Beyond Militarism and War toward a Nonviolent World
The World Needs Love
I passionately believe that peace is possible. I also believe that it is possible for the human family to move beyond militarism; indeed it is already happening because millions of us have rejected the ‘bomb and the bullet’ and all the techniques of violence and are working to build a world based on the values of love, equality and dignity for all. The peoples of the world do not want war. We have had enough of this wastage of human resources and intelligence in feeding the death machinery of militarism while children die of starvation and poverty. These are not the ‘values’ we want to live by and the human family, particularly women, are uniting our voices as a powerful force to say ‘no’ no more of these destructive policies of bad governance and governments not acting in good faith.
Ten years ago in Feb 2003 millions of people around the world said ‘no’ to the Iraqi war and occupation, and since then millions around the world have protested against unjust government regimes, demanding dignity, demilitarization, development, and democracy. These massive peoples’ movements, for the most part peaceful, are being repressed by government forces whose policies of ongoing militarism, war, inequality, injustice, are being challenged by courageous individuals and global protests of solidarity by civil community both locally and internationally.
What unites these peoples movements is a new ‘consciousness’ that a good life with dignity, freedom, fairness, human security, is their right, and by the law of love and logic, the right of every man and woman. There is an increased awareness in the age of increased education and advanced communications that we live in a very rich world with enough for everyone’s’ need but not for everyone’s’ greed.
This increased awareness of social, economic and political injustice, which is destroying so many lives, is creating deep anger and frustration resulting in nonviolent revolution and protest movements to change systems that are repressive and unjust. We have seen not only the Arab Spring in the Middle East but also the rise of the ‘Occupy’ movements protesting the quest for profit and perpetual financial growth that has enriched a tiny minority while causing hardships, despair and devastation particularly among the marginalized and poor. The quest for perpetual financial growth and profits has ravaged the earth so that today we face unprecedented threats to the possibility of sustaining a liveable habitat for future generations. The dominance of the corporate media industrial military financial complex that dominates our lives everywhere and controls many government policies is now being challenged by peoples’ movements.
However, many acknowledge the corporate media military industrial complex is now so much in control that it seems a colossal task to try to change it; but try we must if there is to be a future for our children. The latest figures of world military expenditure is well over £l. 082 trillion, with the United Kingdom coming fourth in spending £39 billion. They plan to spend over £100 billion to renewal the nuclear trident submarines whilst announcing recently strict austerity cuts, with unemployed persons’ weekly payment of £64.00. The austerity cuts in U.K. are causing real hardships, with many people unemployed and young people in Northern Ireland and elsewhere forced to leave reluctantly their homes to seek employment in other countries.
There is a real sense of powerlessness, hopelessness amongst many young people which governments must address by diverting military funding into job creation, education, etc., to give hope and dignity to people. And hope too comes from people and their awakening and empowerment, especially many women in many communities working against violence, for social justice and change. This movement is exciting and inspiring. Many women know the pain of losing a child, they know the pain of war, and that ‘violence is not a solution, it is part of the problem’. They know that there will not be paramilitary or military solutions to their problems, only peaceful dialogue and talking amongst all the parties to the conflict will bring the much needed peace, which is a right of all the peoples, and necessary if there is to be development.
A demilitarized, peaceful nonviolent world is not a utopian dream; it is a right for all. Most people have never killed anyone but have struggled to live out their lives as joyfully and peacefully as possible. Most people know that human beings were not made for hatred and violence but to love and be loved. We all know in our hearts that it is not permitted to kill or be killed. So too for political activists who choose to work for change through peaceful resistance, it is important to remember that peaceful resistance means we do not resist injustice with death, either our own, or others, but rather through respect for life.
Building a culture of love and compassion is the culture of accepting the other and recognizing their right to dignity. I believe that if governments allowed people to grow up respecting human life, respect for women, respect for all people from all religions and from all countries, it would then be difficult to send out soldiers to kill others. This would end the arms trade, armies and militarism. I hope that we can all work together to abolish armed forces, weapons research, manufacturing and trading of weapons. We can do this by building a culture of love, replacing a culture of violence and death.
The great hope is that human beings are continually evolving in their thinking and we can replace military mindsets with creative ways of conflict prevention, unarmed civilian peacekeeping, etc. We are becoming more enlightened; as we abolished slavery so too we can abolish armies and base our human security not on force, or threat of force, but on compassion, human rights and international law. At the heart of international law is the principle of good faith. Governments have a legal responsibility to uphold all international laws and do so in good faith. Currently many government are not acting in good faith and not only refuse to meet the international treaties they have signed, such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but are also allowing a glorification of militarism, and in all our cultures we see a creeping militarization of society.
In the UK we are, through the media and many other ways, being conditioned to see armies and militarism as acceptable and ‘good career’ choices instead of being training grounds to teach people how to kill, and increasingly women and children in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan through the use of drones, and targeted assassinations. Within the military there is a great deal of violence against women, including rape and sexual violence, and it is to be hoped that women will challenge this culture of violence and militarism calling for the abolition of NATO, which armed with weapons of mass destruction is a danger to civilians rather than their protection.
However, I believe that more than anything ‘the world needs love’, particularly the young people in whom we can put our trust and belief, and in the goodness of men and women and their potential to be the best they can be as truly magnificent human beings.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Jun 2013.
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