There is a seemingly endless list of leaders who chose war — Hannibal, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler — to name a very few. And then there is an extremely short list of leaders who chose a different way — Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela among them, leading followers down a very different path. How might our world look with more leaders who think in terms of non-violence, reconciliation, compromise?
I once picked up a book with the enticing title, "A Short History of the World." But all it was was a history of battles — this leader against that leader. This nation against that nation. Who won. Who lost. In all the years covered by that book, there was no change except in the technology of the weapons used. This was a man's book, a man's world. The only women in it were the unfortunate leftovers lumped into the spoils of war.
In just my lifetime, I was born as World War II was raging. In fact, today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I learned strange terms like "nuclear bombs" and "cold war." And then there was the Korean War, followed by the Vietnam War that came close to enlisting my husband. However, the Vietnam War did enlist one of the foster children I was supervising as a social worker. He was a very reluctant soldier. It took me years to look to see if his name was on the list of dead soldiers on the Vietnam Memorial in D. C. Soon, television made the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan way too close.
I wanted to believe peace was possible. I joined Interns for Peace when I was living in Israel. The goal was to give Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Jewish schoolchildren the chance to meet, to learn about each other's culture, and to communicate person to person. For 18 months, I lived in an Israeli-Arab village promoting co-existence. But an intifada interrupted and my car was bombed. The road to peace is a very bumpy road.
I am in the beginning stages of writing my third book. It will be philosophical science fiction. In it, an alien will take me to visit other planets, one of which will be the Planet of Peace. I am trying to envision such a planet, how and if it would be possible. I don't want to put limitations on who lives there, but I worry about having too much testosterone on the planet that would endanger the peace. Nature is very clear about the need for aggression in natural selection and protecting the species. The short list of truly remarkable men who have achieved great things with reconciliation instead of aggression gives me a tiny kernel of hope that the planet of peace is not just fantasy. But perhaps it will have to be a very small planet.