the earth’s population of 6.5 billion, (6.5 million), or the square root of one percent which is (maybe you guessed it already) approximately 8,000.

Because of wave amplification dynamics, having that number meditating in one large group, such as in the New Delhi experiment, is ideal. However it is also effective having smaller groups around the world meditating. To this end, Hagelin is helping establish the University of Peace worldwide, with the main campus in Iowa.

The goal to establish one University of Peace near every state capital in the U.S. is currently underway, and campuses are already in place in over 100 countries. In India, about 175 small campuses, with an average of 350 students each, have been established. One campus is being created in Washington D.C. “Which is not enough to bring peace to the world,” says Hagelin, “but it is enough to bring a very powerful source of peace to the United States and particularly in and around Washington D.C. where the influence of peace and sanity is perhaps most critically needed.”

The Lebanon study

One of the most well-known, and best controlled studies of the peace-creating effects of group meditation occurred during the Lebanese civil war in the early 1980s. With Israeli troops heavily involved, the situation around Beirut and the Chouf mountains was rapidly creating a middle-eastern powder keg. Into this arena in 1983, Drs. Charles Alexander and John Davies at Harvard University, in collaboration with Maharishi University of Management researchers, brought 200 experienced meditators, setting up a group base in Jerusalem along with local Israeli meditators, for a period of two months. In addition, a smaller group was formed in Lebanon, containing both Muslim and Christian meditators, and five other larger groups were established at various distances from Lebanon, ranging from 2,000 in Yugoslavia to 8,000 in the US, at intervals over a 2¼ year period.

“The Lebanese participants were heavily at risk doing this,” says Davies, co-director of the Partners in Conflict and Partners in Peacebuilding Projects at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland. “If their fellow countrymen had known that Muslims and Christians were talking with each other, let alone meditating in harmony, they would have been killed.”

The results were highly significant. After controlling statistically for weather changes, Lebanese and Muslim, Christian and Jewish holidays, police activity, fluctuation in group sizes, and other variant influences, during the course of the study violence in Lebanon decreased between 40 to 80 percent each time a meditating group was in place, depending upon the measure and statistical approach used. This pattern was replicated seven consecutive times between 1983 and 1985. During the period each of the seven groups was in place, the average number of people killed during the war per day dropped from twelve to three, a decrease of more than 70%; war-related injuries fell by 68%; the intensity level of conflict dropped by 48%; and cooperation among antagonists increased by 66%. And the effects didn’t stop there. Violent crime incidents, auto accidents and fires in both Lebanon and Israel also decreased significantly during each of the studies.

According to an analysis of the results by the Maharishi School of Management, “the likelihood that these combined results were due to chance is less than one part in 1019, making this effect of reducing societal stress and conflict the most rigorously established phenomenon in the history of the social sciences.”

In 1988, Alexander and Davies’ meticulous findings on the very first study in 1983 were published in the prestigious Journal of Conflict Resolution. But the backlash of criticism was formidable, and it was another 15 years before Davies’ research showing that results were replicated seven times over with different groups could be presented in another peer-reviewed journal.

Peace from the bottom up

It is precisely because of the closed-minded attitudes of mainstream scientific organizations and publications, mainstream politics and mainstream journalism, that individuals such as Maharishi, Hagelin and Davies are taking peace-creating initiatives to the streets, teaching individuals how to transform their personal lives and showing them how they can make a difference in the world.

“Our most important responsibility as citizens is to create peace in our own lives,” says Davies. “We have to move beyond hypocrisy if we’re going to make peace. You can’t impose peace in a complex society, such as we’re living in now, through simply dictating what’s right and what’s wrong while not living up to your own standards. The first step of responsibility, which applies to all of us, is to be able to look to our own lives and see if we’re living and being the peace we want to create.”

Davies works to create peaceful solutions to political rivalries around the world through conflict resolution with Partners in Conflict and Partners in Peacebuilding Projects. His organization helped resolve an often violent Peru — Ecuador conflict over disputed territory when private citizens of both nations agreed to meet at the Maryland headquarters. “The solution that came up in our workshops was, let’s make this a bi-national park that honors the people that have died on both sides fighting over this sacred ground, and have shared sovereignty,” says Davies. “So that met the needs of both sides — it was win-win — and was incorporated as the basis for an official peace agreement.”

His organization has also been involved in mitigating tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, contributing to an agreement on how the very limited water supplies there could be managed. Civilian workshops eventually arrived at a solution where people’s basic needs would be met at a low cost within budget parameters, while higher rates were established for irrigation and luxury use and water waste minimized. “Since those agreements emerged, water issues are no longer a deal breaker for a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” says Davies. “And that’s still the case.”

Davies is clear about the need for taking personal responsibility for creating peace. By uplifting one’s thoughts and expanding attitudes through meditation, people can prepare themselves to take a greater responsibility for world affairs. Changes in attitudes and widened perceptions are critical if a difference is to be made.

“We mistake the world for being some sort of zero sum place — we’re all fighting over limited resources,” he says. “But it’s not the resources that are limited. It’s the capacity to manage the resources well … and understand the human needs that are at stake. You’ve got to connect with people as human beings. From there, that and a little empathy allows you to be able to very quickly find ways of building partnerships that allow both side’s needs to be met.”

The Peace Government

After running for president on the Natural Law Party platform in 2000, Hagelin now eschews the regular political channels with their stubborn complexity, hierarchical structuring and lack of innovative thinking. As President of the US Peace Government, which is the US affiliate of the Global Country of World Peace founded by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in October 2002, Hagelin is busy building partnerships that carry grassroots peace efforts far beyond America’s shores. Literally a country without borders, the Global Country of World Peace is pulling together organizations, citizens and diplomats from around the world who hold the vision and who are willing to learn the scientifically proven principles and policies of governance under Natural Law.

According to Hagelin, the international diplomatic community in Washington D.C. has welcomed the existence of this essentially self-proclaimed Peace Government, and has been very active in visiting Hagelin’s D.C. offices for luncheons and planning projects — especially peace promoting projects in their own countries. “There are many countries in the world that are not particularly pleased with the current administration,” Hagelin says, “and are very eager to explore the possibility of relationships with an alternative government in the United States that is fundamentally concerned with their welfare and peace, and prevention of crime and promotion of education in their country.”

For more information uspeacegovernment.org [1]

1 John Davies, Ph.D. Co-Director, Partners in Conflict and Partners in Peacebuilding Projects, Center for International Development and Conflict Management, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park MD

Source URL:
http://www.theglobalintelligencer.com/dec2007/soc-health/waging-peace
Links:
[1] http://www.uspeacegovernment.org/

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For more information on recent developments  on the theme, see the Flash Mob Meditation posts on this blog.

As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields

As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields

from The Centre of the Psyclone

A thought for World Vegan Day. World Vegan Day marks the start of World Vegan Month every year, commemorating the coining of the term, ‘vegan’ and the founding of The Vegan Society in November 1944.

We are the living graves of murdered beasts
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites
We never pause to wonder at our feasts
If animals, like men, can possibly have rights
We pray on Sundays that we may have light
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread
We’re sick of war we do not want to fight
The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead
Like carrion crows we live and feed on meat
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so.
If thus we treat Defenseless animals for sport or gain
How can we hope in this world to attain the PEACE we say we are so anxious for
We pray for it o’er hecatombs of slain
To God, while outraging the moral law
Thus cruelty begets its offspring: war.

 

The World Peace Diet

The Vegan Society

People Power

This post is the second in the series But What Can We Do About It?

One of the most prominent figures in the 20th-century theatre, Bertolt Brecht, had this message for armed forces chiefs:

General, your tank
is a powerful vehicle
it smashes down forests
& crushes a hundred men.
but it has one defect:
it needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful
it flies faster than a storm
& carries more than an elephant.
but it has one defect:
it needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly & he can kill.
but he has one defect:
He can think.

In the past I’ve posted up information about individuals taking the stand of refusing to follow orders that have gone contrary to their conscience and others who have refused military service completely, US conscientious objectors and the Shministim, Israeli teenagers refusing the mandatory military service.

The following video of the Winter Soldier presentation for Iraq Veterans Against the War shows that, thankfully, there is a movement developing within the armed forces consisting of individuals demonstrating that ‘defect’, as Brecht put it,  soldiers who have realised how true his words are and who have decided that they are the ones that can change things.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Iraq Veterans Against the War YouTube channel,

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The abovementioned post dealing with conscientious objection within US forces and the Shministim, teenage opposition to mandatory military service in Israel, also contains several informative and inspiring short videos. It can be found in the Solutions section of the Centre of the Psyclone website, here.

‘But What Can We Do About It?’

Occasionally, often after a long discussion about the orchestration of various current and historical events and/or global directions, when faced with overwhelming evidence that counters the other person’s previously held beliefs or worldviews, I hear the response, ‘I see what you’re saying, but what can we do about?’

I’ll begin this answer by quoting from a conversation in the novel, Psyclone:

‘You could start by asking the question as if it was a real question, instead of a statement that says there’s nothing you can do.’
‘I mean it, what can we do?’
‘I mean it too. Ask yourself the question and think about it. The answers might take some working out, but there is something you can do. There are things we can all do. People have to get off their backsides before it’s too late.’

Another question at this point might be, do about what? Well, if you can look around the world that you live in and not find anything that could do with making better, then you’re fortunate indeed…and living on another planet. Unfortunately, planet Earth and its inhabitants are labouring under a long list of predicaments in desperate need of sorting out. I won’t list them because the words and phrases fail to carry the full meaning and in too many people’s minds have become just words. For instance, unless you’ve experienced it or made the effort to discern the real meaning of the word,  ‘homelessness’ is just another one of those words and doesn’t convey anything of the discomfort, hopelessness, trauma, desperation, etc, etc, of the condition itself. (For a window into that world read A Little Matched World, a modern-day adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Match Girl, which was my way of doing something, encouraging people think, about the issue.)

Or how about war? War is easily one of the biggest problems the world faces at present. Military conflicts all over the world, caused, funded, manipulated, and involving the US and its henchmen, sorry, allies, are continuing to create financial, ecological, and humanitarian crises on a scale never seen before. Not only are they tearing countries apart, laying waste to the countries themselves, more often than not using weapons of mass destruction, (an issue I’ll cover in a coming post),  killing millions of innocent people…MILLIONS of INNOCENT people, they’re also bankrupting, in the case of the US and, in the UK  drastically cutting the amount of money being spent on the essential infrastructure of the country. And all this despite the fact that the wars being waged are illegal according to international law. If that wasn’t enough, the corporate connections in government are doing everything they can to fan the flames of war higher, everywhere they can, to create maximum profits for their war machine industry. As is stated in Psyclone:

“They’re a private, for profit, off-the-shelf, regime-change industry. They fight the wars, organise the occupation that follows, rebuild the ruined infrastructure, recruit new governments, and manage the post-war economy.”

There’s that question again.

Okay, let’s take it a step at a time. What’s the problem? War. What’s the answer? Peace.

Hands up who wants peace. All those with their hands up, how much time have you spent, how many hours…minutes?…have you thought about ways in which you can do something to create peace? How many hours or minutes have you spent actually doing something to promote? Is it a valid enough desire, a worthy enough cause, for you to spend a few more minutes, another hour maybe, thinking about ways in which you can create more peace in the world and/or doing something to achieve that?

Personally, I want it so much, I can’t not do something about it.

So what can you do? Well, that’s not something I can tell you. You know yourself and your circumstances. What you can do largely depends on these. But something is definitely better than nothing.

I asked if peace was a valid enough desire or a worthy enough cause, when doing something is actually also a responsibility of each individual according to the Principles of International Law Recognised in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, which were adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations in 1950.

Principle VII states that,

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.

The dictionary definition of complicity is involvement or collaboration;
collaboration being defined as cooperation (usually with an enemy), and cooperation as assistance, esp. by ready compliance with.

Principle VI defines the crimes as:

a. Crimes against peace:
1. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
2. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
b. War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
c. Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

All seems very clear, doesn’t isn’t. In fact there isn’t one aspect of the Principles that isn’t being trashed in numerous instances by the aforementioned fascists. (if you think my referring to the US/UK Military-Industrial-Parliamentary/Congressional Complex as fascists, think about the definition of fascism said to have been made by Mussolini: ‘Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power,’ and check back for a following post which will provide more information and research sources on the issue.)

So, back to the question what can you do, or rather, what can we do to create peace in the world? Again the quote from Psyclone:

Ask yourself the question and think about it. The answers might take some working out, but there is something you can do. There are things we can all do.

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Posts to follow will include a series of peace-making ideas and inspiring examples of peacemakers in action.

Peace

Afghanistan

José Maria de Eça de Queiros
From Afghanistan and Ireland (1880)
Translated by Ann Stevens

In their troubled Indian Empire the English are attempting to discover whether there is any truth in the eighteenth-century witticism that ‘History is like an old woman who keeps on repeating herself.’

Fate, or Providence, or whatever Being it is up there that directed the events of the Afghan campaign in 1847, is simply making a slavish copy now, thus apparently showing an exhausted imagination.

In 1847 the English, ‘for a reason of State, a need for scientific frontiers, the security of the Empire, a barrier to the Russian domination of Asia…’ and other vague things that the politicians concerned with India solemnly mutter as they twist their mustaches – invaded Afghanistan, and proceeded to annihilate ancient tribes, destroy towns, lay waste cornfields and vineyards; finally they took possession of the holy city of Kabul: they turned out a terrified old Emir from the seraglio and installed another of a more submissive race, whom they had brought with them ready in their baggage, along with some slave-girls and carpets; and as soon as the newspaper correspondents cabled the victory, the army camped beside the streams and in the gardens of Kabul, undid their belts and smoked the pipe of peace…And that is exactly what is happening in 1880.

At the moment, precisely as in 1847, energetic leaders, native Messiahs, are travelling through this territory and with fine words like Homeland and Religion, are inciting their brethren to a holy war: the tribes are assembling, feudal families hasten to offer their mounted troops, rival princes join forces in their hereditary hatred for the foreigner, and in a short time all will be a-glimmer with the lights of encampments on the hill-tops overlooking the narrow paths which form the route to India….And when the bulk of the English army appears on the approaches to Kabul, with a mass of artillery, and makes its hurried way through narrow passes in the mountains or along the dry river beds, with its long caravans of camels, the savage horde falls upon them and annihilates them.

So it was in 1847 and so it is again in 1880. The disbanded remains of the army then seek refuge in one of the frontier cities, which might be Ghazni or Kandahar; the Afghans rush in pursuit, and set siege to them, a slow siege, an Oriental, leisurely siege: the besieged general, who in these Asiatic wars can always communicate with the outside world, cables to the Viceroy of India, indignantly demanding reinforcements, sugar and tea! (This is literally true: it was General Roberts who made this gluttonous appeal a few days ago; the Englishman without his tea fights only half-heartedly.) Then the Indian government spends millions of pounds like water and hastily sends off enormous parcels of restorative tea and white mountains of sugar and ten or fifteen thousand men. Enormous black war-transports leave England, like great steam-powered Noah’s arks, carrying camping equipment, numerous horses, parks of artillery, a complete, awesome invading force. So it was in 1847, and so it is in 1880.

This host disembarks in Hindustan, joins up with other columns of Indian troops, and is led day and night to the frontier in express trains at a speed of 40 miles an hour; then an exhausting march begins with fifty thousand pack-camels, telegraphists, hydraulic machines, and an eloquent company of newspaper men. One morning Kandahar of Ghazni is sighted; and in a flash the poor Afghan army is wiped out, dispersed in the dust of the plain, with its melodramatic scimitars and its venerable culverins of the same model that fired in former days at Diu. Ghazni is liberated! Kandahar is liberated! Hurrah! Immediately a patriotic song is made of this, and the exploit is popularized all over England by an engraving where the liberating general and the besieged general can be seen passionately shaking hands in the foreground, amid rearing horses and grenadiers as handsome as Apollo who are nobly breathing their last! So it was in 1847, so it must be in 1880.

In the meantime, on hill-tops and narrow paths, thousands of men who either defended their homeland or died for the sake of the scientific frontier, lie there, food for the crows – which is not, in Afghanistan, a respectable rhetorical image: there it is the crows which clean up the streets in the cities, eating the filth, and on the battlefield purify the air by devouring the remains of the defeated.

And what is eventually left after so much blood and agony and mourning? A patriotic song, an idiotic engraving in a few dining rooms, later on a line of prose in a page of some chronicle…

A consoling philosophy of wars!

In the meantime England enjoys the prestige of ‘the great victory of Afghanistan’ for a short while – certain of having to begin once more in ten or fifteen years, because they can neither conquer and annex a vast kingdom, as large as France, nor allow the existence of a few million hostile fanatics at their side. Their policy, therefore, is to weaken them periodically with a devastating invasion: such violence is required of a great Empire. Far better to possess only a little garden with a cow for milk and a couple of lettuces for summer snacks…