War and Peace

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War and PeaceWhile human beings continue to acknowledge that a pursuit of peace is one of the most important pursuits of any individual or society, and perhaps is even an inherent goal of every human being on Earth, war remains a major occupation of our time, thoughts, and resources. Sadly, throughout the entirety of recorded history there seems to be only a few years when there was not a war going on, someplace on the known planet. Keep in mind, that this is recorded history. We do not know how humankind behaved while developing into the dominant species on the planet.

In seeming contradiction we have waged some of our most violent confrontations, because of a stated desire for peace. “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” is a famous religious sentiment. Ironically, non-violent (usually religious) protests have spurred some of the bloodiest reactions, and more than once someone has called citizens to arms to participate in a “war to end all wars.” So far, this goal has never been achieved, but does that mean that we should resign ourselves to a constant state of conflict as the norm for our species?

To be honest, peaceful and non-violent protests have also had great impact in changing human behavior. We need to look no further than Gandhi’s non-violent resistance to Britain’s occupation of India to see that violence is not the only effective tool for change, or the story of Jesus suggesting that we “turn the other cheek” to our enemies and look for non-violent solutions to problems. However, great leaders who followed this course routinely have ended up violently assassinated, including both Jesus and Gandhi.

In the modern world, because of technology, it has now become possible to completely isolate a culture from a war, in which their government is engaging, on their behalf. For instance, the U.S. is technically at war in more than one way around the globe, but the average citizen—born after the Viet Nam War–is completely isolated from any actual fighting. Most of us are so insulated from the horrors of the conflicts in which our countries are actively engaged, that our experience is limited to an occasional news report of the most sensational battles, via our hand-held or larger devices while we shop, eat a meal, or are otherwise being entertained. After all, these same devices are the ones we use to watch movies or play competitive games.

Anthropologists, such as Jane Goodall suggest that predatory and violent competition may be built into the genes of our species. Examining everything from tooth development to changes in diet, leads some scientists to ask whether we will ever be able to reverse this tendency toward competition and spawns other questions such as, “Do women and men tend to solve problems differently?”  Or, “How have humans sought ways to compete with one another where the least number put themselves in jeopardy for a cause?”

Some believe that all sporting activities are based upon this dichotomous desire to compete, yet establish peace. Are our sports really just ways for us to “go to battle” without everyone getting hurt? Are our sports champions and teams merely representative of small armies? It is well known that the line between life and death struggle and friendly competition has been often blurred. The Mayans played a ballgame where victory or defeat may have ended with human sacrifice. From the Roman Empire to bouts in rings and cages, hand-to-hand combat has often been viewed as sport. Today, the entire globe participates in competition every four years in the Olympic games, which were originally established as a way to compete without going to war.

So, in this ongoing section of L&L Magazine, we will pursue all subjects, which fall into the categories of War and Peace.

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Gordon Richiusa About Gordon Richiusa

Gordon Richiusa is an Italian American who has been a martial artist for some 50 years. He teaches the Five Bird System. Gordon earned a Master of Arts degree in English and has written numerous articles, stories, books and scripts under his own name and his pen-name, Gordon Rich. He has been a teacher of English Composition, Film as Literature, Creative Writing, and Scriptwriting and He holds two teaching credentials.