“The pen is mightier than the sword.” These words, attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, novelist and playwright, in 1839, in his historical play “Cardinal Richelieu,” indicate that the written word is a more effective tool for communication than violence. Many of us grew up on these words, but alas this assertion has not been adopted by rulers or governments subsequently.
After two decades of the “sword” in Afghanistan, there’ve been 241,000 lives lost, including 2,300 U.S. military personnel and 4,000 U.S. civilian contractors, an estimated $2 trillion wasted, including exorbitant profits for weapons makers, millions of internally displaced persons and refugees fleeing war-torn areas, and massive environmental degradation caused by military travel and use of weapons and munitions. Did you know that the U.S. military is the largest single “industry” causing greenhouse gas emissions? Not only have far too many resources already been misused, but the cost of the wars continues into the future to address the medical and health care needs of our veterans with disabilities and to pay for the repairs of the destruction caused by war.
Are we ready, as a society, to indeed use our pens ... to create peaceful economies and end endless wars? Are we willing to sharpen our skillful words and use diplomacy when conflicts arise and call out for resolution? Are we willing to uplift our spending priorities and take care of each other instead of killing?
Sept. 21 is International Peace Day, created by
the United Nations in
1981 as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace by observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. Pacifica Peace People invites all Pacificans to join us in honoring this day, too. We raise the question: What are you doing for peace today?
Imagine how the $300 million a day, spent on the Afghan war, as mentioned by President Biden, might otherwise have gone to relieve the suffering of people including those here in Pacifica. Go ahead, think of how we as a community might benefit in the future with safe, clean housing for all, teachers’ salaries commensurate with the cost of living in Pacifica, affordable childcare and preschool for our precious children, access to health care for everyone in the community and even potholes getting filled on our city streets. All this and more can happen if we redirect the federal budget to a peace economy!
Swords to ploughshares (or plowshares) is a concept in which military weapons or technologies are converted for peaceful civilian applications. We now have a perfect opportunity to dismantle the war economy and convert it to a peace economy.
We invite you to become a peaceful activist — each in your own way. A new world is possible. Let’s all be part of its creation.
Delia McGrath lives in Pacifica. She is writing on behalf of Pacifica Peace People.