On June 6, 2013, I attended a briefing titled, “Determined to Save Succeeding Generations from the Scourge of War”. The title comes from the opening line of the UN Charter.
There were four speakers on the panel and each touched upon different aspects of war. Before the speakers started a video was shown. The video contained actual footage of the aftermath of war. The video showed the suffering of women, children dying, footage of men who had been shot. The video gave the viewer an opportunity to actually witness the human and environmental impact of war. The video was difficult to watch, but provided the groundwork for the panel discussion.
Paul Seger began the discussion with a few lines from John Lennon’s well know song “Imagine”. He continued his presentation by analyzing the lines of the song. Seger concluded that the song presents the hopes of mankind, that as a community, we need to strengthen state hood and work together as a united front. The idea of bringing an end to war cannot be left to “dreamers”, but can be realized if many unite and take action as one. Negotiating for peace is the duty of the state but it is the people who must live in a peaceful manor and maintain the peace. Ralph Zacklin, a member of the panel reminded us that countries do not always engage in rational decisions and war is not a rational decision.
Another panel member talked about the effects of war and the strong impact war has on agriculture and the environment. War zones are often the areas that have significant HIV, malaria, and water born illnesses issues. War degrades the environment, making land unfit for continued agriculture. Even when combat ends and treaties are signed, landmines continue to explode, agricultural lands are left unfit for cultivating, water is often contaminated, people continue to suffer. The panel discussed how war limits democracy. It limits and oppresses women, children, and development. “Educate a woman and you educate a nation”, stated Jody Williams.
Ms. Williams discussed how women and children, who are to be “helped” by engaging in war, are also the ones who see first hand the effects of war. As Jody Williams pointed out war is about greed, lust for power or the desire to hold onto power. There is nothing heroic about war. “War is something for weak men to hide behind”. Ms. Williams then commented on Mr. Seger’s presentation. She emphasized the need to become actively engaged in bringing an end to armed conflict. She stated that 41.6 million are currently displaced by war and conflict.
“The world is over armed and peace is under funded”. The panel concluded that it is imperative for citizens to become actively engaged in bringing about the end of armed conflict.
May we join in efforts to beat swords into plowshares as we follow the Prince of Peace.