01/15/02 (The Missing Peace)
“I had no idea that there was another, more “peaceful” Tea Party in Philadelphia at the same time as the one in Boston, and I live only an hour north of Philadelphia. Another thing I found interesting was that many Puritan preachers preached Revelation during the war, describing the British tyrants as the “antichrist” and used this to justify the war.
The first chapter of reading for today focused on some misconceptions and alternatives to the American Revolutionary War. While most people view the American Revolution as a “just war”, many historians, especially those of religious background, believe that there were many possible non-violent alternatives. I found this to be interesting reading, and learned a lot of new things from it. For example, I had no idea that there was another, more “peaceful” Tea Party in Philadelphia at the same time as the one in Boston, and I live only an hour north of Philadelphia. Another thing I found interesting was that many Puritan preachers preached Revelation during the war, describing the British tyrants as the “antichrist” and used this to justify the war. The author says that the British government was not in fact a tyranny; it only seemed to the colonists that that was where the British government was heading. This seems to make the British look innocent and that the war was a result of the colonist’s paranoia perhaps.
However, looking ahead in the article, we see how the British betrayed the Native Americans and pretty much did the same for the African Americans. The Native Americans were initially given all the land between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains by Britain, but in the Treaty of Paris after the war was over, the British signed over all of the land to the colonies, without making mention of the Natives who had settled there. As for the African American Slave population, they were promised freedom if they could make it to the royal lines to fight alongside British Royal forces. However, when the slave owners found out about this, of course most slaves were killed or in some way prevented from fighting for the Royal Army.
The second chapter focused more on peacemaking by different individuals and groups after the era of the revolutionary war. Specific groups and people mentioned include the Quaker and other German-speaking Anabaptist groups settling in Pennsylvania, the Republican parties, and Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The Quakers had political control of Pennsylvania for many years and used acceptance of various religious sects as a means of keeping the peace. They also used public officers known as peacemakers to help settle and solve non-criminal disputes.
Classical Republicanism was based on the political theories of most of Europe. This theory was based on the thinking that the colonies did not need a ”standing army”, since the colonists acted on virtue. The reason being that most colonists owned land, and therefore had a stake in society and would be willing to make sacrifices for the common good. Thomas Jefferson is a classic example of one of these. Basically, the chapter looks at the peacemaking efforts and groups/individuals that came shortly after the Revolution.
Some Links that could be helpful…
The Treaty of Paris: http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/paris.html
George Clymer, chairman of the committee of the Philadelphia Tea Party, and signer of the Declaration of Independence: http://maxlets.com/clymer1776/A_Brief_CLYMER_History
book also mentions how Canada has a stronger claim to being a "Christian
nation" than does the United States. This
is a crazy thought to me. I guess I
just never considered anyone else but the U.S. a "Christian nation."
“Is it America's way to end conflict by war, or does this simply cause more conflict? Would things have been different if we had never fought that first war for independence? Was America founded as a Christian nation? These are a few questions that I am curious about.”
have recently finished reading chapters 2 and 3 in our book and the
3 talks about themes of war and peace. It
states how we celebrate and remember our war heroes, but we cannot recall our
peace heroes. I had never really
thought about this, but it does hold some truth.
We are mainly taught in history about wars won and heroes of the wars.
We never know about the peacemakers or the people against violent wars.
“It all comes down to whether we will seek alternative forms of nonviolence in order to prevent massive losses of human life or seek to right the wrongs done unto us with the betterment of the nation in mind. This is a hard decision for me. If only we needn't choose between the two - that America could have achieved the rights, freedoms, and privileges that we enjoy today without the death and destruction that enabled them to exist. In this sense, the passage, "For a war to be justifiable, not only must the goals be worthy, but the killing and destruction must not be so extensive that they outweigh the higher objectives" (p. 45) seemed plausible to me because I live to see the benefits that I have been so blessed to receive in this country, but haven't experienced the losses resulting from the struggle to achieve them.”
reading made me realize how ignorant I am in the political, religious, and
social facets of the wars in which America has engaged since its formation.
I learned blind acceptance of the "facts" of such events in textbooks
and from educators - never really wondering if war could have been avoided in
any of these cases. Without having lived through those trying times and
not being completely informed about all of the logistics that led to war, I
still don't feel able to determine that our country could have avoided
every violent conflict in its history. While more gestures of peace and
nonviolent actions toward our enemies might have postponed war for a time,
would they actually have avoided war, or just delayed the inevitable?
While I wish that all conflicts could be settled peaceably, I take pride in
being an American and have immense gratitude for the millions of people who have
given up their lives because they believed in the potential for America to
become a great nation. Pride in order to establish a unified front and
sense of solidarity within a society may benefit all involved, but hurt pride
that seeks revenge and undeserved power is senseless and detrimental. This
pride seems to lie at the heart of virtually every war. It all comes down
to whether we will seek alternative forms of nonviolence in order to prevent
massive losses of human life or seek to right the wrongs done unto us with the
betterment of the nation in mind. This is a hard decision for me. If
only we needn't choose between the two - that America could have achieved the
rights, freedoms, and privileges that we enjoy today without the death and
destruction that enabled them to exist. In this sense, the passage,
"For a war to be justifiable, not only must the goals be worthy, but the
killing and destruction must not be so extensive that they outweigh the higher
objectives" (p. 45) seemed plausible to me because I live to see the
benefits that I have been so blessed to receive in this country, but haven't experienced
the losses resulting from the struggle to achieve them. Perhaps if I
had been directly affected by the loss of someone close to me for the cause, it
wouldn't matter if the war was just or not.
This website doesn't have much to do with my response, but does address an issue that Juhnke and Hunter wrote about. It discusses the Quaker peace testimony and how it affected the views of non-Quakers. It discusses the pacifistic beliefs of Quaker's and nonviolent objection and specifically addresses the Pennsylvania Quakers.
“Because I had only heard the American version of things up until this point, I wanted to try and find a British view of the events. I did a search at YahooUK, and came up with this website: http://earlyamerica.com/review/fall96/loyalists.html This web site deals with a pamphlet called “Plain Truth,” written by James Chalmers. This pamphlet was a loyalist response to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”
The thing that struck me in the chapter about the Revolutionary War was how the British were not the “tyrants” that the history books portrayed them as. History books portray the English as tyrants who have nothing better to do with their time than make the colonists miserable through such means as the “Stamp Act”. I never realized that the colonists had as many privileges as they did. No history book that I can remember ever mentioned that the Americans had representation in Parliament. And no book had ever suggested that colonists were just paranoid and had no reason to feel threatened by British tyranny. I found this interest because it suggests that it was propaganda such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and the writings of the “Commonwealth Men” that caused the desire for war rather than anything the British had actually done.
Because I had only heard the American version of things up until this point, I wanted to try and find a British view of the events. I did a search at YahooUK, and came up with this website: http://earlyamerica.com/review/fall96/loyalists.html This web site deals with a pamphlet called “Plain Truth”, written by James Chalmers. This pamphlet was a loyalist response to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”. Chalmers directly attacked Paine by calling him a “political quack”. The pamphlet went on to counter “Common Sense” through various arguments. He said that it was unlikely the American Army could defeat the British without the help of a European power such as France. He argued that things in the colonies were not so bad. Colonists didn’t have to pay nearly the same amount of taxes as someone living in England. There was still plenty of land for them to settle on and prosper (he didn’t mention that this was at the expense of the Native Americans, of course).
-The problem of patriarchy. To what extent is violence a male behavior? What if women “withdrew their consent” from our society? “Perhaps I am off base, but what I thought this to mean is that men’s domination over women is a big issue when we look for peaceful alternatives in our country.”
My response to chapter two is mixed. Hindsight is a funny thing, what if we had not fought in the Revolutionary War, were we guaranteed a peaceful negotiation and outcome? Fact is, we do not know and although history can and does teach us valuable lessons, the only history we have to go on is one strewn with violence. The war with Bin Laden at this time is a good example, do I personally feel that we should be killing innocent people to ultimately kill him? No, I don’t. But on the other hand, if we sat and did nothing, would he just leave us alone? Once again, no one knows, and I suppose most do not want to take the chance. So back to the Revolutionary war, would we be under British control at this point in history if we had not fought in the war? I personally can relate to those who were taxed at that time, Bluffton’s property taxes rising on a yearly basis drives me mad, and they most likely felt that they should not be taxed unmercifully in the Americas. My feelings about this chapter were ones of ambivalence, as I have said, we do not know, or never will, what could have happened if we had taken a peaceful approach. For all we know we may not have evolved into the independent powerful country that we are today. And yes, we are a violent culture and it would take a huge paradigm shift to change that, one I do not foresee. While a small percentage of Americans look for peaceful alternatives, majority do not. I have ideas on why we are so violent, from the beginning our country has been ruled by men and still is, most violent crimes are committed by men and nearly all sex offenses involve a male offender. Perhaps if women were given EQUAL opportunity to have a say in our country we would have better negotiating skills, I do not know. I cannot see an army of women killing innocent children and women or taking land from the Native Americans, perhaps too much testosterone rules our world, then and now?
What it really all means to me is that our country knows nothing but a violent approach, especially when power over land and people are involved. Our government wants and longs to control us and those of other countries and this has evolved over the history of our nation to disastrous consequences and an unempathetic and selfish culture. Fighting is the only answer in our country and has spread to other countries in the process. It is sad, because in our fight for freedom we have lost not only our freedom, but also our ability to compromise, negotiate, and empathize. We are an egocentristic nation with no ability to recognize that being different is good, that the United States is only one part of the entire world, and we set the pace and example for other countries.
In closing, the Revolutionary war was fought, in my opinion, for the freedom of the men and women of America. But, perhaps a less violent approach could have been sought. I really don’t know what that could have been, you see, for I have been raised with the idea that war is the only answer. If I personally don’t feel that way, well, I just keep my opinion to myself. It gets old talking to others about different approaches and different perspectives; most people don’t want to hear it!
In regards to the web site I found, www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/89jpr.html, which refers to Gene Sharps Theory of Power. To be honest a lot of this information is over my head. What is apparent to me in our capitalist society is that we would have to overthrow the majority opinion and basically have to become anarchists to achieve our goal. I especially liked the part that talked about the limitations in Sharp’s approach regarding patriarchy. “Nonviolent action and the giving or withdrawing of consent by women undoubtedly are important in the maintenance of male domination. But without any analysis of patriarchy as a structured set of social relations which can hardly be turned off by the simple withdrawal of consent, Sharp does not provide the basis for studying this power dynamic.” Perhaps I am off base, but what I thought this to mean is that mens domination over women is a big issue when we look for peaceful alternatives in our country, at least by this author. Which is what I was saying earlier in this paper. Women perhaps would prefer a non-violent approach but are unable or unwilling to implement that because we are not the “powerful” of the nation. And for all women to “withdrawal consent” would be nearly impossible, with out the men in our lives to help us rear our children, feed them, etc. only to turn to our state for assistance which is also male dominated for help, yeah, Ok? The majority rules, and like this article suggests, “Capitalism as a social system simultaneously oppresses and benefits those who live in it.” So to achieve a non-violent approach in our society we need the majority, those in power to implement it. Perhaps teaching Sharp’s theory in our school system would help. But you have to wonder if that would ever happen, with grown men killing each other at their children’s hockey games, the same grown men who run our schools, our state, our government, our world? Don’t get me wrong, I am not a man hater, but I see a direct correlation between violence and a male dominated society. Just an hypotheses, nothing more.
Back to top
Journal Postings home page Group B Journals Page LAS 301-01 home page
Questions? Comments? Email me