Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.
(Cont'd) A Prescription for Peace
Fri Nov 17, 2006 17:10

(Cont'd) A Prescription for Peace

18. It is important that one develop an empathic concern for others, the willingness to place one’s self into “the shoes” of another person, the capacity to view the world from the perspective of folks unlike one’s self, even those of a foreign nation, a resolve to overcome the narrow-minded confines of one’s own cultural conditioning demanding that we glorify the deeds of our own nation, while simultaneously damning those of our enemy, a blind presumption that we, as a nation, are always right whereas our enemy is, without question, always wrong, a programming that has taught us to live our lives according to the Lex Talionis (red in tooth and claw) Law of Retribution, that there is nothing wrong with that of hating one’s enemy, that during a time of war we should be proud of a willingness to kill the enemy, that any effort to place ourselves in the shoes of an enemy (to want to understand, and therefore forgive, him as a human being who is in no way different from that of ourselves) has become equated with that of having become an apostate, a turncoat, a traitor, a disloyal American willing to collaborate with the enemy, an arrogance so profoundly ignorant that we, as citizens, seem to be left with little choice but to follow the Machiavellian edict to simply “do away with” those we have been taught to hate.
19. It is important that we develop an appreciation for the fact of death, the fact that each and everyone of us will one day die, an existential reminder that if we are to be good stewards of our lives, we must live each day as if it was our last day on Earth, that, because we have only a limited amount of time to get done “what must be done,” we must take seriously the imperative that we live a good and decent life, for without such an inclination, we will certainly miss the mark, miss the existential responsibility to make the most of our lives.
20. Finally, it is necessary that we comprehend our responsibility in regards to the future, in regards to those who will populate the planet once we die, the mandate that we respect, that we have a true reverence for, life, that we honor and respect the needs of those who will follow in our footsteps, that we be willing to defend the Earth from the awful onslaught of progress, that we, as a people, be willing to live with less, that we put an end to the practice of plundering and pillaging our planet, that we understand that anything less than this may well lead to the decimation, perhaps even the annihilation of, the human race.

Clearly then, a partisan approach to anything results in children having little choice but to believe what they have been told, what has more or less been collectively “crammed down their throats,” effectively depriving them of an opportunity to know “the facts,” the facts, of course, being the essential ingredients, no doubt the bedrock, of truth. Even though Christians (primarily those of the religious right/the fundamentalists) have done a great deal to muddy the “waters of truth,” the prophet Jesus (in John 8:32) promised that “the truth will set us free,” that an awareness of the facts, an informed understanding of the way things are, a thorough “sifting of the chaff from the wheat,” will provide a solid foundation from which to launch a search for truth, a place from which to begin, a progressive opportunity to figure out what should be discarded, what ought to be retained, and what needs to be added in order that youth might be educated in an objective and honest manner.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be filled with fear, the fear of loosing our jobs, afraid that someone might be a bit upset by what we say or do; let’s reverse course. Why not strive to “upset a few apple carts,” strive to teach the things that nobody wants to hear, demonstrate the courage of our convictions, risk the consequences of telling students “the truth.” Otherwise, if we choose not to do such a thing, we will be forced to face the fact that we have become “partners in crime,” willing participants in having chosen to lead our sons and daughters down the “yellow brick road” of arrogance, which leads to inhumanity, war, and then to death. Thus, I believe that we must demand that we teach our students “the truth,” demand that we teach each and every side of each and every issue, enabling students to transcend, to move beyond, the bondage of personal and collective bias, to move beyond a self-inclined willingness to bask in the twilight of social and cultural ignorance, demand that we do our best to set humanity free from the shackles of self and society in order that we, as a people, might one day thirst after righteousness, that we might be more inclined to love God, our neighbor, and perhaps even that of our enemy, placing us on the firmest of ground, the freshly prepared path of peace leading to the promise land of life, liberty, and justice, not just for us, but for all of mankind.

No doubt something for all of us to consider since it is our very own children, that of the next generation, who will one day inherit the future, and thus govern our nation. Accordingly, it is imperative that we ask who will be most qualified, most able, to take the reigns of leadership; statesmen eager to build a democracy committed to peace, love, and justice, or another bunch of thugs anxiously awaiting their turn to rule the world with the “shock and awe” of their most recently developed weapons of death?

Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.
November 14, 2006

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