As I stood at the anti-war rally in New York this morning besieged by the rabid reborn cult of Lyndon LaRouche, a terrible thought occurred to me: Throughout all of the articles written and arguments condemning the upcoming war, regardless of political affiliation, I have yet to find a single voice of peace. It’s quite remarkable really. No one has bothered to oppose this war, or any other in the last thirty years, based solely on the principle that violence and war are antithetical to a rational society.
Surely violence and war are understandable and inevitable given the realities of economic scarcity, religious zealotry, nationalistic fervor and the host of divisive ideologies that separate us as homo sapiens. But this is precisely the problem: We all are ‘homo sapiens’. We all face and share the aforementioned realities – and many others. Some face certain ones more than others. Some have it better than others. Most tend to blame their struggles on every one else. Sometimes that is right and sometimes that is wrong. However, above [or below] the morass of struggle that is the life of homo sapiens, there is something common – we cannot live alone.
Sure one can believe that they can either drop out or dominate at some point: Individually or collectively; by cleverness or by force [in either instance]. But we still must live with each other. We still share friends, enemies, a planet… So what is the world we want to live in? Not the we of religion, not the we of the state, not the we of institutions that divide us, but we, ‘homo sapiens’.
A couple of years ago I watched a program on PBS about the conscientious objectors in World War II. These were not people who deferred service because of politics or ideology – these were people knew that violence is wrong. Needless to say, I broke down in tears at the end of the program. My father once told me that even though he did not feel that he could carry a gun, he would have volunteered to serve in some non-military capacity in World War II. That is certainly admirable, but it doesn’t come close to the conviction of the objectors. We didn’t know what to do with them. We’ve never known what to do with them, but they are right. They stand for us as homo sapiens. They understand the we are common – what we share is our lives, our struggles, our planet. And in being common, an act of violence against others is an act of violence against the self.
I sometimes wonder what happened to the spirit of Kant, Marx, Gandhi, King–the spirit of universalism, of humanity. But I still see it in some ways. I still see it in the occasional comfort offered by strangers. I still see it in the process of collective artistic endeavors. I still see it in the spirit of those who grow gardens in the middle of cities. Unfortunately, I don’t see it in the anti-war movement. And I certainly don’t see it in the governments that supposedly represent us–‘homo sapiens’.
I think it is time that we speak out for us.
Kurt Leege lives in New York. He can be reached at: email@example.com