I have a little booklet that I put together that includes the birthdays of my family and friends as well as a few public figures who have touched my life. October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 71st birthday, also dubbed Peace Day. Christopher Columbus’s birthday (he’s not in my book) is of course celebrated on October 10th (there isn’t a definitive date for his birth, but it’s believed to be somewhere between August 25 and October 31). With the proximity of these two dates, I learned that there is a movement to change Columbus Day to John Lennon/Peace Day. Power to the peaceful! is the slogan for the movement. In their words, “Let’s honor someone who devoted their life to peace, not war!” While Columbus was instrumental in jumpstarting the age of exploration that brought about numerous advancements in Europe, we can’t deny his role in the exploitation and enslavement of the native population while he was busy “discovering” America-a place we all know had already been discovered. Kind of like in the words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again.”
John Lennon implored us to, “Give peace a chance.” But following the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we marked the 10th anniversary of the violent conflict in Afghanistan – America’s longest war. With no end in sight, the number of lives lost continues to rise. In light of this milestone, consider these words…“We must find an alternative to war and bloodshed.” The war we are fighting “has strengthened the military-industrial complex … and put us in the position of protecting a corrupt regime that is stacked against the poor.” This war “has played havoc with our domestic destinies…” These words were spoken by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. concerning the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago! but could just as easily have been spoken today – déjà vu all over again.
When and if war is ever justified is obviously a complicated subject. In the midst of writing this blog piece, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, was miraculously released by Hamas after his five-year nightmare in captivity. Referring to the prisoner swap, he stated, “I hope this deal will promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Based on human history and human nature, I wonder if as John Lennon had hoped for, peace will ever stand a chance.