Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Is It Monday Yet?

Joe Volk
Joe Volk
Executive Secretary, FCNL
Guest blogger


8 AM Election Day: "What's the question?!" the guy yelled at me as I pedaled my recumbent bike past him on the Pentagon City sidewalk. Due to traffic, I couldn't stop, turn around, and reply. That was ok, though, because his question was probably rhetorical.

He'd seen my "War Is Not the Answer" flag. If war is not the answer, then, he wanted to know what the question is. I live in the Pentagon neighborhood, and most of my neighbors work on the business of war, both civilians and military. I get that question a lot. The questioner usually thinks that "what's the question?!" is a clever retort to my "War Is Not the Answer" statement, a stumper.

If I could have stopped to chat with him, as I have with others, I'd say, "On the humorous side, 'what's for breakfast?' War is not the answer. 'What would you like in your coffee?' War is not the answer. On the serious side, 'What should we do about Saddam Hussein in Iraq?' War is not the answer. 'What should we do about North Korea's nuclear weapons program?' War is not the answer. 'When you kid comes home and says Johnny bullied him on the playground and he asks, 'what should I do, daddy?' War is not the answer. The only question for which "war" is the right answer is: what does 'w,' 'a,' 'r' spell?"

An interesting thing about people in my neighborhood is that so many, military and civilians, see my "War Is Not the Answer" flag and say, "You got that right."

Congress doesn't yet have it right. Both Democrats and Republicans still have a faith-based commitment to war as the answer to difficult problems. They want to increase military spending, build up U.S. military force levels, escalate the war in Afghanistan, threaten Iran with "the military option," and "win the global war on terror."

I'm excited to go to work every day, because I get to talk directly with members of Congress and congressional staff about the practical alternatives to the failed war system, peaceful prevention of deadly conflict.

We work in a historic moment. W.E.B. Dubois remarked that, in the 20th Century, civilization had two big tasks: 1. eliminate racism, and 2. eliminate war. We passed into the 21st Century not having checked off those two important tasks on our "to do" list. We shouldn't pass that job on to our grandchildren; we should get it done now.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, whether you are grieving or celebrating today, you can see that our country just took a big step away from racism. An African-American has been elected president. That work to end racism is not yet done, but we've come a long way toward addressing racism. The norm has been set: that racism is not the answer is widely accepted.

We have further to go for peace, because the norm has not yet been set: that war is not the answer … to any question. Progress is possible. FCNL will work on national legislation for the dignity of every human being and to replace war with a real security system based on peaceful means. I can't wait to go to work. Is it Monday yet?

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