Editor’s note: This commentary is by Richard Czaplinski, of Warren, a U.S. Navy veteran who is the recently elected president of Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace, Chapter 57.
“I’m for peace, but not your kind of peace.”
So said a man as he came up close to me while I led the Vermont Veterans For Peace “Budget Banner” down State Street during the July 3 Montpelier parade. My mind went somewhat blank, not even thinking of responding. As we continued down the street, my mind began working again, thinking, questioning; “Hmm! Different kinds of peace? What kind of peace is he for? What kind of peace does he think VFP is for? What kind of peace is VFP for?”
Is peace simply the absence of war? Is it a kind of peace when a truce is called yet an “official” end of the war has not been negotiated, like the Korean Conflict.
Is it a kind of peace where the world bristles with nuclear weapons ready to be launched at a moment’s notice? Where nations are afraid to start this “all out” war because of the dire consequences, ending of the world as we know it, in few hours?
Is it a kind of peace that somehow prevails after many are killed, wounded and displaced? Where communities are destroyed, the environment damaged, millions of refugees are created and everyone is exhausted and fearful?
It seems that ever since humans beings have been on the planet, they have battled each other over hunting and grazing grounds, over territories and boundaries. And now, with so many of us (over 7 billion and steadily growing) maybe peace is not possible, at least under the past and present human behaviors and cultural rules that run our societies.
As a veteran (1964-1969) during the Vietnam War era assisting in waging that ill-begotten war, and now, on the front line of fostering peace with Veterans For Peace, I am convinced that fostering peace is much, much harder than waging war. This being the case, more resources are required for fostering peace than for defense and waging war. This is why the Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace (Chapter 57) is marching in parades this year with a message about how unbalanced the 2019 U.S. budget is in this regard. Here are the numbers (taken from https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/budget-fy2019.pdf) that are displayed in vivid color in a 50-foot long banner:
Defense (and War): $686 billion, up 13% from 2017 (43.5 feet of 50)
Veterans Affairs (the Human Costs of Defense and War): $76 billion, up 12% from 2017 (4.8 feet of 50)
Department of State (Diplomacy/Peace): $26 billion, down 26% from 2017 (1.7 feet of 50)
Restoration of Communities And Environment: $00 billion (0 feet of 50)
With our steadily increasing human numbers and the huge problems arising due to those numbers, I’m convinced that we don’t have a chance of avoiding war much less finding a way to lasting peace and abolishing war unless these portions of the 2019 U.S. budget are radically revised to support diplomacy and to foster peace.
This is why we march this year with this message. We need to hear each other, try to understand each other and work with each other to foster peace and avoid war. We need to learn how to foster peace.
Please join us and support us in delivering this message and in fostering peace.