Conservative columnist, William Kristol, has an opinion piece in the New York Times today criticizing the new MoveOn.org ad about the Iraq war. You can view the ad here.
In the ad a young mother, holding her baby boy, says the following: “Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”
William Kristol makes some valid points about this ad. John McCain’s comment about staying in Iraq for 100 years (or even longer) has been taken out of context. The U.S. currently has a volunteer military, so John McCain can’t take this woman’s son. But then he quotes a woman who’s son has been serving in Iraq; she says about the ad: “Does that mean that she wants other people’s sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? … Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere.”
And Mr. Kristol responds to this statement with the following: “This is the sober truth. Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we’re not entering any such world.”
I’m not so naïve as to think we live in a world without enemies or war, but I found myself surprised by Mr. Kristol’s choice of words. “Unless we enter…” he writes before deciding in the next sentence that we’re not “entering” such a world.
Should this really be the question we ask, and the conclusion we draw? I agree with Mr. Kristol that we won’t enter any such world, but we can create a world in which we no longer kill one another in wars. We have the capacity to solve conflicts peaceably. The great majority of individuals do this, and many societies have learned to do so as well. Can’t we work to create a world in which we all solve conflicts without violence, individuals and nations alike?
William Kristol’s perspective is not simply pessimistic, it is essentially passive. That is, passive about the necessity to work for a better world, one in which we have healthy, sustainable, and peaceful systems and societies. Passive about our responsibility to create a safe and humane world so that our children need not “stand and deliver” in war, but rather stand and deliver on viable solutions to war and environmental degradation and poverty and cruelty and a host of other problems.
Mr. Kristol would likely be surprised that I’m calling him passive. After all, he advocates active engagement with our enemies in the form of a strong military and sons going to war. But he is silent on the most important challenge of our time – the challenge to raise a generation that has learned how to create peace. That is the challenge that humane education seeks to meet. It won’t be selfish narcissists who take up this challenge, but rather a generation that has been taught and motivated to be wise, committed, generous changemakers.
Filed under: humane education, positive choices, responsibility | Tagged: advertising, changemakers, humane education, Iraq, McCain, military, MoveOn.org, peace, responsibility, war | 2 Comments »