Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To This Road Lies Madness

I've waited a week to respond to Michael Few's article over at LOD, and almost didn't post this - but hey, I'm a blogg'r.

I didn't want to, as everyone has to find their way in life and respond to what they run in to in a way that suits them and their circumstance.

In general, you should let them go in peace - but if they are going to put it out there for all to see, maybe some constructive criticism is in order. Nothing hostile, just a, "Well, that may be they way you see it - but you may want to ponder this as well."

Sigh. We've all seen this movie before.
I’m applying to teach high school social studies as well as coach football and wrestling. I’ll also start preparing a seminar on Peace Studies, Conflict Resolution, and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Strategies. My goal is guide young people to better solutions for many of the wicked problems that we’ll face in the future– terrorism, drugs, poverty, insurgency, the crisis of the nation-state in a globalized word, all those sorts of things.
Those aren't the problems of the future - those of the problems of the present and the past, as well as the future. They were, are, and always will be. They will never be solved as they are part of the nature of man from the dawn of time and always will be.

We actually live in a very peaceful world, free of dependency, poverty, internal conflict and nations who work well together - if you have a historical perspective. Heck, just take the book I half-way through now, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara W. Tuchman, if you need a reference point. We have it exceptionally easy. Pick your century - we're OK.
For quite some time, many scholars have thought that we need to find a better way to answer these questions than the military solution. So, I’m going try to explore some of that from the bottom up as I mentor and educate our next generation of Americans.
"Quite some time" is all of human history. If you want to educate them, give them a historical perspective how good we have it compared to those who came before - the sacrifices others made to give this world to us - and the sacrifices they will have to make to preserve it and make it better for their children, as history does not go in one direction. If good people do not stand, then violent, retrograde forces will drag the world back in to shadow; again.
I’ll lean on the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela rather than waiting for an answer from GEN David Petraeus — “Tell me how this ends” – or finding lasting solutions in Admiral Bill McRaven’s “Golden Age of Special Operations.”
OK. Just let them know that the only reason that Mahatma Gandhi, MLK and Nelson Mandela were able to do what they did is that they were protesting and progressing inside Anglosphere nations. If any of them were instead in a Russian, Chinese Communist, or most of the world's cultures, they would have had a bullet in the back of their head years before anyone actually knew who they were. MLK (and Ghandi) were killed while doing their work, but by an individual's personal hate, not a government act. As for Jesus - the Romans did what Romans did - and his acts were about salvation and religion. You can't put him in with politicians.
I’ll challenge both students and myself with the same question: Can we overcome human nature by embracing our humanity? Can we temper the drive to war by embracing equally human traits such as empathy, love and community?
I think Elvis Costello asked that question better, but your answer is; retail, yes - wholesale, no.

It takes two in order to make that dance work. History shows us that it only works in small ways when both sides want to. That doesn't happen often. For every Czechoslovakia there are a hundred Sudans.
I asked Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and national security expert Tom Ricks to explain what he thought was the purpose of the “Surge” in Iraq and a subsequent “Surge” in Afghanistan, operations that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

His answer continues to frustrate me. “I can’t prove it, but I I suspect that the real reason we surged in both Afghanistan and Iraq was not to establish a better peace. Rather, it was to allow an honorable exit for the United States from the conflict,” he wrote to me.

He’s probably right, and I guess that is what frustrates me most.
An honorable exit from a conflict is much better for long range peace than a dishonorable exit that only encourages more violence. The reason Ricks states does not bother me because, again, history shows that it is better than the alternatives.
There has to be a better way and now that I’m out of the military I can start to find it. I’ve started by exploring Teachers without Borders and Playing for Change.

So my journey has begun. While on the way, however, I’m reminded of the advice Gandhi gave us: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” To that end, I’m going to live as close to my local community as I can, embodying a call to life shared by John Robb’s notion of “Resilient Communities.”

There has to be a better way than forever fighting the Long War. I’ll start figuring it out by waging a little peace.
Whatever you are looking for Mr. Few, I hope you find it. I just hope you are looking for it at the retail level, and not the wholesale level - which it sounds like you are. I would also recommend you do a bit more objective reading about Ghandi - just a heads up.

I would also ask that you have patience with those who decide that they need to act on the wholesale level - a place where now and then good people have to do terrible things in order to keep the bad at bay. You will never get rid of the bad, it is always there - the key is to keep it away. Force it to retreat where you can. Be humble to know you can't get rid of it; but know that it must be resisted.

While they are doing that and you are enjoying your "Resilient Communities" - understand that your joy depends on their work. I note you are writing in Chapel Hill, NC - so in that protective cocoon, you should be able to find your niche. I wish you luck.

You will find in your new company those who will not have patience with the hard work or others so you can enjoy your peace - don't join them in their narcissistic self-importance.

In retail you may find peace, but history is thick of people who thought they could make retail, wholesale - and lost it all trying to make it happen.

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