Monday, May 17 is a big day, a transitional day, in my family. Hunter Jamieson Metcalf, my granddaughter, will become the third member from my side of the family to graduate from The University of Arizona. She was born in 1998 in the midst of hurricane Bonnie’s destructive energy, and I predict that she is now ready to go into the world as a powerful force of goodness and healing.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling with her to see volcanos and whales in Hawaii. In Kenya we visited the Kibera slum, an orphanage and two national parks. She and I took a small-boat journey to Ecuador and the Galapagos, and we traveled with family to the England, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.
Why Do We Do War?
It was during that first trip, the one to Hawaii when she was seven, that she claimed a space in my heart. During a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor we watched a video of the attack that launched America’s entry into World War II. Later, on a boat to the memorial, Hunter tugged on my hand and asked a question that I’ve pondered ever since: “Granddaddy, why do we do war?”
That is a hard question to answer, and I don’t remember what I told her. But I know that some people might say that the purpose of war is to defeat an enemy that threatens us and/or our interests. Other reasons might include domestic politics, imperial expansion, religious differences, securing resources, vengeance, or quest for world domination. Whatever the reasons, war today rages across the globe, and has been a constant through my nearly eight decades of life.
Whatever my answer was, I’ve carried her question with me all these years. And, I think that the challenge now is to change the question from “Why do we do war?” to “How can we do peace?”
How Can We Do Peace?
The answer to doing peace is at once both simple and complex. Simple because peace is a universal concept in most of the world’s religions and should, therefore, become a universal unifying force. If people of faith throughout the world lived the principle of peace taught by their theology, there would be harmony on earth. Alas, they do not and millions around the world pay the price of violence with their lives.
Achieving peace depends on the internal politics of each country; and, on the world’s attention being focused on issues such as poverty, inequality of opportunity, environmental sustainability, lack of education, hunger, and healthcare. Much of today’s world is poverty-stricken and suffers from scarce and inadequate medical care, dirty water, hunger and disease. Poverty is good soil for an epidemic of violence to grow in.
Wealthy nations must come to understand that their peace is affected when sick and hungry children in a faraway land lose hope and become desperate. Everyone’s peace is affected when there are people in the world who do not have access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. World peace is also compromised as seas rise because of climate change and the livelihoods and homes of millions of people are washed away or destroyed. The entire world’s peace is affected by the decline of natural resources as nations begin a fierce competition for water, food and fuel.
The road to peace is a difficult one that travels through every human issue and every human hope in every country in the world. But for the sake of children worldwide it is a road that elders and their grandchildren should walk together, leading the way to a more peaceful world. I am ready to follow you, Hunter. You lead the way.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.