My mother took me to my first Ban-the-Bomb march when I was eight. I remember it was autumn, that people wore long coats, and we kicked at falling leaves along our route. I walked holding up a peace sign until my arms got tired.
Four years later, when I was in seventh grade, my speech for public speaking class was, Strontium-90: Why We Should Ban the Bomb.
I believe that war is the greatest evil.
War is the opposite of wisdom and the opposite of humanism. I define humanism as honoring the common humanity in all people. If practiced globally, humanism and pacifism could heal the world in one generation.
People have said to me that I am unrealistic, that there will always be wars and in many cases, a need for wars.
I reply to them, “Give me a scenario, a problem, that can only be solved by war and nothing else.”
“Terrorists attack us!” comes the reply, or “Our country is invaded.”
And why did the terrorists attack us? Why were we invaded? Could it be that we disregarded their humanity, kept them in refugee camps for 40 years or installed a rapacious dictator over their country? Did we ever try to compromise or help the people who now use violence against us?
I used to joke that all wars should cease, and nations should settle their differences with one Big Band Contest. “And the winner is…..LATVIA!!!”
I have been on this planet for 60 years, and every single day there has been a war somewhere on earth. Not one day of total peace, worldwide, has passed in all that time.
Despite that, I believe that a true fellowship of reconciliation is possible. Somewhere out there are people like me who know for a fact that individuals and tribes and nations already have the tools to solve conflicts without violence.
We have rational thought; we have handshakes and embraces; we have music and food and the ability to sit down and talk to each other.
We can stay at the table for as long as we need – weeks or months. We can draw lines on maps and divert water to share it and agree to keep on talking and planning until we get it right.
Finally I believe that we should tell our children that being soldiers and killing other people is what the ancestors did, and we are better than that. I want to observe one day of universal peace – at least one day – before I die.