Local views: War cannot resolve hostilities between nations

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: In recognition of January's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Rock Valley Fellowship of Reconciliation sponsored an essay contest open to graduating seniors in the Janesville School District. Students were asked to write between 500 and 1,000 words with the theme, "Why I believe war is not the answer."

Nicole Jo May, one of two valedictorians at Parker High School, was judged the winner and received a check for $600 from the fellowship, which notes that May plans to study nursing at Carroll University.

As children, and adults, people are told that bottling up their feelings will do no good. They are reminded that, "violence is not the answer." All our lives we are told not to fight, but to discuss. The concept of talking through our problems is drilled into our brains, and with good reason. Just as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "War is not the answer for carving out peaceful tomorrows," I believe that war is not the answer for the world's problems.

Although war releases pent-up animosity, it does not solve the underlying issues between nations.

War, "a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), a state of chaos, armed fighting between enraged nations or states; nearly everyone, even the smallest child, has some concept of what the word "war" means, but the real issue lies with the reasons for war. Normally, the conflict begins with an offensive attack, such as an assassination or a bombing; however, one must wonder what caused these problems in the first place. The answer is: a smaller conflict.

The path to war is paved with the pent-up feelings of nations, groups and individuals. War is like a bag that finally rips from the weight of a country's baggage. Just as a child's frustrations-for example, not getting more juice, getting called a name, or not understanding a homework assignment-can build up, a nation's issues with another country can do the same. A simple slight at an international event could lead to antagonism between the two countries' leaders. When word of the slight is leaked to the press, the fire is fueled; a prejudice may be established. Soon, a hate is developed between two nations, animosity is present not only in the media but in the minds of a country's people.

It may take years, or even months, but eventually this conflict may grow larger. That single slight may expand; perhaps one country will raise the tariff on imports from the other country or openly disagree with its leader's decisions. These seem like minor scuffles, but they add weight to both countries' existing issues. Before long, these lesser trifles may add up to a weight so immense that they rip the bag of one country, initiating an attack.

In the wake of a vast war, the holes in each country's bag leave a trail of dead and wounded people, if not in body, then in spirit. And to what end? No issue is resolved. The petty remarks and accusations have morphed into the blood of a nation lying wasted in the dirt. At the end of a war, all nations involved are tired of the taxing charade and mourn their lost soldiers. They realize they have not fixed anything, merely exhausted their countries for the sake of violence.

Now, rewind the alleged conflict. Suppose the nations' leaders communicated, one leader saying to the other: "I'm sorry. I meant no slight." Surmise nations calmly discussing their concerns and negotiating until they reach a reasonable compromise. A problem solved with no blood shed on the floor. I admit, there are times when war seems inevitable, but these could be prevented through cautious debate and deliberation.

In short, although war appears unavoidable at times, due to the need to relinquish the pressures of international hate, it is not the answer to the world's conflicts. War cannot resolve the underlying hostility between nations because it involves no discussion, only violence.

War is not the solution to animosity; it is an excuse for bloodshed and aggression. True reconciliation of nations can only be achieved through the discussion of the issues between them.

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