Dear Editor:

As a child, I remember thinking and asking, “Why do we have war?” As a teenager in an International Relations class, I asked the same question and got less tender, but more realistic responses. As a history and English major, and later English professor, poetry became my answer, and I was probably considered an irrelevant, idealistic dreamer.

I asked my older brother, who was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and navigator on the bombers in the Vietnam War, “Did you kill anybody?” “Yes,” he answered, “but I didn’t want to.”

In the later '60s and '70s, I saw my late husband Kenneth Dean’s bravery and fighting strength during the Civil Rights struggle in Mississippi. He fought, as did so many other leaders in that time, for equal rights through non-violence. This non-violent movement made essential positive changes in our democracy. Yes, I saw violence then, too, but more change came through political, educational and economic commitment to equality of the races.

I went on to study psychology, family therapy and theology. In studying world religions, I found an element of peace-seeking in Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and other religious sects. I asked the same question. “Why do we still kill each other over culture and religion?”

The recent killing of Qassem Soleimani in Iran has brought the same tragic question to me. A comment from a listener to Smercomish on CNN on Jan. 4, 2020, highlights my thought. “It may have been justified, but it was not wise.”

How much are we doing that may be justified for our own ego, our own bank account, our own region, our own country that is not wise? It is not just our lives that are important, but we are not preparing for the next century. We will die, but what will we leave — humanitarian progress or dehumanization in the name of selfishness?

Nature is also responding to our greed and selfishness. Nature rebels through climate change in fires, floods, unnecessary destruction of animal life on land and sea. Will we wallow in the last two or three generations that we have left, or will we preach and teach peace now? We continue to make war on nature by our selfish economic misuse of water, oil, coal and land.

I had never seen "Planet of the Apes" until a couple of nights ago. That fictional wake-up call came at a time for all to profit from viewing it. Is our humanity regressing to a level beneath the apes? Has war brought us closer to destroying intelligence and nurturing love?

In watching Marianne Williamson on CNN on Jan. 4, 2020, I saw the first candidate to confirm that I am not crazy or totally idealistic to think that the world order can teach, preach and cultivate world peace, as more important than economics or politics, or religious differences. Is it possible that we do not have to have war?

May we be more active in cultivating radical peace than we are in promoting ourselves only for this generation.

Mary James Dean

Carrollton, Georgia

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