Column: Let Peace Begin With You And I

November 11, 2020

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

November 11th, Armistice Day marked the end of World War I in 1918, a return to peace after unprecedented devastation. That war – mainly in Europe – was known as “the war to end all wars.”

That hope was set aside when within two subsequent decades, World War II began in Europe with the Nazi war machine wreaking havoc. With gas chambers and ovens used to kill several million, humankind was faced with basic questions regarding civilization.

With those two major wars and a number of minor ones, an estimated 100 million people were killed in hostile conflicts across the globe in the 20th century.

It’s easy to blame that tragic track record on “those people,” but we all have ownership in shifting the war mindset. Our self-awareness, remembering that peace begins with ourselves, are steps toward that goal.

I was reminded of this when Hurricane Paulette hit Bermuda in September. Two of our grandsons spent that night at our home.

I had the role of sitting with the 5 and 3-year-old to encourage them to go to sleep. As the stormy conditions whipped up outside, sleeping was the furthest thing from their minds. As a result, I found myself becoming increasingly impatient – a war mindset.

After some time, it hit me that I was hosting a storm in my mind, reacting to the boys. That awareness allowed me to claim my peace. Within minutes of that awakening, our grandsons fell off to sleep. No joke; at that same time, the stormy winds seemed to subside. I had remembered that peace begins with me.

We all have an interest in shifting our mindsets and fostering peace, given global circumstances. After the tragedies of the last century, the New millennium has continued the tragic trend:

  • President Dwight Eisenhower – a ‘hero’ of World War II – in his goodbye speech to his nation, warned the American people of the military industrial complex. He noted that a powerful lobby – who profited from war – pushed a policy that made military action the more likely option in resolving conflict. That warrior was calling for a shift to a peaceful mindset, but his new vision has been ignored thus far.
  • In fact, early in the new millennium, the United States began waging two substantial wars in the Middle East. They invaded Iraq in pursuit of “weapons of mass destruction,” and Afghanistan to displace the Taliban. An estimated three-quarters of a million lives have been lost at a cost of some $1.3 trillion. The Afghan conflict continues after 20 years.

In Bermuda, we can all do our part, remembering that peace begins with ourselves and in our relations with one another. This in our families, neighbourhoods, workplaces and wider communities, which is increasingly important as we navigate the challenges of the new Normal.

Of course, this conversation has direct implications for those young people on the island who are caught up in intergang conflict.

This is arguably collateral damage of the war on drugs – a global campaign that was initiated nefariously by U.S. President Nixon. A number of jurisdictions – such as Portugal – have transformed their approach to substance abuse from a criminalizing model to a health/restorative one, resulting in lower addiction rates and more peaceful communities.

Collectively, we can play a part in the implications of the war on the planet, doing our part to sustain the environment.

In reflecting on that 100+ -year-old Armistice, we are reminded that peace within each of us leads towards a peaceful planet.

- Glenn Fubler


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