Essays and Theories

H.R. 808:
It's Time To Be Aggressive For Peace.
William A. Spriggs
C: fall of 2002

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross." From a speech by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, at the end of Korean War. Quoted in The Washington Spectator, Vol. 29, No. 4, Feb. 15, 2003.

As I write this piece, George W. Bush is aggressively seeking the ouster of Saadam Hueisein by force. The possibe dreadful consequences of this historic moment in America's history did not escape me, and it was the last straw in what I considered my angonizing innability to change events. At least, I could particpate in one of America's time-honored tradtions, and take pen in hand and express my thoughts to my local newspaper editor.

The current administration's new aggressive policy is about to pass a line in the sand that was established for me in a history lesson that occurred one day in 1955 through a simple visual. My teacher pulled out a Dollar Bill from her purse and promotely announced, "This is why America is great!" She promoted our attention to the back of the paper bill and told us to focus our attention on the American bald eagle. There in the right oval was the eagle with its wings and legs spread in the four directions of the winds, nestled behind a chest protecitive American flag. Over the head of the eagle was a cluster of 13 stars representing the orginal 13 Colonies and in its beak was a banner that flapped in the wind and read in Latin: E PLURABUS - UNUM: FROM THE MANY -- ONE. "Now draw your attention to what the eagle has in both of its claws," she said. "You will see a olive branch being held in the left claw, which represents Peace, and on the right you will see a cluster of arrows which represents War." As a final thrust in her simple visual demonstration, she quietyly, yet firmly added: "The head of the eagle is turned to the garland of peace for a reason: We are a nation of peace and we do not start wars. We believe in a strong national defense because we believe that it is the best way to protect our American values; aggressive action against others is not an American value." Her final remark left the indelible impression in my impressionable young mind that has lasted for almost fifty years: "We believe that this restraint is the best lesson that our democrocy can give to the world."

In the summer of 2002, a progressive website emailed me a request to sign a petition started by some grandmother in Ohio, or someplace out west, that would be sent to the White House requesting the White House to support the creation a of Department of Peace. At the time, I had no idea that such an idea was more than just a pipe dream, and I signed the petition and emailed it into the ether without much thought. But it was not until after the fall 2002 elections and the beating of the war drums to oust Sadaam Hussein that I decided that such an idea really was important enough to investigate further. Searching the web, I quickly found that such a proposal not only did exsist, but that it was a formal piece of legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Kucinich of the 10th CD of Ohio. I wondered outloud: "Damn, I'm a well-read individual, why haven't I heard about this in the media?"

Introduced into the U.S. House of Representative on July 11, 2001 -- exactly 60 days before the events of Septerber 11, 2001 -- H.R. 2459 faded away into the mist of shock, greif, anger, and the events that led up to the just response in Afganistan.

The proposed legislation opens with its findings that over 100 milloion people have died in the 20th century alone and that "...violence seems to be an overarching theme in the world, encompassing personal, group, national, and international conflict, extending the production of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction which have been developed for use on land, air, sea, and in space...such conflict is often taken as a reflection of the human condition without questioning whether the structures of thought, word, and deed with the people of the United States have inherited are any longer sufficient."

But to me, the most important finding in H.R. 2459: "We are in a new millennium, and the time has come to review age-old challenges with new thinking wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence, but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of the human awareness..." (underline mine). In other words, ultimately, we realized down deep that armed conflict does not bring peace and that we should be aggressively searching for alternatives.

In addition to the establishment of a Cabinet level Secretary of Peace, there would also include the following under secretaries: Assistant Secretary for Peace Education and Training; an Assistant Secretary for Domestic Peace Activities; an Assistant Secretary for Technology for Peace; an Assistant Secretary for Arms Control and Disarmament; an Assistant Secretary for Peaceful Coexistence and Nonviolent Conflict Resolution; an Assistant Secretary for Human and Economic Rights; and a General Counsel. I know that one of the first aguments against the establishment of the Department of Peace would be that it would just create another complex, bungling beauacratic agency. But, then I would counter that point, that at least it would not waste taxpayer money on endless military systems that continue to prepetuate failed policys of stoping conflicts in the world through the "domination and control" philosphy of Macavellian "Real Politick." Putting your foot on someone's neck and grinding their face into the ground will gain you control for a short time but it will not gain the respect of their children who will witness your abuse -- and they will one day grow up -- and remember.

With the aggressive Bush administration controlling the Bully Pulpit and both houses of Congress, it is declaring that now, more than at any other time in our history, America must take the inititive against all "evildoers" while we have the chance; to take history by the horns and dicate our own destiny and remove potential threats to our democracy before they have a chance to grow into even larger perils

This is not my America. My America is Mom and Apple pie, high school football rallies and proms, open town meetings, tolerance of other culures and ideas, a free unslanted press, and most all, a genuine compassion and concern for the welfare of others. My America does not start wars because it believes it can "head off evil at the pass." My America does not start wars period. My America is not a bully Alpha male pushing aside all he thinks are weak and insignificant and declaring all that he believes is right .

I say we give Peace a chance and call for the establishment of H.R. 2459, (which was changed to HR 1673, and now HR 808) an Act to establish a Department of Peace. It is time for our human species to evolve to a higher level of human awareness.

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