To my dear friends at ILAPYC and to all the friends of Peace:
On Tuesday, March 29th I had the pleasure of speaking at an event organized by ILAPYC, per invitation of its president Patricia Pérez, at the main office of SEDUCA (Argentine Educators Union). I tried to explain, in the span of almost two hours, why, since childhood up to this day –I’m currently 81 years old– I have been, and continue to be, against militarism. Meaning, I have never accepted the existence of armed forces, where members are taught to kill with bullets, mines, grenades, bombs, missiles and torpedoes; in order to kill or be killed by people they’ve never met. And only because it was mandated by a group of politicians in places of government that allows them to make such decisions.
I believe that as long as there is militarism, along with its industrial complex, the chances of living in a world without war, injustice, unemployment, poverty, hunger, social violence and human rights abuse, are NULL.
The whole event was filmed and the essence of what was said has been condensed in a 25-minute video that will soon be made available by ILAPYC.
For now, I’ll respond to some important questions made by members of the audience that, due to time constraints, I was unable to answer properly during said event.
If peace is a higher value, to what extent can it be transgressed in the pursuit of defending freedom?
I see no peace in the emotional, spiritual and psychological torment that survivors of war, both soldiers and civilians, have to live with. There is no peace in having millions of traumatised people and thousands of buildings, hundreds of cities and entire economies destroyed by war.
If you have millions of orphaned children because their parents were forced to go to war, this denies any freedom.
There is no peace, much less freedom or democracy, in being forced to go through a war that the people didn’t want or vote for. Wars are planned secretly by politicians in power; that is the opposite of freedom.
If war is a foul business, and today it’s Russia and Ukraine, where do you think the next deal will happen? Because they always seem to play out amongst other countries, except for the ones that actually make those dealings possible.
The millions of employees within the military industry and the armed forces must be paid their salary every month, so the business needs to be kept running at all times. The most common way to do this is to foment the ‘possibility’ of war, of being attacked; to create the need of having to be prepared in case of an attack or invasion. This is how governments justify their obscene amount of military spending, that is so damaging to the national economy.
Armies need training, this also allows for the business to continue indefinitely. The media has focused heavily on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but currently there are around thirty ongoing armed conflicts worldwide, reaching almost 200 if we take into account all the conflicts that are ‘simmering’.
Why is all this information not reported on, for example, about Geneva (UN)? Is someone restricting access? Is the media part of a cover-up?
No mafia or criminal organisation will discuss their plans in public. That’s why we have embassies and government offices. Negotiations are done in private. Press conferences exist to give journalists the information that the politicians, diplomats and the military industry want the public to know. More often than not, that information bears no relation to what was discussed privately.
Therefore, journalists may be reporting false information in good faith or unaware of it. But there are also media corporations that are tied to the war industry; these will use their power to influence public opinion.
What should schools’ role be in teaching anti-militarism and how could we begin to address this?
I believe that education is of vital importance, if we take into account that, in our case, to educate means to ‘un-educate’; that is to say, to do away with the myth that weapons are only meant for defence and that they serve as a deterrent. If they were a deterrent, then there’d be no wars. The two world wars were possible precisely because all the countries involved were armed.
Costa Rica is a good example that proves that the absence of armed forces brings about an absence of war. Moreover, it makes war an ‘impossibility’. No country, no matter how well-armed they are, can attack Costa Rica. The Caribbean country had a history of civil wars and wars with its neighbours that ended in 1948 with the abolition of its Armed Forces.
There are twenty-five other countries without armed forces, that also serve as alternatives. But the military, political and commercial careers of those who have reached positions of power, and that have gotten richer thanks to all the destruction and human suffering they’ve caused, also set an example.
Education must come through truth. Children have to be able to tell the difference between someone who went down in history because they discovered how to treat or cure an illness, and others that have been immortalised by the State because they won wars, or to put it another way, because they killed more than others, generally well-paid to do so.
There are many possibilities for developing an Education for Peace.
One of the audience’s questions came with this request: “After listening to your speech, I’d like that you leave us with some hopeful words”
My heart and mind are full of hope; that’s why I say what I say, why I expose all of this. I’m convinced that together, with all societies united, we can say to politicians: ‘ENOUGH!’; enough of your lies, enough of these wars that we, the people, did not ask for; enough of teaching our children how to kill and sending them off to kill others –or to be killed– whenever it pleases you.
World Peace IS POSSIBLE!