A destructive and painful path

Within every country, you will find good people who just want to live in peace. The majority of the Earth's population longs for peace - yet wars are our species' default behavior.

WESTMINSTER WEST — Like so many, I was horrified when I heard about the Hamas attack on Israel.

My first thought: How could Hamas possibly justify such brutality toward Israeli citizens and care so little about the people of Gaza, given Israel's well-known history of over-the-top retaliation against any Palestinian uprisings, be they peaceful or violent? If the images and descriptions of heinous cruelty doesn't keep one up at night, what would?

My second thought: What the hell did anyone expect?

The whole Israeli–Palestinian nightmare was a setup from the start. The displace, discard, and dismiss policy debacle portended endless war. Decade after decade, generation after generation of Palestinians have suffered the humiliation of Israel's boot-on-the-neck treatment, resulting in constant deprivation, denigration, and lives riddled with innumerable losses: loved ones, land, homes, livelihoods, dignity, freedom.

Who among us knows for certain how they would react when chained to such a life in what many call an open-air prison?

And how revolting to witness the world's obsequiousness toward Israel, no matter how aggressive, how extreme their responses to any threats, perceived or real.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict encapsulates human history in all its depravity, and I wonder how differently this chapter would have played out without the billions of U.S. assistance, year after year.

Your tax dollars at work, folks.

* * *

To those who are calling me an antisemite for my opinions, I going to turn off my censor button and admit that I think your form of censorship is intellectually and morally weak.

Israel has been masterful in their ability to convince parts of the world, including many politicians, media, and older U.S. citizens, that all Palestinians support Hamas.

Not true.

According to a recent Washington Institute poll, 57% of Gazans and 52% of Palestinians in the West Bank support Hamas. Pew Research conducted a poll in March and April of this year, showing 35% of Israelis think a peaceful two-state solution can be achieved, constituting a 15-point drop since 2013.

I can only imagine how low that number is today.

Think of how unfair it would be for all Americans to be lumped together as violent, imperialistic racists given our history, our crazy gun culture, and our aggressive foreign "interventions." Abu Ghraib, anyone?

According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 56% of Americans were not willing to support the use of torture on suspected terrorists who had possible information on future attacks to America.

* * *

My point is that within every country, you will find good people who just want to live in peace.

Indeed, my sense is that the majority of the Earth's population longs for peace - yet wars are our species' default behavior for reasons that I will never understand.

Is it "survival of the fittest" run amok? Overpopulation? Not enough resources?

I don't know.

I know only that - as I've written previously - I'll go to my grave not understanding my own species, and it saddens me that instead of making a commitment to never sink as low as one's aggressors and seek peaceful reconciliations, many countries just ratchet up the violence again and again.

Israel is one of the poster children of this destructive and painful path.

* * *

Another factor to consider: For those of us who live in countries where voting is still an option and corruption can still be overturned, at least to some degree, we have to take responsibility for electing awful people, often again and again.

Just two of many examples: Israel keeps electing Bibi Netanyahu, and Americans might very well re-elect Donald Trump. Why? Both are extremely immoral and aggressive men.

Conversely, time and time again, it's the peacemakers who are assassinated: Rabin in Israel; Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and others in America.

What does that say about us?

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In our country, Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, penned an essay in 1793 calling for what amounted to a Department of Peace.

Throughout our history, several proposals have emerged to revive that idea, including ones by Dennis Kucinich, when he served in the House of Representatives and as a candidate running for president in 2008.

Kucinich was roundly mocked for his views. How incredibly discouraging that such a department has never seen the light of day, much less has ever been seriously considered.

Will the doves among us ever prevail?

* * *

In 1962, Bob Dylan wrote the poignant and forever-relevant song "Blowin' in the Wind." It became an anthem for both U.S. civil rights and the Vietnam War era's peace movements.

Dear reader, I'd like to gently suggest that you go have a listen.

Then, after you've wiped away your tears, go do something nice for a neighbor.

The one you don't like.

Susan Odegard cares for pets and gardens.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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