Ending America’s Longest War

September 11th, 2011 - by admin

Lewis W. Diuguid/ The Kansas City Star – 2011-09-11 23:20:34


KANSAS CITY (September 11, 2011) — The growing price tag for two wars now makes peace look far more affordable.

That will be one of the messages of the 10th anniversary events commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy and accompanying wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has taken a decade, but public opinion finally has shifted from backing military action to seeking diplomatic and international remedies for the terrorist attacks.

Thank the Great Recession and the continuing economic slump. The support for peace is vastly different from passing motorists’ cursing and profane gestures at peace rallies years ago. The change is a blessing.

“There is the realization that we cannot afford the wars anymore,” said Ira Harritt, Kansas City program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee. “People are realizing that $800 billion a year for the military and these wars is not worth the price tag.”

There have been few substantive results military and Washington politicians can point to except the slaying of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Even that came at the expense of nearly 10 years, two presidents and thousands of deaths in two wars.

The awful nature of terrorism is that new leaders emerge to continue campaigns of hate. Attacking the problem with the military only feeds terrorists’ rage.

That’s why this area’s 9/11 programs will include Kansas City’s diverse faith communities in the “10 Years After 9/11: Walking the Path to Peace and Security Exhibit, Reception and Program.” Fifteen groups in the Kansas City Interfaith Council will each design 4-foot-by-6-foot panels illustrated with images, scripture, poetry and words of wisdom seeking peaceful solutions to the wars.

“It isn’t so much an anti-war commemoration as a recognition that our faiths guide us in a different direction,” Harritt said. “Our faith traditions direct us to use the power of love, faith, healing, nonviolence and caring for others as our brothers and sisters as one human family.”

Peace always seemed too untouchable. It is one of the “softer assets” compared to military hardware, soldiers, bombs and bullets. Some people feel terrified about showing kindness and peace, thinking they are weaknesses in our culture. However, it takes more strength, courage and political will to seek peaceful solutions.

Neither President George W. Bush nor President Barack Obama has demonstrated the leadership needed to put the country on a better, more sustainable path to a lasting peace. That has been the greatest tragedy in America’s longest war.

People can view the “Walking the Path to Peace and Security Exhibit” faith panels and think about better, peace-rooted solutions on Thursday at Unity Village during the World Day of Prayer. They also can attend a public commemorative event and 9/11 exhibit and program from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Shalom Room of the Community of Christ Temple, 1001 W. Walnut in Independence.

The “Walking the Path to Peace and Security” exhibit afterward will be displayed Sept. 15 through Sept. 30 at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center, 3440 S. Lee’s Summit Road in Independence. Diana Watkins, reference librarian and archivist at the center, said tables and chairs will be set up with scrapbooks so people can note their feelings about 9/11.

“Anybody who was alive at that point can tell you where they were and how they felt,” she said of remembrances of the commercial jetliners slamming into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing more than 3,000 people. “Ten years is not that long. One hundred years from now, this is still going to be a major benchmark for our country.”

Harritt wants 9/11 to be a seminal moment for the United States and the world, fulfilling the promise that the Nobel committee had for Obama in awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We recognize the sacrifice the armed forces made in pursing the war on terror. We want to remind the public there are alternatives to the challenges we face,” Harritt said. “The more we invest in military solutions, the more we are perpetuating the problems we face. I think that 10 years has shown us that doesn’t work.”

It’s past time for peace to dominate.

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