Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace
* * *
Russians and Ukrainians are killing each other by the thousands. Putin has his reasons. Every fool does. Zelensky has his reasons. Every victim does.
Ukraine has its allies. Russia does too. Countries have their reasons: Maintain a balance of power. Don’t let one country get it all.
That’s what precipitated World War I. Russia was obliged to side with Serbia, Germany with Austria, France and England with Russia. And so it went.
Millions of young men were slaughtered even though there’d been multiple opportunities to avoid war. There’s nothing like war to make smart men foolish. It’s the march of folly.
Reason is critical. But it’s not sufficient. People are riddled with powerful dark instincts.
One year on and Russia and Ukraine are still at war.
I can’t imagine no countries. I don’t even want to try. I like countries.
I like diversity. I like different languages, apparel, music, art, cuisines, religions. I’d fight to keep the world diverse, to save the forest and blow up the parking lot. Diversity is healthy. Maybe that’s worth dying for. Diversity sustains nature. Monocultures deplete it.
Countries and religions aren’t the problem. People are. People were killing people long before any country or religion existed.
(Imagine there’s no people.)
And yet most people don’t want war. Only a few do. The rest pay for it.
In 1954 most people and most countries, including the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, France, and England, wanted a peace settlement in Southeast Asia. The U. S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (a devout Presbyterian!) did not. He wanted to stop communism before it ran the table. And that meant killing commies.
It didn’t matter to him that most people in Southeast Asia only wanted to be free of Western colonialism. It didn’t matter that nationalism, not communism, drove their resistance. All that was known, and yet fools rushed in.
Dulles threatened “massive retaliation” if China or Russia meddled in our business. And he was considered brilliant.
The march of folly is led by reasonable persons and the duped follow. The financiers wave the flag, sing the national anthem, and count their profits.
I keep imagining all the people livin’ life in peace. But it’s not working.
Anybody know what will?
Folly is origami, with many planes and edges. It’s what you make of it.
Ah yes indeed. Folly can be jolly as your venerable Follies has proven time and time again.
You cannot have Peace solely on its own. It is comparable to a relationship. It requires commitment, compromise, love, sacrifice, acceptance, and unfortunately conflict. History is violent.
War is absolutely driven by political will, however without public support, it will fizzle. Those who stand idly by and don’t get their hands dirty are the fools. A peace march does not resolve conflict alone.
You are so right about war beginning with humanity before nations or religions. My preacher Dad said war and violence and sin are due to original sin, the tradeoff for free will. I don’t know. I know we are all capable of horrible behavior just as we are all capable of great love. Ironically I’m listening to WB Yeats brilliant poem, Easter 1916 about the Irish Rebellion, and the violence that often comes with freedom: ” A terrible beauty is born.”
While an answer to your question might be elusive, perhaps even “blowin’ in the wind”, nevertheless a few thoughts could be suggested. Einstein remarked, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Obviously, we need a radical reform in societal and governmental structures with a focus on persons of good will making greater efforts to understand rather than dominate other countries. The work of peacemaking is hard; the work of war making is easy. Reason alone is “not sufficient”, as the so-called “best and brightest” have led us into many misguided wars.
A proverb says, “A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool can learn from his friends.” Wisdom learns from experience, seeks to make helpful judgments and maintains an open and compassionate heart, looking at the long-range, not merely the short-term. Wisdom learns, even from so-called “enemies”. Intelligence does not guarantee wisdom and vice versa, but it is possible to have both.
As you commented, “People are the problem.” On the other hand, people still have potential. However, that potential needs to be “made flesh” in significant ways in our structures.
Imagination and mescaline get you to about the same place. From the outer rim of the universe looking back at Earth, we are mere placeholders in time for the next, which is growing to look like an AIkind (artificial intelligent with kind added). In Montaigne’s essay “To philosophize is to learn to die,” Horace is quoted saying, “Man never can plan fully to avoid what any hour may bring.”
The pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest is the focus of Barbara W. Tuchman’s 1984 book The March of Folly, From Troy to Vietnam. In my mind, John Foster Dulles was a product of his religious rituals, temperament, and the times. In 1952, Eisenhower and Nixon received 55 percent of the vote, pushed from the “right by extremists of anti-Communism.” Dulles wrote the foreign policy section of the convention platform. Dulles shaped and benefitted the movement, but liberals were there too, including Justice William O. Douglas and Senator Mike Mansfield.
In short, as in our days, no one and everyone is responsible for Vietnam, Ukraine, and name a country of your choosing. Tolerance and resentment reside in all of us.
“What will?” You don’t ask the easy questions. I am currently feeling so down at how well international “leaders” are “playing the dozens” that I can’t see a viable path to the peaceful daylight that your question seeks. At one time or another, who and what haven’t been expendable in the name of power and profit? One US leader who genuinely believed in peace and love of neighbor was Jimmy Carter, a man ahead of his time, who was laughed out of office (in part due to dark negotiations between the Reagan campaign and Iran’s leaders re: hostage release). Are you sure your question isn’t a Zen koan??? We seem to be living in the theater of the absurd.
O, I thank you for telling the true stories of how we got here. I resonate with all you said & feel. And I so appreciate what others have shared.
Every day I get up & make a conscious decision to choose lite; to turn to the lite; and choose off of anger, fear, worry – large and small – after I recognize & process those dark, disempowering “feelings & illusions”.
Collectively, thru out history – as we gathered in families, tribes, cities, countries, & now as one human community-we have always had guidance – inspiration – prophesies of peace… we are so much more alike than different; and I, too, celebrate the rich diversity in nature and in humanity.
So, I am grateful for what I have…and what I don’t have ( war in my backyard)… and it has never been easy; but others have carried forth, with effort, blood and treasure – an “ever advancing civilization “…& the folly of destructive war & violence will reveal the truth that crises bring us together… and a new Folly will be a place we celebrate together as we Create Great Peace – one moment – one day at a time – together… and in the meantime as the Dali Lama once said, when asked… “Help one another; and if you can’t help – please, please don’t hurt one another”.
I love this forum, giving & receiving; thank you🙏🏼
If the ego could be removed from the equation we would find more peace in the world. Who will “win” the battle?? As the powers that be walk away, with their heads held high, stroking their egos, they are blinded by the fact the No one “wins” a war.
Reflection. Yes to do what you can and if you can’t – do no harm.
Our denomination is losing people. Losing pastors, bishops. etc.So now they are looking to re invent the wheel ? by digging in and asking congregational members to become lay servants. and leaders. Just as methodism started.
I was raised protestant in a non denominational church in Africa. It accepted all. I fuss because the church to which I now belong is not inclusive. I am asked to be patient. That the church will change to be more inclusive. I don’t know. if it will. Perhaps i need to join with folks who already are welcoming.