One hundred years ago we were grinding our way between two world wars. The first one, coupled with a global pandemic, created the greatest loss of human life in history to that point. The second one would shatter that record. Two parts of the second one – the concentration camps of Germany and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – were the jolts our species needed to conclude that our technology was running well ahead of our morality.
A few days ago we passed the 76th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that ended the second world war. From the time that our species emerged, about 300,000 years ago, until August 15, 1945 – from the time we killed each other with rocks and spears until we did it with split atoms and Zyklon B – we clung to the belief that brutality could be harnessed for positive ends, even as we came to worship as prophets and gods those who told us that the path of violence was the wrong one.
The sight of a mob of gun-toting idealogues should sicken any of us, regardless of the ideology behind them. The time when the problems of humanity needed to solved with brutality are behind us. Anyone who advocates for it now is choosing that path.
It would be a fool’s dream, in 2021, to think that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending our country’s longest war, might be the beginning of the end of war. But there are a lot worse things than being a fool.
We’re willing to be the world’s clowns, if that’s what it takes to promote peace.John Lennon