Grassroot Voices: A Piece on Peace

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Richard Rowland, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, recently sent me this meditation that he wrote on war, peace, and government that will make you ponder what’s really in a name.  Enjoy . . .

Will Rogers once said: “Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth”


Along that line of thinking, please note that before both WW I and WW II, the USA was very reluctant to go to war, although in both cases it finally did. In those times the military served under the supervision of the Department of War.

The WW II victory was achieved decisively but with great sacrifice, not the least of which was creation and nurturing of an all powerful US government which demeaned the individual. Along with that came a sense of immense national power. The USA was king of the whole world “hill”. And we started acting that way. There was a problem, however, with the name of the War Department. Governments rarely name things accurately, so the Department of War seemed OK when actual war was to be avoided. But now that our leaders wanted to display US power, kind of like a school yard bully, it seemed to them inappropriate to have an accurate name so they changed it to the Defense Department. That, in their way of thinking, made it OK to go to war.

And we did. Over and over again

Then came 9/11. That resulted in a couple of wars and a new agency, the Department of Homeland Security. That group was to do what was earlier defense and it did not secure anything except heavy, unwarranted power over people. It is now very busy doing just that.

Looking at all this as a retired Colonel, US Army, having been a participant and/or observer in much of it, it now occurs to me that we might have a good opening here to pursue world peace in our time.

All we need to do is once again change the name of the Defense Department! If we officially named it what it is, we would call it the “Department of Offense”. That would make it very difficult for government leaders who suffer extraordinary pressure working under correct nomenclature. Further, it would give victims of bullying permission to be offended by Offense Department actions. For example, the son of an Afghanistan couple who were killed in a USdrone attack on their home which had been taken over by the Taliban, could be legitimately offended by the Offense Department calling those deaths “collateral damage”.

Ideas have consequences. So do accurate terminologies, because they let ideas creep in. That’s why government leaders like to keep government language fuzzy. Collateral damage just sounds better than accidental murder, doesn’t it?

Accordingly, I like the change of name to Offense Department as a possible glimmer of hope in a sea of darkness. Who knows, it might grease an outbreak of peace.

But, please, please, if you believe life and liberty are precious, do not, under any circumstances, let them name it the “Department of Peace”. Much collateral damage to all of us as well as the entire world would ensue.