Greenfield Recorder, February 23, 2023
By SUZANNE R. CARLSON
I am grateful to the Recorder for featuring “A Peace of their Hearts” (Jan. 31) with photos by Paul Franz and and an informative report by Mary Byrne about the many (now 26) downtown businesses with storefront signs for “Peace” that Pat Hynes imagined and brought to reality.
Byrne shared the desire for peace of many shop owners, which caused me to reflect that most of the people of our community desire peace. Before this “outbreak of peace” in the shop windows, I’d been very worried that people didn’t worry about war and the U.S. history of warmaking.
Having the Recorder (also on Jan. 31) publish Pat Hynes’ column “Greenfield Shops for Peace” is another encouraging message, not only about the “peace” signs but contrasting the military’s dehumanization of soldiers to boost the low on-target firing rates of World War II (15-20%) to 55% in Korea and 95% in Vietnam … and how that increased PTSD and suicide rates in soldiers because of the moral injury of killing fellow human beings. Hynes offers a way to counter the power of military culture: Give peace education a chance. This is inspiration for the community to promote the teaching of education skills for life in our schools. We would all benefit from “peace education.”
I have searched for the voices for peace and negotiation and found several (mostly excluded from mainsteam news media). I have listened to Jeffrey Sachs (director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University), mostly interviews available on his website, in which he promotes negotiation and collaboration among nations.
Sachs shares the history of U.S. wars (not “winning,” but causing millions of deaths of civilians and devastation, while insisting on being the leading empire). Sachs also exposes the 40-year-long eastward movement of NATO with U.S. weapons, including nuclear, along Russia’s borders, and how this puts the whole world in danger. “How stupid is this?!” Sachs says.
I’ve also learned that on Jan. 5, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “So if we want a negotiated peace solution where Ukraine survives as an independent democratic country in Europe, the fastest way to get there is to support Ukraine. Weapons are — in fact — the way to peace.”
Likewise, our U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland says: “No! Not negotiate!”
The people need to hear more of the voices for negotiation and peace. But there is tremendous provocation and propaganda for war (says Sachs). When we see and read about the 40,000-plus people in Turkey and Syria killed by an earthquake, with millions left homeless, hungry and thirsty in the freezing cold winter, let us mobilize as peacemakers, not just to help those innocent victims but to organize and demand negotiations toward living together in peace.
Let us take heart and change our ways, remembering, as in Ed Gregory’s Jan. 31 letter to the editor, Mahatma Gandhi’s answer to a journalist’s question: What do you think of western civilization? Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.” It was Gandhi that led me to nonviolence training and joining an “affinity group” and taking action for peace.
The government’s escalation of the climate crisis at the same time as escalation of war seems to be a race to annihilation. Peace is the only way to survival. Let us reflect on how we can be peacemakers and “civilize” together, with our neighbors, with other nations. Peace is cheaper and a lot more fun.
Suzanne R. Carlson is a member of Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, MA Peace Action, Citizens Awareness Network (nukebusters.com), Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Visioning BEAR Circle Intertribal Coalition. She lives in Greenfield.