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Waging War; Waging Peace

September 4, 2009


In early January of 2004, I landed by way of C-130 at Mosul International Airport in Mosul, Iraq. At the ripe age of 19, I found myself in a combat zone filled with dangers and curiosities. Days ran the gamut from mind numbing boredom to blood wrenching terror. Some days, it felt like I might not make it; others made that seem a favorable option. My experiences in Iraq led me to question much of what I had grown up believing. I, after a time, began to view the Iraqis not as enemies; rather, I began to see them as dignity worthy human beings. Iraqis had families; Iraqis were mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, aunts and uncles. When an Iraqi was killed, a mother somewhere grieved with the same pain of circumstance my mother would have if my life were taken. It was this humanization of war–of the “enemy”–that changed the way I saw the world.

Standing guard on the perimeter of FOB Fulda, I never could have imagined that I would find myself working for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) just six short years later. At present, I oversee the “War Is not the Answer” campaign–which has distributed over a million “War Is Not the Answer” signs all over the country (http://www.warisnottheanswer.com/). The message is simple; the concept is revolutionary. Imagine if the solution to global security and sustainable living issues were not sought on the back of the U.S. military. What kind of world could we create if we prevented conflict diplomatically, rather than engage in devastating wars in which no population of ordinary people ever win?

My desk overlooks the Hart Senate Office Building. I gaze upon this majestic structure. From the outside, the building is calm and serene; yet I know that on the inside, people bustle about, making decisions on plethora of issues. The people who walk the halls of this building and so many others here in Washington, D.C. have the power to shape the world in which we live; they have the means to directly affect our collective daily lives in immeasurable ways. However, there is a catch:

They are accountable to us; now, as much as ever before, they need our polite and persistent voices.

There are many factors which contribute to U.S. foreign policy’s centralism on war but an unfortunate few providing practical alternatives. If we are to end the institution of war, we must dedicate ourselves to any extent we may be capable. “War Is Not the Answer” is more than a slogan; it is a statement of purpose. The answer, truly, lies within us. Ultimately, we can simply do better.

Call your members of Congress today (find your member of Congress). Urge them to support the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict (what is PPDC?). Place a “War Is Not the Answer” sign in your yard or on your bumper; engage in the Action Alerts sent by FCNL (free stickers and signs). Donate to FCNL to help further spread the message (donate). Don’t be idle; persist in the cause. As Mohandas Gandhi once so eloquently said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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