“I think everybody should like everybody.” –Andy Warhol
During his “Bed-in for peace,” John Lennon gave several interviews; in one of them, a journalist asked what message he and Yoko Ono were trying to convey. “All we’re saying is give peace a chance,” he replied. Lennon liked the phrase so much that he made a song out of it. It rapidly became the theme song for anti-war demonstrations all over America.
Today it’s still sung by anti-war protesters. I’ve seen video clips of many different groups singing the same old “all that we’re saying…is give peace a chance” chorus line many times over the past few years. It’s sung by people carrying all manner of signs, most of which–sarcastically or otherwise–basically say that there’s never any reason for war. War is never the answer. And if you support the war, you’re a murderer.
I take serious offense to that song. Why?
It suggests that war is something I like. That I’m violent by nature. That I didn’t try first to solve an issue by talking before putting my dukes up. It suggests that I enjoyed writing to my brother in Iraq and Afghanistan and that I want him to go back. Those words are sung by people who have already decided that because I support both the troops AND their mission, I’d rather go to war and give up on peace.
What makes so many people believe that war is never the answer? It has actually been the answer to a great many things. The American Revolution created our country and threw off the chains of England. The Barbary Wars stopped Muslims from raiding American towns on the coast and taking whatever (and whomever) they pleased; it also stopped the Pashah of Tripoli from demanding hush money. The Civil War ended slavery and kept our nation together. World War I helped our European allies stave off takeover by the Germans; World War II stopped the Nazi takeover from getting any worse.
Sure, we’ve fought wars that were either unnecessary or poorly-planned. But that doesn’t mean that war is never the answer. Yes, people die. War is hell. Nothing in life is ever perfect. If we’re unwilling to fight for the right thing, though, the end result can and will be far worse.
“Give Peace a Chance” is written from the point of view that Andy Warhol said the words I quoted at the open of this post. Humans are inherently good, so there should be no reason to fight. Everybody should like everybody. We’re all people, right? Why can’t we all just get along?
Have you ever noticed that you don’t have to teach a child to do something bad? You have to raise a kid and teach them how to do what’s right, because they’ll naturally do what they’re not supposed to do. Human nature is, in fact, NOT inherently good. Look at the Nazis. Tribal warfare has brought starvation, disease, and mass murder to many African nations–Mogadishu and Darfur are perfect examples. Palestinians raise their sons to believe that martyrdom is the highest form of honor and train them to achieve it by blowing themselves up in crowded Israeli civilian areas to kill as many Jews as they can. And slavery was ended, but it gave way to segregation in America–and it lasted how long?
How can we look at the reality of human nature and sing songs about how human beings are really good and we all just need to hug and hold hands? What makes us believe that refusing to fight is going to do us any good?
I’m perfectly capable of giving peace a chance. Most people would say they are. But as long as we have issues with admitting when we’re wrong, talking about things that are uncomfortable, and accepting that we’re not perfect, peace will never be perfect.
So when someone figures out how to cure those ills, we can talk about how we can all just get along.