To Kill, or Not to Kill


Michael Graham



        Many are quick to say that world peace is an unreachable and intangible task for this day and age.  Others defend the possibility of world peace with allegations that those who do not believe world peace is attainable, are only adding to the problem.  There are two separable questions connected to this argument.  First, is world peace possible given the collective violently oriented direction of the world?  Second, do we as individual human beings hold in us the potential to influence a positive end:  world peace. The answers to both of these questions provide one answer:  Human potential to be “peace natured” exists, but calls for a serious re-evaluation of our socialization process and a fundamental reconstruction of the way we implement the solution to a problem.

      Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Men hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.”  Too, often, we place an emphasis on our immediate surrounding community and its needs, rather than the needs of the human race as a whole.  A selfishly generated hierarchy of worth places ourselves at the top.  Mental boundaries are drawn by religion, race, ethnicity, or even geographic location because of underlying insecurities and an overwhelming need to belong.   We fail to understand the societies and cultures we aren’t    directly affected by.  Misunderstanding leads to hatred, and hatred leads to violence.  Robert M. Hutchins said, “We are here as citizens of the world and friends of mankind.  Each of us is proud of his own country.  But the man who said ’above all nations is humanity’ may have had a more practical grasp of the future than he whose slogan was, ’My country, right or wrong (Reed xvii).’

       Often our motives in themselves are harmless and natural, but the end results are contrary to worldly welfare. As naturally vulnerable creatures

one way in which we deal with our insecurities is to consume those we feel threatened by.   Threatening atmospheres are sometimes derived from confusion or misinterpretation.  The result is a feeling of hopeless paranoia.

      An example of this paranoia was shown in the aftermath of September 11th.

The initial feeling most Americans experienced was fear.  In watching television and reading the newspaper, we soon learned of the culture that delighted in the destruction and killing of many Americans.  The inadequate information released by the media, helped to stir up American hearts in anger.  Thus we see that fear led to anger.  In reply to millions of vulnerable Americans, the government fought back at its supposed target, the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces stationed in Afghanistan.  The gap of time between the terrorist attack on the United States, and American military action overseas, was far too short of a time period for a reasonable, well thought out plan to be implemented.  Consequently, angry emotions led us to whimsical actions.  We may feel safe for the time being, but it is inevitable that countries and cultures that feel victimized by our military action, will soon take military action of their own.  Unfortunately vengeance is a recurring theme in the history of the world.

      The cold war is an example of the endless cycle that nations are hindered by when fear is behind the motive.  After the tragic events of Hiroshima and

Nagasaki, governments became nervous and susceptible.  The development of weapons of mass destruction led to escalation of the violent repercussions of war. 

      In regards to human nature, J. William Fulbright says, “In his natural state he is not particularly menacing to his fellow-man, but technology has equipped him with artificial teeth and claws that have become ever more deadly with the advance of civilization (Reed 129).”

      American problem solving technique is an internal reflection of ourselves and our society.  In order to change the traditional socialization process,

we need to pay close attention to the family structure and the interactions within it. In the family setting, we can work to solve problems through careful, well thought out planning, and sensitivity.  Immediately diffusing feelings of anger can lead to clear communication and less misunderstanding.

  Peace mindedness starts in the family institution where children are most affected in their day-to-day interactions.

      By separating nations, societies, governments, cultures, subcultures, and ethnic groups and by creating a false sense of national camaraderie to further divide us, we enhance the demotion of international relations and secure notions of misunderstanding between peoples.  It is by looking at our past and learning from it, that we can evaluate our future direction.

      Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful philosophies are highly relevant to these latter days. In order to alter circumstances of oppression, inequality, and violence, Gandhi believed that people could unite in peaceful protest. He believed that by setting an example through your actions, the people around you would learn to treat you the way you want to be treated.  Gandhi said, “We may no longer believe in the doctrine of ’tit for tat’; we may not meet hatred with hatred, violence with violence, evil with evil. . . Return good for evil (Fischer 64).”

      To those who do not have faith in the peace movement, the question is raised: what other choice do we have but to orient ourselves peacefully?  It is only a matter of time before we permanently ruin international relations through violently bullying each other rather than understanding each other. 

      The ultimate experiment would involve disposing of past notions, traditional problem solving processes, and weapons of war, and applying an attitude of egalitarian treatment to all humankind.  It is urgent that we commit to practicing a new way of life in which we honor the lives of every human. 

War is not only physically and emotionally damaging to those directly involved, it mutilates our souls and corrodes our minds, desensitizing us to violence in our homes and neighborhoods.  The eternally negative affect of war has no boundaries.




Works Cited



Fischer, Deborah.  Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World.  Middlesex,

      England: First Mentor Printing, 1982.


Reed, Edward, ed.  Beyond Coexistence:  The Requirements of Peace.  New

      York:  Norton, 1996.


Vardell, Mark, ed. Counseling and Psychotherapy.  1998.