Cognition, Creativity, and Behavior: Selected Essays

By Robert Epstein | Go to book overview

34
A DAY OF PEACE ON EARTH

There are nearly 30 million soldiers in the world, and the United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 of them are children. What's more, many are fighting and dying every day, even when the headlines fail to remind us. A recent yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute documents 32 major armed conflicts during 1989 alone, with several brutal new wars too new to make the list. In all, more than 20 million people--most of them civilians--have died in armed conflicts around the world since 1945, with no sign of real change.

Total disarmament may be too much to ask for. Self-interest and fear may prevent it forever. Persuasive people will argue the need for aggression or defense or deterrence, and enough people will be persuaded to cause trouble. Remember, too, that war is one of the biggest, most successful businesses in the world, to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars in expenditures each year.

But how about a day, just a single day of peace? Could we not at least try that? No monarchs would fall, no one's borders would be threatened, no one would lose a sale or a job--not in just a day.

January 1st of the year 2000 marks the beginning of a new year, a new decade, a new century, and a new millennium.1 It is only the second such day in the calendar of human history, and it is within reach, so near we can almost touch it. Most of the people alive today--and the vast majority of all of the children alive today--will witness this extraordinary day.

Why not begin the next thousand years with a day of peace on earth?

For much of the world, the day will be a holiday, anyway. Even if we did no special planning, fighting would slack off. Why not make the moratorium complete?

It will take a great deal of work by many political, religious, and military leaders, many governments, many service organizations, and many private citizens around the world to engineer a global truce, but it's well within the realm of the sober realities under which we live.

How do we convince all of the relevant parties to lay down their arms, and how can we prevent some trigger-happy bully from ruining the day? Should we

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