Understanding Understanding

The end of a decade is usually marked by some kind of retrospective. Yet, in the media and amongst friends I see less than usual of this discussion. I wonder if we are in a state of denial that ten years has passed from what we thought was going to be a New Age summoned by Y2K.

The term Y2K itself suggested a new world awaited us. The renaissance may have been resisted in the larger sense by old-world hangers-on. As technology clearly pushes us further ahead into an uncertain economic world, little seems to have touched the more important social issue, our serving now as witnesses to the corrupt concept that war, or violence, can resolve conflict. This, even though we all know it can not.

I am not a pacifist. I believe strongly in self-defense, including inflicting a fatal defense if necessary. Our millennial moment in the year 2000 was marked by an American president hell-bent on going into war. Now, ten years gone from our Age, war is tacitly carried on by Republicans, Democrats, and by millions of others here and around the world. They have a stronghold on our renaissance, in which instead, we could live in peace.

Peace does not mean without conflict. Rather it is constraining and hopefully resolving conflict through peaceful means. We have not learned from the year 10 under the Roman Empire domination, or a thousand years later in 1010 during the Viking Age, and now a thousand years more, that even under American authority in which we place a certain sense of both deserved and undeserved righteousness, violence does not keep the peace. It plugs one outlet, only to reroute violent minded people to other valves -- desperately driven imaginative valves like using an airplane itself to be a weapon as the Rising Sun kamikazes did in World War II. This reference is all too clear forwarding sixty years to a beautiful rising sun on a Tuesday morning in New York City when a few hours later that sun went black, eclipsed by destruction.

I hope that 2011 will mark the beginning of a decade where more people grasp an understanding of understanding. It requires each of us to see adversary as a situation that does not reduce us to barbarians, but to understanding ourselves as complex people with varied backgrounds and even more individual life stories that need to be respected. Without respect for one another we lose one of the greatest attributes to foster within ourselves. And that is our own self respect.