Letters to the Editor: Negotiation, not war, the answer

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus led by example. For me, there is something caring and tender about that scene. How do we simply love and serve one another? I read that maundy is a shortened form of the Latin word, mandatum, which means commission or commandment. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (Book of John, Chapter 13, Verse 34)
Fifty years ago, April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Riverside Church in New York City. His speech was entitled, “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence”. I recently listened to his lesson on Youtube. I share here some of my notes: “My conscience leaves me no other choice. . .We need a revolution of values, to change from a thing oriented society to a people oriented society. . .The pursuit of peace needs to replace the pursuit of war. . .We can no longer bow to the altar of retaliation. . . [War is using] power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. . .Transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace.”
About 3 weeks ago on April 4, 2017, I listened to Noam Chomsky talk on Democracy Now!. He wondered whatever happened to using “negotiated, diplomatic, initiatives” as a way of working things out — in order to avoid confrontations, aka violent oxymoron solutions. Negotiating diplomatic initiatives are great skills for any high school graduate, for any participant in our democratic society. A mission statement, perhaps for some high schools in the United States, might embrace this concept.
Some high schools have used reflection and writing as a way for a student to look at his/her behavior. The model was taught by William Glasser. It is called Reality Therapy. The questions went something like this: What are you doing? Is your behavior helping you to become a responsible member of your community? What is your plan for behaving responsibly in the future? How can we help you follow through on your plan? What gets in the way, making it hard for you to follow through? In what ways can you contribute to your community? Here is my question: Are my expectations too high? How is it that world leaders do not display behavior that I expect from adolescents?
Instead of negotiating with Korea, the United States, Japan and South Korea participated in military drills off the Korean Peninsula. (CNN, 4/6/2017) And what is this talk of a preemptive strike? Is that a fancy way of saying, “Watch out for a sucker punch?” “North Korea Warns U.S.-South Korea, Maneuvers are Driving [World] Towards Nuclear Disaster.” (zerohedge.com, Tyler Durden, 3/6/2017).
A few months ago, I heard myself gasp as I read on page 16 of The Week magazine, 1/20/2017. “The U.S. dropped 26,171 bombs last year — 3,027 more that in 2015. Four-fifths of the bombs were dropped in Syria and Iraq; the rest were dropped in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.” (McClatchyDC.com). And I actually believe that President Obama has a whole different set of reasoning abilities than our current president. Our current president is escalating U.S. military presence. In a January raid in Yemen, one Navy SEAL was killed and at least 11 women and children were killed along with 14 Al Qaeda militants. (Nabih Bulo and W.J.Hennigan, “What happened the night a U.S. commando was killed in combat, the first such death of Trump’s presidency.”,latimes.com, 2/4/2017)  “Early in March, 400 Marines were deployed to Syria. Nearly 300 army paratroopers were deployed to Iraq.” (W.J. Hennigan,latimes.com, 3/30/17)
On April 7, 59 tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from U.S. destroyers in the Mediterranean. They landed in Syria in the early morning. (Don’t start thinking cruise missiles have not been used by Presidents Obama and Bush. If you want details, check out “Countries Hit by U.S. Tomahawk Cruise Missiles since Desert Storm”, forbes.com.) On April 14,2017, the “U.S. drops the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan.” (CNN). How can this behavior change?
Even though Fay Honey Knopp died in 1995, I can still hear her direct calm voice in my mind. I can still see her twinkling eyes and her welcoming smile. I was introduced to her at Middlebury Quaker Friends Meeting. Honey tackled difficult situations. She worked with prisoners who were sex offenders. She worked at turning around a very vicious cycle.
She once wrote about what it was like to do her work, “how to stay rooted in the spiritual while actively pursuing justice, while being oppositional and confrontational, while being outraged, while all the time trying to reduce the pain in pain-filled people and a pain-filled society. Oftentimes, I tell myself, that may be my only mission: to reduce pain, and not increase it.”
I will go out with a song by Melanie DeMore. “You gotta put one foot in front of the other and lead with love. Put one foot in front of the other and lead with love.” When I sing it, I can listen and act on my beliefs.
Patricia Heather-Lea

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