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FROM THE ARENA
Column for the Anchorage Times 13 January 1991
by Wayne Anthony Ross

Suppose you lived in a small village where the villagers had to provide their own law enforcement. And suppose one of your neighbor's homes was invaded by a gang of punks who raped and killed several members of the neighbor's family. And suppose those punks, even though they have stolen everything left in your neighbor's house, now announce that they intend to stay there permanently.

What do you think should be the proper course of action to be taken by you and the rest of your fellow villagers? Here are some choices:

1. Take the position that it is not really your concern. After all, it wasn't your house that was invaded! You really don't want to get involved! Sure they are punks, but they haven't bothered you directly, so why should you do anything about it at all? Go about your normal business and forget it.

2. Take the position that since no one likes violence, "PEACE" is the only real answer. Advocate "PEACE". Hold a "PEACE" vigil. Get some of the other villagers to join you. Light a candle. Maybe light a bunch of candles. Pray for "PEACE".

3. Take the position that everything can be settled through negotiation. Set up a meeting with the punks. Or better yet, set up several meetings. Reason with them. Cultivate dialogue. Negotiate with them. Maybe make some concessions to them.

4. Surround the neighbor's house. Threaten to lay siege to the house. Threaten to starve the punks out. Sure, the neighbors who survived the invasion of their home, and are still in the house, might find this a bit dicey, but it is best to avoid violence. After all, someone could get hurt.

5. Get your friends and neighbors together. Work out a plan to storm the house and free those innocent people still alive in the house. Storm the house. Throw the punks out. Kick some butts. Apprehend and prosecute any surviving punks upon their capture. (Warning: Dangerous. Someone could get hurt!)

Which choice would you make?

In a small way, the above scenario is what faces the United States and other countries, in the Middle East Crisis, as a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The Mid-East problem is on a larger scale, but the moral, physical, spiritual, and ethical considerations are, or should be, basically the same. One of our neighbor's homes (Kuwait) has been invaded by a gang of punks (Saddam and his crowd). Innocent residents of Kuwait have been raped and/or killed. What should we do about it?

By the time you read this, one group of Anchorage residents will have made a choice. On Saturday, January 12th, they scheduled a "PEACE" rally for the park strip. They told interested participants to bring "a candle , and a friend" to the rally .There were announcements made about this rally in local churches.

I did go to church and hear the rally announcements. I did not attend the "PEACE" rally itself.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy peace as much as anyone. It is simply that I believe that "PEACE", while generally good, cannot, and should not, always be our immediate goal especially in our present, real world. Right now there are too many things here on earth that need correcting. We can strive for peace after we correct those problems and perhaps, from time to time, we'll achieve it temporarily. But only death will ensure eternal peace, and even then, eternal peace is ensured only if we act properly here on earth.

Theodore Roosevelt condemned the "'doctrinaires' whose eyes are so firmly fixed on the golden vision of universal peace that they cannot see the grim facts of real life until they stumble over them to their own hurt, and, what is much worse, to the possible undoing of their fellows." No pacifist, Roosevelt maintained that "aggressive fighting for the right, is the noblest sport the world affords"! By the term "right", as in "fighting for the right" , Roosevelt meant the "right" goals such as Justice, Equality, and Freedom for every man and woman. Roosevelt believed that until these "right" goals could be achieved and provided to everyone, simply preaching "PEACE" as "the highest good" often serves as a excuse for "cowardice and sloth".

Are we our brother's keeper? I believe we are. I believe we have a duty to come to the aid of another, whenever we are needed, and that the duty to help others applies to countries as well as individuals. If we saw a woman being raped, would we be justified in simply ignoring it and going on our way? Obviously not? But is there any real difference when it is an entire country being raped? Don't we have a duty to intervene there also?

There are two kinds of peace. One is the peace that comes from the absence of war, and the absence of physical conflict. The other type of peace is a sort of inner peace, a peace within oneself that is only achieved through a realization that we have done all we can reasonably do to help our fellow man. The peace that comes from an absence of conflict is an easier peace to obtain than inner peace, but inner peace is much more rewarding. Inner peace is REAL peace. And sometimes, when another is in trouble and needs our help, we can only achieve real peace, inner peace, by swiftly going to their rescue, with all the weapons we have, and all the fight that is in us!


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