Dove of Peace

The Path of Peace and Liberty

"There is no path to peace. Peace is the path." - Mohandas Gandhi

The Non-Aggression Principle

This site is dedicated to the prospect that we can live both free and peaceful lives. It is about a simple yet powerful idea called the Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP.

For those who are either new to the NAP or seek to know more, we have provided our fellow travelers with a Beginners Guide to Peace. An overview of topics discussed can be found on the Guide page while the Resources page provides links to books, movies and other resources meant to inspire, inform and perhaps even transform.

NAP Metal Logo

Finding Peace and Liberty

Is it possible to find peace and liberty? Among the various pages of this site there are 38 images embedded with the NAP logo (not counting the banner at the top). The logo was created to symbolize the Non-Aggression Principle and its embrace of both liberty and peace. It is free to be used and shared by all those who value freedom and are opposed to the use of coercive power, whether it be by individuals, groups or the State. More information on its usage and links to downloadable versions of the logo can be found on the Feedback page.

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Tales from the Trail

Miscellaneous observations on the path of peace.

May 28: Memorial Day - Remembering and Forgetting

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Remembering

Fog of War

I have visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. a number of times and it has never failed to move me. As you enter the southwest end of the memorial you first come upon bronze statues of three U.S. servicemen. Atypical of many other memorials commemorating war, these soldiers look dazed and weary as their eyes look forlornly towards the main memorial. Following their gaze, you walk towards a "V" shaped trench gouged out of the earth, reminiscent of the trenches that are all too often the homes of soldiers in battle. As you enter the trench, you are exposed to the names of the first U.S. military deaths of that war, dated 1959, carved into cold black rock. As you move forward the trench gets deeper, the slabs of stone get higher and the listings of fatalities grow longer. As you near the point of numbness, having been exposed to tens of thousands of names, each a cold mark in stone of a live once lived, you reach the deepest part of the trench, marking the darkest years of the war. Looking up ahead, you see the names of tens of thousands more. By the time you exit the trench, emotionally drained, you have walked past the names of over 58,000 U.S. military. Exiting the memorial and heading due south, you discover another memorial, this one dedicated to the U.S. women of the Vietnam war.

Sisters of Mercy

The Forgotten

Of course, like most memorials, the site tells only part of the story. While it provides a powerful memorial to the U.S. veterans that lost their lives, they were but a small fraction of the total deaths caused by that atrocity. The toll of Vietnamese fatalities, both military and civilian, was far greater and would require another 20, 30 or even 40 more trenches to commemorate. Using conservative estimates we find that over 440,000 Vietnamese servicemen died on both sides of that conflagration along with at least 627,000 civilians. Even that is not the full story, however, as the U.S. government expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia in the late 1960's, ending the lives of another quarter million civilians.

Truelove

In additional to the costs in human lives there were the financial costs. At least three million refugees were forced to flee war zones in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Millions of acres of farmland and forests were defoliated, increasing the misery of the local people. The costs of the Vietnam war to the U.S. taxpayer for military operations alone was over $111 billion, or over $2400 for every man, woman and child living in Vietnam at a time when the average annual wage there was under $100. The $111 billion in combat costs, however, is but a small fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars in medical and other costs expended to repair the damage to families, farms and businesses shattered by the war.

As strongly as I am opposed to Communism and its restrictions on life, liberty and property, given the enormous waste of lives and treasure, surely there must have been a better way to "help" the Vietnamese people then to go to war. It was not, as one U.S. Major claimed during the Vietnam War, “necessary to destroy the town to save it”[19].

Picture credits: Photos of soldiers at the entrance the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women's Memorial, and names of deceased U.S. Vietnam war vets by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.

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May 13: Motherhood - Love, Life and Loss

"In times of peace the young bury the old. In times of war the old bury the young." - From Herodotus*

Turmoil

Mom

I came of age during the Vietnam War. It was a tumultuous time, a time for raising questions, challenging injustices and seeking new paths forward. It was also a time of great pain and suffering for many people. Millions of lives were shattered or utterly destroyed, both in the United States and across the Pacific. In beautiful distant lands the U.S. military, in a furious rage, seemed hell bent on destroying the very people it was supposedly there to protect.

During the depths of that senseless war my mother discovered that she had Multiple Sclerosis. It hit her young and it hit her hard. Within days of her 37th birthday, she was gone. As painful as that is to say, as painful as that was to experience, I cannot imagine the pain a mother or father must feel to lose a child.

Vietnam Refugee

The original quote from Herodotus, referenced above, is "In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons". War in modern times does not limit itself to destroying the lives of brave young men, however. It destroys women, children and entire families, annihilating the foundations of civilization itself.

Disease and Destruction

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a type of autoimmune disease where the body's defenses misidentify its own cells and attempts to destroy them. In the case of MS it is the lining of the spinal cord that is attacked. The individual can lose their balance, mobility, vision and even life itself through the actions of a broken and reckless immune system.

In the United States today we have the equivalent of a broken immune system. The out of control militarism and swelling empire that has coincided with it has not been healthy for the citizens it is supposedly designed to serve. It has created an unbalanced economy inordinately dependent on government spending. It has harmed mobility as passengers wait in long security lines and as goods are no longer freely traded among nations at war. Most disturbingly, it blindly attacks fellow human beings that are no threat but instead creates hatred, fear and blowback, threatening the health and lives of all.

It seems that suffering can either make you more sensitive to pain or make you more callous. The sorrow I experienced and shared with my father and brother certainly made me more aware of the pain of others. That awareness, along with a lifetime’s investigation into the sheer illogic and utter stupidity of war has led me to where I am today, passionate for peace and driven to ending the out of control militarism infecting this country. Although we live in turbulent and challenging times, it is a great time to be alive and I am thankful to my parents for bringing me into this world. I think my mother would be proud.

Picture credits: Photo of my mom taken by my dad (1967); Vietnam refugees (1963) - Photo provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

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Sermon On The Mount

April 4, 2018: A Vision for Peace

Jesus said "Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God". This vision, spoken from the heart during the Sermon on the Mount, is one of my favorites. Indeed, I have wished for it all my life. Unfortunately what I have seen instead is one war maker after another rewarded with power, usually by inciting fear and hatred. They slither into new wars, squeezing those they are supposedly defending to pay for ever more destruction. The end result is always more sorrow and suffering, the opposite of what is promised.

This does not need to be. There are millions of good Christians in the world, perhaps even hundreds of millions, who seek to live the words of Jesus. They live lives devoted to charity for the poor, help for the downtrodden and peace and good will for all. A dedicated number of them continue to this very day the difficult task of purging the world of human slavery, continuing work that first began to bear fruit in the early 1800's. In the UK it was devoted Christians, encouraged by enlightened humanists, who successfully pushed for the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire, ending the terrible institution without resorting to war and decades before the brutal and unnecessary US Civil War.

With regards to war, I have no doubt the Christians will play an important and perhaps even decisive role in ending that plague as well. As with abolition, it will no doubt require sustained and unyielding effort.

Roman Coin - Four Horsemen

A Time for Action

The time has come to end the wars, and to end them now. On this there can be no compromise. Just as "Who will pick the cotton?" was not a valid argument to support slavery, "How can we protect ourselves without military interventions?" is not a rational argument to support US military involvement in at least seven openly festering wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen ) and perhaps others not fully reported, boiling just below the surface.

Ending the wars will require strength. Unfortunately there is weakness within the Christian community. In many places, and in many nations, it has been hijacked by the State. The most famous hijacking, of course, occurred many centuries ago when the Roman emperors decided to stop killing and persecuting Christians and instead co-opted the popularity of Christianity to its own ends during the waning days of that empire.

Roman Coin - Two Faces

Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters. Unfortunately it seems that many churches have forgotten this lesson, allowing symbols of the State into houses of worship and even putting them in places of honor. It seems that some have even come to idolize the flags and symbols of the State, all the while applauding the endless military "interventions" and turning a blind eye to their global destruction and misery. Meanwhile, the State works tirelessly to push its war agenda while tens of millions are distracted by modern day gladiatorial games. The current emperor has certainly made it clear that the State's war anthem is not something to be opposed or criticized during these games.

It is time to recognize that the State is not our master. It is time for Christians and secularists, Jews and Gentiles, to break free of the State and join together to support peace, liberty and the end of all wars. We must stop being seen as willing participants or even promoters of the State's wars of death and destruction. I believe this is something we can and must agree on.

NOTE: A more detailed discussion of these topics can be found in the Beginners Guide to Peace referenced at the top of this page. An explanation of how the State hijacks religion can be found in the chapter called Losing the Way while a discussion of how to repair the damage to our culture can be found at Going Off Road.

Picture credits: Detail from "Sermon on the Mount" by Carl Bloch, c. 1877; Roman coins c. 225-212 BC, provided by Classical Numismatic Group and used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

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March 30, 2018: Good Friday?

Note: This is a reprise of an article written last year. Not much has changed.. – A.L.

Today marks the anniversary of a particularly gruesome murder.

The Passion Of Christ

A ritualized killing that is still recalled after many centuries, it was a desperate attempt to destroy the ideas of one man, a man who dared to question the morality and authorities of his time. This man certainly committed no crime that any compassionate person today would put him to death for. His death was a human sacrifice to demonstrate the power of the State.

The crucifixion of this man was a particularly cruel method of death. It was targeted to anyone who dare challenge the State. The execution was slow and brutal, designed to demonstrate the strength of the Empire and its ability to snuff out human life at will.

Has much changed in the past two millennia? It certainly seems today that many still worship the State. What has undeniably changed is that the latest Empire wields a power unfathomable by the Romans. The new Empire encircles the globe with hundreds of army, air and naval bases, commanding an arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads powerful enough to remove any trace that the Romans ever existed.

Yet, as powerful as it is, the Empire is cracking. Its current nominal leader is rudderless, without core beliefs or even a map to mark less treacherous roads. Is there any place safe from the beast as it flounders about, seemingly at random, blind to the consequences of its own reckless behavior? Are our own moral compasses strong enough to guide us through this storm?

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School Of Athens

February 8, 2018: A Matter of Perspective

One of the great innovations in the art of painting was the development of perspective. Largely absent in ancient art where important figures were portrayed larger in size and with little depth, experimentations in perspective that began with the ancient Greeks and were refined by the Chinese blossomed in Renaissance Europe. Instead of depicting flat and oddly proportioned bodies, canvases came alive as painter magicians combined the ingredients of vanishing points, foreshortening and sfumato, the effect of atmosphere over distance.

One beautiful example is Raphael's "The School of Athens". It not only demonstrates a mastery of depth and perspective, it also captures the vital energy of philosophical discourse that had occurred many centuries earlier in ancient Greece. Epicureans and stoics, Platonists and atomists, cynics and skeptics enthusiastically discussed and debated the nature of reality, the purpose of life, and the best ways to live.

WhereDidWeComeFrom

In contrast to that time, some elements of our culture seem particularly flat, especially with respect to political discourse. Without depth or dimension, a false dichotomy of right versus left prevails, with little or no awareness of what's up and what's down, or where we came from, or where we are going.

The mainstream media, seemingly lacking a wider perspective, overly focuses on the personalities of those who seek power, making them look larger than life and distorting their importance. They overly fixate on the win-lose nature of politics, cheering on the contest with little questioning of the destructive nature of the game itself.

Venice

The people in power, in turn, seem incapable of seeing beyond a single dimension. Lacking any depth of understanding regarding the win-win nature of free trade and voluntary social interactions, they instead fixate on military and other coercive "solutions", inserting aggression into the normally consensual relationships of commerce and community. They have no real sense of beauty, principle or moral virtue, seeking only victory to gain power and to rule over others.

Finally there are the citizens. Often misinformed but nonetheless willing participants in the political process, they flail back and forth within the narrow confines of left and right, seemingly distracted by the smallest of issues and unable to see the bigger picture. Blocked in their desire for peace and prosperity by forces they cannot see, they fixate on small obstacles but perceive them as an insurmountable barriers. Lacking perspective, they are unable to see alternate paths forward.

Nolan Chart

As long as people are locked into the false dichotomy of left and right, they will forever be unable to see the fuller, richer reality. By extending our vision by even one dimension, however, we can become aware of details previously hidden. By distinguishing between personal freedom and economic freedom, for example, we can map out a richer and more vibrant landscape in which to discuss politics. Opponents that once seemed radically different, such as the National Socialists (Nazis) of Germany and the International Communists of the USSR, are revealed to be closely related when viewed from a two dimensional perspective. Instead of being viewed as extremes sides of a left-right dichotomy, we can more easily see the similarities of these two authoritarian systems that severely restricted both personal and economic freedom, each destroying the lives of millions.

Picture credits: "School of Athens" by Raphael, c. 1509-1511; "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" by Paul Gauguin, c. 1897; "Return of the Bucentoro to the Molo on Ascension Day" by Canaletto, c. 1733-4; "The Nolan Chart", from a diagram created by David Nolan in 1969.

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Freedom From Want

November 16, 2017: Failure to Communicate

A recent survey of Americans revealed that 69% would skip holiday gift giving if their friends and family would agree. Most of those surveyed opined that they would have more time with loved ones if they weren’t so busy shopping.

To quote the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Over two thirds of Americans are doing something they do not want to do yet they could easily remedy it by openly talking to those they are closest with. What is the cause of this communication breakdown? Is it possible that there are other things that people are not talking about, but should?

Sinead

It has become painfully obvious that many in Hollywood knew of the sexual predations of producers and others with power but remained silent for years. Perhaps some of the victims and witnesses saw what happened to Sinead O’Connor. In the early 90’s the young singer tried to kick start a conversation about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church through a song and strong symbolic gesture but was instead harassed mercilessly by those who were either ignorant of the facts or wished not to know.

As serious as these past and current sexual abuse accusations are, there are even more disturbing things afoot. In what is perhaps the most stunning silence of our modern times, there has been near total absence of discussion regarding the out of control militarization of American culture and its brutal effects on nations across the globe. From Bush to Clinton to Bush Jr and Obama, this moral outrage has remained largely unspoken, and perhaps unknown, by the majority of Americans as the number of wars has continued to grow, costing trillions of dollars and inflicting untold misery.

In this holiday time, in the spirit of those speaking out against sexual aggression, we call on all good people to voice their opposition now to the endless wars abroad and the coinciding attacks against personal freedom at home.

We must work together to be heard. Politicians are masters at silencing the peaceful through evasion, intimidation and fear. They are practiced deflectors, able to distract people with heated discussions of flag burning and arguments over whether to stand for a war anthem. They are merciless against any that would blow the whistle. It is unfortunate that the compliant mainstream media continues to provide them cover, finding it much easier to sell ads by not opposing the State. Ratings do go up, after all, at the start of each big new war while old wars continue to smolder and destroy, largely without notice.

The time for fearlessness is now. We have long been told to never let down our guard yet failed to notice our gradual enslavement to the State. Let’s be brave and be willing to stand together now and endure whatever repercussions come from quickly exiting these wars.

Let’s also be honest. The United States did not end when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, and the world will not come to an end when the US inevitably withdraws from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This is not isolationism. We do not need to withdraw from the world but can instead, by withdrawing from militarism, embrace it through the promotion of travel, trade and shared good will.

Picture credits: "Freedom from Want" by Norman Rockwell, Sinead O'Connor on "Saturday Night Live", October 3, 1992.

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Peace Flag

November 12, 2017: Can we agree on this?

Look, we all want Peace, right?

Why, then, don’t we have it?

Perhaps we are afraid of appearing foolish to want it so much..

Perhaps we are afraid of being perceived as naïve children or uninhibited hippies from the sixties..

The truth is that Peace is a thing to be desired by mature adults as well as children and dreamers. We don’t necessarily need to be covered with Peace signs or wear flowers in our hair to show how much we want it. We just need to live our lives as people who have fully embraced it.

One thing we can surely do is to stop participating in the partisan bickering. We need to escape the deadlock of the two-party duopoly that has tried to silence diverse voices, from Ralph Nader to Ron Paul, that challenge the system and debunk the false narratives. We need to stop pretending there is a real choice between the Democrats and Republicans. We need to recognize that they are dividing us, pitting clan against tribe, city against country, women against men and men against women.

What we need to do instead is to embrace those things that unite us, and surely one of these must be the desire for Peace. Over the course of the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to both natural and unexpected allies, revealing the common elements that unite us through our opposition to war and embrace of the Non-Aggression Principle. Through open letters, I hope to cut through the lies that politicians and other have used to try to divide us and demonstrate the many benefits that a devotion to Peace can provide.

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November 2, 2017: Fragile Democracy

Democracy must be a delicate thing to be so easily damaged by the mere possibly of fake news from foreigners. The mainstream media is all in a tither over the possibility of Russian interference in U.S. elections. As usual I suspect they are probably missing the real story. Let’s take a look for ourselves at some of the electronic ads “the Russians” reportedly paid to promote during the last election cycle.

Electronic Ad #1

Why do I have a gun?

Other than a small grammatical error, what is wrong with this ad? It is a fact, after all, that guns are used as deterrents from crime tens of thousands of times each year in the United States alone. And it is no secret that many in the Democratic party are quite open about their desire to increase gun control. Considering these facts, I think it is clear that the people attracted to this ad would not likely have been supporters of Hilary Clinton.

By the way, I think I should start putting quotes around the “Democratic” party brand to emphasize the irony of the name, especially considering how the DNC short circuited the democratic process internally to bend the election towards HRC in the last primary.


Electronic Ad #2

Is this ad considered dangerous because it is factually inaccurate?

HRC and Vets

I find it hard to believe that Hilary Rodham Clinton only had a 69% disapproval rating among veterans during the last election cycle. I would have thought it was much higher than that, considering how she contributed heavily towards getting U.S. troops involved in new wars, this time with the Libyan and Syrian peoples. HRC also had a bad reputation among veterans for minimizing issues being reported by injured vets and their families at US VA hospitals. I doubt the people who identified with this ad would need much reminding to not vote for Hillary.

With regards to the picture in the ad, it seems odd that Social Justice Warriors, among HRC’s biggest supporters, seem more concerned with perceived social slights to a rotating selection of victim groups within the U.S. than with the wholesale assault and destruction of families, tribes and entire nations across Asia and Africa caused by a militarized U.S. foreign policy, one that HRC seemed quite comfortable with.

Electronic Ad #3

Bernie Sanders

Was Bernie Sander’s misquoted? If not, what is the “problem” with this ad?

There is certainly plenty of published evidence of “pay to play” deals and the use of Clinton Foundation funds to help pay for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

Perhaps this ad was produced to remind Bernie Sanders supporters of what was done to their candidate by the HRC dominated “Democratic” Party during the 2016 primaries.


Russian Interference?

Were these and other ads enough to tip the balance towards Trump? Was the will of the people denied by interference from the Russians? Did any of this have any measurable effect at all on the last U.S. election?

The Russians certainly didn’t interfere with my "democratic rights". I was appalled by both major candidates, and finding no anti-war candidates among the other parties who were also committed to economic and social freedom, I decided to once again stay home on election day.

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April 1, 2017: Good News or Bad?

~ Were the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election good news or bad news for lovers of peace and liberty?

When the 2016 US presidential election results were finally revealed there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some less experienced survivors of the election process decried the results as the “worst thing ever”, conveniently ignoring two world wars, the bubonic plague and other minor occurrences.

Lao,Buddha,Confucious

The youth, of course, can be forgiven for their tendency towards hyperbole. Wiser, more traveled folk, however, must observe these things with a calmer, wider perspective. One beautiful illustration of this is the following Chinese parable:


There was once an old Chinese farmer who had the apparent misfortune of having his best stallion run off. His neighbor came over to express his regrets, but the farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the stallion returned bringing with him three wild mares. The neighbor rushed back to celebrate with the farmer, but the old farmer simply said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The following day, the farmer’s son fell from one of the wild mares while trying to break her in and broke his arm and injured his leg. The neighbor came by to check on the son and give his condolences, but the old farmer just said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” The next day the army came to the farm to conscript the farmer’s son for the war, but found him invalid and left him with his father. The neighbor thought to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.”


So was the election of Donald Trump good or bad? For someone with a libertarian perspective, the past election cycle was just another repetition of an endless process where the most vile and power-hungry gnaw their way to the top. There was certainly no peace and liberty candidate amongst the two major parties, with both the Republican and the Democratic nominees trying to outdo each other with their blatant militarism. At best, Trump was perhaps 4% less belligerent with respect to foreign policy, offering some skepticism of the Iraq war and making some overtures towards improving relations with Russia.

The Green party candidate at least got points for proposing a position for Edward Snowden in her cabinet. Unfortunately, her economic proposals were the typical socialist nostrums that have proved a failure in countries throughout Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment, though, was the Libertarian party candidate. The candidate and his running mate may very well have confused and turned off perspective libertarians for a generation. With a seeming disregard or misunderstanding of property rights, their proposals, other than the legalization of marijuana, had seemingly little connection to the Non-Aggression Principle, one of the foundations of libertarianism.

Augustus Caesar

Was the election of Donald Trump good or bad? The power that is now in the President's hands is both vast and dangerous. This would have been the case whichever candidate had won. The fact is that governments at nearly all levels have grown excessively powerful, wielding the ability to destroy life and liberty with little or no restriction, let alone justification.

If more people have awoken to the enormity of state power and its ability to disrupt the lives of people throughout the world, it may be a good thing. If more of us are willing to push back, reclaiming the right of all people to liberty and peace, it may be an even better thing. And if more people can see past the artificial divisions created by partisan politics and unite to press for both a containment of and rapid halt to the spreading flames of war, it may be the best news of all.


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Traveler Advisory

War-Biohazard

War is threatening to become pandemic across several large regions of the globe and there are signs that we are on the verge of a world wide epidemic. Careful planning and extreme caution are advised.

The war disease continues to shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, both directly and through destruction of basic social services.

Please check back for additional information.



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