This year, 2013, September 21st is designated as International Day of Peace. Each year, the United Nations invites all people and nations around the world, to hear and respond to the call to create a peaceful world. This Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly. It was “designed to create a specific time each year, to concentrate the efforts of the UN and its Member States as well as the whole human race, to promote the ideals of peace and to give positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.”
This year there is a specific call to address and eliminate bullying and to practice civil discourse in homes, schools, churches, communities and government, or wherever it is practiced. The call to practice and live peace is for all human beings, regardless of age, color, creed, class or place of origin. All are invited to participate. Peace is badly needed all over the world at this time. We must believe that peace is indeed possible and the Spirit will show us the way to live in peace and harmony wherever we are.
The historian Henry Steele Commager expressed a similar view in an article in the New York Review of Books, October 1972. Comparing the U.S. war in Vietnam to the Confederacy’s war to preserve slavery and Germany’s war of aggression in World War II, he wrote, “Why do we find it so hard to accept this elementary lesson of history, that some wars are so deeply immoral that they must be lost, that the war in Vietnam is one of these wars, and that those who resist it are the truest patriots.” Cited in Neil Jumonville, Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), p. 177. Of course, the peace movement’s quest was to prevent the war and stop the war, irrespective of American victory or defeat.
Official U.S. denial of responsibility for the death and destruction wrought in Vietnam was reinforced by various cultural expressions. Accounts of the war in films such as The Deer Hunter (1978), First Blood (1982), Uncommon Valor (1983), Missing in Action (1984), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Hamburger Hill (1987), and Rambo III (1988) present American soldiers as righteous warriors who were prevented from winning by inept Washington politicians, the “liberal” media, and the peace movement. These films were part of a larger reactionary movement designed to restore America’s noble self-image, assuage guilt, and drown out the outrage felt by other Americans convinced that the administration had lied its way into an unnecessary war. Stories were spread that antiwar activists had spit on returning vets and that American POWs were being held in Vietnam, making America appear the victim rather than the aggressor in the war. The “lesson” for the hawkish crowd was that the U.S. should have, and could have, won the war.
By the spring of 1968, the patriotic ‘rally-round-the-flag effect was wearing thin and recognition of the war’s mounting costs was sinking in. On April 27, the Mobe sponsored another major demonstration, this one relatively peaceful. About 100,000 people congregated in New York to hear Coretta Scott King, Mayor John Lindsay, and other speakers. Another 20,000 gathered in San Francisco. A group of forty active-duty GIs were given the honored place at the head of the demonstration in San Francisco.
In the time since the ruin of the Temple, many sages recognized the absolute necessity of unity for the Jews and for the world. Regrettably, their voice was not heard because the Jews were too preoccupied with themselves. The book, Shem Mishmuel tells us, “The intention of creation was for all to be one bundle… but because of the sin [egoism] the matter was spoiled. The correction began in the generation of Babylon, meaning the correction of gathering and assembling of people which began with Abraham. …And the final correction will be when everyone becomes one bundle.”
The ruin of the Second Temple marks a key point in the history of the world. Not only was the Jewish people exiled from the land of Israel, the Jews also lost their war against self-centeredness. For the first time since its inception, the tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” was not the guiding rule within the nation. Jews still had high regard for unity, as they still do to this day, but they began to use it to gain self-centered purposes instead of as a means for correction of the ego and as an asset to be passed on to all mankind.
Notice the power of importance that Rabbi Kalman Epstein, author of Maor VaShemesh, ascribes to unity: “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. …When there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet … and all the curses and suffering are removed by that.”
Once the Hebrews united, they were given the Torah and became a nation. But that nation was like none other. Being founded upon the principle of love of others, they were entrusted with a task to pass on the method for uniting, for loving your neighbor as yourself. This is when they were told that they must be “a light unto nations,” namely to show the way to unity to the whole world, just as Abraham had tried back in Babylon and wherever he went.
The arrival of Moses introduced a new phase in the development of the Israeli nation. Self-centeredness and alienation increased in the world around them as it did in them. At the time of Moses, Israel had amassed such a level of disunity that they needed a new method if they were to unite above it. They were also far more Hebrews than the tribe that went into Egypt. By Moses’ time there were three million of them, far too many to be taught the way Abraham had taught his students.
and Global Media Perspectives on Afghanistan: Evaluating the Roles of the United States and the United Nations in Preserving World Peace I. Intro Afghanistan was a neutral country in the 20th century, receiving aid from the United States and Soviet Union until the 1970s.
To understand the wrong that Jews are doing, we need to look at how, and especially why the Jewish nation formed. The father of Judaism, and of all Abrahamic religions, is Abraham Our Father [Abraham the Patriarch], who symbolizes mercy. The Midrash (Beresheet Rabah) tells us that when Abraham saw his countryfolk arguing and quarrelling he tried to make peace and help them unite. In the words of the Midrash, he tried to “patch up” all the people in the world.
On May 7, 1954, the French command surrendered. Giap later reflected that the Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu validated a “great historic truth, that a colonized and weak people, once it has risen up and is united in the struggle and determined to fight for its independence and peace, has the full power to defeat the strong aggressive army of an imperialist country.” The lesson was not lost on other colonized peoples around the world. Nor would the Vietnamese forget this lesson in the next unexpected phase of the struggle.