It is the season of Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men but I don’t see any peace on earth or goodwill from men. I see war and poverty, famine, homelessness and agony. I see hatred. Why all the violence?
I was born into war and it has been war ever since.
In high school, we studied the history of all the wars from the beginning of time. I asked the teacher why we had to go through this exercise. He said we study this to learn from our history to assure that we don’t make the same mistakes again. I wrote a paper listing as many wars as I could find and indicated how we didn’t seem to be getting the message and we were doing the same thing over and over. The teacher said I wasn’t getting the point. I got the point all right, but as far as I was concerned studying history was a waste of time. I got an F.
Scientists tell us we are the most intelligent species on the planet. I’m not sure they’ve got that right either. Maybe whales and dolphins who have bigger brains they we do are the smarter species. I don’t think they study war.
If you go to Google and ask how many wars are going on right now on earth, you get a rather interesting answer. One site lists all the current wars and number 32 ongoing conflicts – 33 if you include the war on drugs, but that depends on whether you consider that a war. Then they go on to list other conflicts that are not necessarily full scale wars and that totals 22. That makes 54 separate civil uprisings, civil disturbances, insurgencies, and just plain war occurring every day, somewhere on this planet. They even have a map with beautiful salmon colors indicating all the places on earth that exist in political instability. The United States is listed as having moderate political instability. Only a few places are listed as having low political instability. No area is considered completely stable.
The death numbers are staggering. One site lists an estimate of 1,455,590 deaths in Iraq alone. Another site states that 10,000 military deaths occurred so far this year in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and areas in Africa. And that is probably a low estimate and doesn’t include civilian deaths, many of those children. During World War I less than five percent of civilians were casualties. Today 75% or more are non-combatants killed or maimed in wars. War is causing untold economic and social damage to many countries. Famine is prevalent. Disease rampant.
As I write this the United States is actively bombing seven different countries and 11 million people are displaced. The seven countries are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Afghanistan has endured our military combat for 15 years making it the longest war in United States history. And 1.3 million people have been killed since 2001.
Why can’t we stop? It’s time to say the wars are over.
As we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, for those of us who are Christians, and those who know him only as a prophet or as a peacemaker, can’t we finally learn how to say no to war. If we truly are the most intelligent species on earth can’t we find a way to deal with our differences in a peaceful way? Can’t we have peace on earth?
Think about this as you open your gifts.