by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
December 3, 2001
PEACE IS NOT AN OPTION
If bombings like those that took 26 innocent lives on Saturday and Sunday had occurred every day for the past 120 days in Israel, that nation would have lost the number of people the United States lost on a single day in September.
If the 1,000 or so Palestinians killed since Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount nine months ago died on a single day, there would have to be three or four such days to equal the carnage in New York City on Sept. 11. If you spent the gross domestic product (GDP) of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, about $110 billion in 2000, you could spend that much for six days in a row before you would equal the expense of that one day of terrorism against the United States.
George Will said recently that the 26 Israeli lives were the equivalent of 1,134 American lives. But Israeli and Palestinian lives are not more precious than American lives. That is why the Israeli-Palestinian dilemna must be resolved before more of the same is visited not on Israel and Palestine but on us. Yet, by itself, wanting to achieve security is not enough to accomplish such a resolution; it will take more than our self-interest to save all of our nations from worse suffering than we have already experienced.
Fortunately, one of the little known realities of love and sacrifice is that they are big enough to include self-interest, and they are not mutually exclusive. You can have one with the other. That's an important point to remember as we struggle towards a victory over Death, one we must win both for our lives and our democracies.
So let me tell you now that the title of this editorial is exactly contrary to its motive, which is to argue that peace in fact is the only possible course that can wrest humankind from a cycle of violence and a global dimunition of human rights that will make this world a far darker place.
How that peace is achieved - by blood and violence or by love and sacrifice - will define the future of our democracies and all but that very small patch of Planet Earth that is not impacted by events in the United States, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Some ideas are hard to swallow. One is that the philosophy of "An eye for an eye" has been obsolete for 2,000 years. Another is that peaceful "people power" has toppled more regimes than wars have in the past decade. A third is the old cliche that "most people really want peace."
That is true in Jerusalem and in Gaza and in Kabul: Most people really do want peace. But few of them are willing to risk their lives for it, or even join together as the people of the Philippines and Romania and Indonesia and East Germany and Poland and other places did and simply overwhelm the violent and the misguided, the greedy and the hateful.
If there are Jews and Palestinians who want peace more than endless war, now is the time they must demonstrate that desire in the streets of their respective cities. If not enough blood has been shed, if still many more children must die, if more buildings and airplanes must explode, then those who want peace should stay at home until the lights go out, and then they should head for the trackless wastes of the deserts and the deepest wilderness; that is where people who want peace but won't risk themselves for it may at last be safe, for a while.
So why is peace not an option? Because "an eye for an eye" rules the Middle East. Because the powerful will not stop the fighting. Because from every war comes a thousand healthy corporations. Because people would rather be right than alive.
Because some people would rather hate than love. Because even many people agree that the people must be told what to do and what is right and wrong, and cannot be trusted to decide things for themselves. But all of these reasons are a sparkless grain of dust in the hand of God, and God loves Life. God makes people, and He moves them.
You see, in the end, the human life we so freely discard on every battlefield in every generation and every century of human civilization is actually the essence of the God in whose name we blow other human beings to smithereens. That's the one thing people don't know yet, and until the end of war will never know: Life is God.