War In Our Time / Peace In Our Time

Is there a recipe for “peace”?

war peace scan one As a founding member of my high school Environmental Club who ended up working for an oil company, a part of me wondered whether I was being true to my values. I learned a lot about environmental science while I was there and concluded it was OK, for values of OK.

But it got me to wondering further, what WERE my values. Over time I noticed some of my values were “inherited without thought” and I don’t just mean as a child. One guy told me if I wasn’t earning 5 times my age in thousands of dollars I was a loser. Another told me if I didn’t make Management vs. Technical track in two years or less I was a loser. Another… well you get the idea.

Finally, ONE friend shocked my world when he asked, “Do you BUY that?”. I thought, OMG you mean I have a CHOICE?!

Back to high school again – back then my buddies and I read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” with “Ice Nine” and I loved it. I read “Slaughterhouse Five” with ”Tralfamadorians” and loved it. That all led me to read “Mother Night” with the awesome insight to a teen that, no matter what you SAID, what you DID defined you. (In later developments the power of what you say became clear to me as well).

ANYway – in college I further worried about War and Peace (not the book the reality – as I could have been drafted blah blah) – and of course about the Bomb (“Dr. Strangelove”) and – well I worried a LOT.

So I studied how might it be possible to end war forever (and also whether there was a God or gods or… arghh). And I found out – oops maybe war serves an evolutionary (or other) purpose in the Bigger Picture Of Life And Death and that perhaps a more viable tactic was to learn how to stay out of in between the grinding wheels of economic machinery when war was in play AND to find out what allowed war to be in play vs. what discouraged it.

Recall Clausewitz, “War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means.” – or T. Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” or simplest, “If you have a carrot and a stick you can accomplish more than if you have a carrot alone.”

So strive to make sure others have enough (for values of enough), count on self interest as a universal principle, keep a strong stick, and push for enlightened avarice – something like that.

Short Reading List
Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut, 1979
On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, Donald Kagan, 1995


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