Those of you who have visited this blog and left comments on the past two “peace” postings have written about at least two kinds of peace: global and individual. Anyone who has lived more than seventy years has known the lack of global peace.
In 1950, the United States, as part of the UN forces, entered the Korean War. Daily, the newspapers and fledging television programs brought us news of what was happening on that far-off peninsula. Pusan, Inchon, Yalu River, the Chosin Reservoir and its bitter winter, Seoul, stalemate, armistice, police action became part of our vocabulary.
For three years the battle raged north and south of the 38th parallel. At one point, the militia of the UN got close to Korea’s border with China. A massive number of Chinese soldiers repulsed them. Because MacArthur wanted to invade China, President Truman, commander-in-chief, relieved him of his duties. This caused an uproar in the United States. My father had no liking for MacArthur after his actions in World War II in which, according to my dad, “the general was interested only in the limelight.” So Dad applauded President Truman’s actions. Many didn’t.
On July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed. Tomorrow—Monday—will be the 64th anniversary of that signing. Officially, that armistice left North and South Korea still at war. Many American newspapers maligned President Truman for conducting a “police action” and not fighting until the United Nations won. According to Wikipedia, “recent scholarship puts the full battle death toll on all sides at just over 1.2 million.”
In college, I met a young man who’d fought in Korea. Like most soldiers, he didn’t talk about his experiences, especially at Chosin. However, everyone who met him during those college years noted a maturity beyond his age.
Since that war, our newspapers and television stations have taken us to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A college friend wrote a poignant poem about that and about the Oneness we all share. Of course, we then had the years of war in Vietnam. After Vietnam we had the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia and the holocaust there.
Then we had El Salvador and Nicaragua. My poetry-writing friend went to Nicaragua to help those driven from their homes. I feared for her during those months because in El Salvador four social activists from the United States had been murdered as well as Bishop Óscar Romero. Thankfully, my friend came home safe and rededicated herself to peace and non-violent protest.
Between then and now, wars have acquainted us with countries many of us couldn’t find on the map or visualize. Israel, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya, Syria. And more. So many more.
So the question arises: Is there ever any possibility of peace? One of the slogans of World War II was—“The War to End All Wars.” Instead of that happening, the trenches of 1914-1918 led to World War II. Soon—on August 4, we will “celebrate” the 103rd anniversary of Britain’s entry into War World I.
Is there no possibility of peace? Ever since World War II, which the United States entered when I was in kindergarten and could read headlines, I have read a great deal about war because I’ve wanted to know “Why?” Why do we take one another’s lives? Why do we send the youth of our countries to fight?
So next week, I hope to share a final posting about my discovery—yours, too, I suspect—about peace starting with one. With me. With you. It is that Oneness that speaks to me of possible peace—perhaps only within ourselves. But if one of us can change, perhaps all of us can. Could that be? Could it?