As billions of people in the world pause and take a breath — whether it be in observance of winter solstice, or Hanukkah, or the Sunni and Shia Muslims' celebration of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad on Rabi' al-awwal, or Christians' Christmas custom of honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, or indigenous people who pause in their own forms of meditation — a question still lingers: Why on earth does the world spend $2 trillion every year on warfare and the U.S. fattens itself on the wars it conducts?
This is happening while the social fabric of the U.S. and most other countries becomes painfully frayed. Countless children and adults worldwide suffer, desperate to find safe havens; catastrophic climate troubles increase; hunger and poverty rise — meanwhile the toxic mess of the industrial age is creeping deeper into our whole ecosystem.
Musician Patty Griffin stated things simply when she wrote the following lyrics for her 2013 song, "Go Wherever You Wanna Go," as her dad was dying:
You don't ever have to go to war no more
Never have to go to war no more
Wear them boots and swim that icy shore now
You don't ever have to go to war no more.
"My father was a veteran, disappointed at the end of his life with the way things were going in this country, embittered by it," she said in a 2013 interview with Texas Monthly. "And it made me notice things, watching him pass away, about how, from the time he was born to the time he died, America became an absolutely unrecognizable place."
In the end, I leave readers with this question: Would you take a vow if you thought that you could help shift the course of history from the trajectory we're on now, to one that affirms life and ends wars?
If so, visit www.WorldBeyondWar.org, a global movement working to end all wars, and sign the Declaration of Peace that reads:
"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."
The worldwide World Beyond War effort was launched in 2014. Individuals and groups all over the world are invited to take the vow and join in the planning.
After all, in the spirit of this holiday season, Matthew 5:9 states, "blessed are the peacemakers."
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.