A while back I posted a series of monographs on “the promise of peace.”
It’s something I’ve been working on for about a year, and a lifetime. It is a simple idea, and at the same time difficult to comprehend, easy therefore to dismiss out of hand.
It has little to do with an absence of conflict, because conflict will be with us always as we humans bump up against one another in the river of life. It is how we choose to deal with that conflict, and it has to do with how we view the world.
As I wrote this, Israel and Palestine were lobbing rockets at one another; Republicans and Democrats are wrestling at the edge of a fiscal cliff; government forces and rebels were killing each other and civilians by the thousands in Congo and at a dozen other hot spots around the globe; Allen West and Patrick Murphy were fighting tooth and nail for recounted votes in a Florida congressional race; and in my own family there is unresolved conflict that has been simmering for years.
If we choose to see the world as a dangerous place and deal with conflict at the point of a gun, there is of course no possibility of peace. There is posturing, and positioning for dominance, but no peace. But it is not inevitable; it is a choice we make each by each, moment by moment.
By now, Mr. West has conceded the election, acknowledging that he would not be able to surmount the vote deficit, and issued a statement saying “I pray he (Mr. Murphy) will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.” To his credit, he has chosen a peaceful response to an outcome that went against his own wishes, and he was gracious in his concession statement. I doubt that is the last the Florida electorate will see of Mr. West, and though I disagree with his politics I see him as a necessary counterweight to the radical fringe on the left.
It’s there in the land of the Tea Parties and the Wall Street protesters that we most feel the passion that fires the right and the left. But it’s in the cauldron in the middle, where the heat from both sides brings a temperature to cast the ingot most pure for a democracy.
No radical right or left must ever find a way to power in these United States. That would be the swiftest end to our great experiment. This new congress has lost many of it’s most able moderates and that will make compromise difficult as those on the fringes will stay focused on their own radical causes, and by extension, their own egos.
So we have had another presidential election here in the United States, and no one died, no buildings burned, no cars were overturned in the streets and set on fire. It is an uncommon event in this world and we take it more for granted than we should. Though we complain loud and long about the unconscionable amount of money spent and the acrimony of the discourse, it is above all else a peaceful transition.
When the score is finally tallied, there are always those who want to take their state and go home, forgetting that if ever we are to have a home, it is right here. The secessionists have the right to send in their petitions, and by law the government has to respond to the petitions if all the criteria is fulfilled. It is of course a waste of time and resources, an exercise in bloviation and posturing, just about even or slightly below the juvenile sport of passing gas and lighting it on fire.
Daniel Miller of the Texas Nationalist Movement said on the Hannity show that, “the polling we have done internally in our organization and in every county in Texas is that we would carry a majority of Texas.” So, what Mr. Miller is saying is that if you don’t get your way in a democratic election, leave. Pull out. Now THAT’S a lesson we want to pass on to our posterity and to fledgling democracies the world over. I wouldn’t have thought that when the going gets tough, Texans would bail.
Congress still seems intent on not getting much done, but as James Garfield famously said in 1877, “Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature ... If the next centennial does not find us a great nation...it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."
I hate it when people say stuff like that, don’t you?