How To Stop A War - John Samuel Tieman

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the article "How To Stop A War " by John Samuel Tieman.

Just War Theory is a terrible name. It sounds like, “Hey, it's just war.” But it is a serious theory. It began as a theological construct in the medieval period. Today, it is still taught in theology classes, as well as the military academies, and schools of political science and diplomacy.

İn brief, Just War Theory asks if going to a war is justifiable, and, once that war is engaged, if the conduct of that war is likewise justifiable. Here are some of the criteria. A war must have a just cause. War has to be the last resort. Soldiers are required to care humanely for prisoners. All targets must have a legitimate military objective. And so on. Depending upon the theorist, there are about a dozen considerations.

I would add one other criterion. You must imagine your enemy to be just like you.

I was watching the news on our TV. A Russian aircraft was hit by a ground-to-air missile. It crashed in flames. Ukrainians were cheering. The camera flashed to a bar in America, where those folks were cheering. I turned to my wife and said, “However much we hate this invasion, that Russian is someone's child.”

The greatest lie of any war is that our enemy is remarkably different from us. That because they have a different language, a different religion, a different race, that they are nothing like us. That the enemy is never just a kid. That the enemy is never sad, lonely, traumatized. That the enemy never laughs, sings, wears a wedding dress.

People are much more similar than we are different. I am thinking of research done by Abraham Maslow. Malsow's “Hierarchy of Needs” posits that everyone has certain needs. Among the most basic are hunger, thirst, safety, sex. He posits that these must be met before a person addresses higher needs like love, belonging, aesthetic fulfillment, self-actualization. I draw from this the conclusion that folks have more in common than they have differences. The differences are not to be dismissed. But the similarities are to be honored.

A few years ago, I was on a train in transit from Prague to Vienna. I felt the urge to compose a poem, perhaps something about a holy moment, the Elevation at the Mass, or just a simple moment filled with incense. Instead, I remembered Basic Training. 1969 and I was 19. At the rifle range, I'd aim my M-14 at a target that looked like a man in silhouette. I imagined a Communist. Except I was just this Midwestern kid. I'd never met a Communist, much less a Czech or an Austrian. I learned how to kill one nonetheless. That day between Prague and Vienna, I imagined the young Czech, seated catty-corner from me, to be the grandson of my enemy. Then I imagined his grandmother.

That's when I learned how to stop a war. A soldier goes to the rifle range. When the pop-up target appears, instead of a silhouette of the enemy, let a photograph of the enemy appear. A photograph of that enemy soldier in her wedding dress.

Let me be perfectly clear. The defense of the Ukraine is entirely justified. I hate Putin's invasion. I mourn for the suffering of the Ukrainians.

I hate war, any war, all war. Because of that, when I see a Russian plane shot down, when I hear people cheer, I will remember that this pilot is some mother's child. And I won't simply remember. I will imagine a pilot named Mikhail, or a pilot named Tatyana. I will imagine a mother weeping. I invite my reader to do the same. Why? Because the moans and tears of our enemy's mother, when we imagine those, when those sorrows become our sorrows, that's how we stop a war.

2022.03.21 / 10:14
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