Dove of Peace

The Path of Peace and Liberty - Archive

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

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo

The Non-Aggression Principle

This site is about a simple yet powerful idea called the Non-Aggression Principle. Like the symbol of the dove, it is an idea that embodies both Freedom and Peace.

The Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP, is the belief that individuals should be free to act as they choose with the exception that they may not initiate force, or the threat of force, against another person or their property. Like the Golden Rule, the NAP can be a beacon of light to guide each of us through the journey of a lifetime.


Tales from the Trail: 2017-2018

Observations and meditations on the path of peace.

Christmas: Inns and Outs

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." - Jesus of Nazareth.

The Good Samaritan


One of the most popular parables of the New Testament is the tale of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans were a group of people that lived in Judea at the time of Jesus. They rejected the idea that the only place that God could be worshiped was in the temple in Jerusalem. Because of this they were not highly regarded by the pharisees and a number of other Jews.

In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is robbed and left for dead. Two members of the priestly class see the suffering man but do nothing to help, not wishing to become "ritually impure". Eventually a Samaritan comes upon the man and, with a compassionate heart, binds the man's wounds, transports him to an inn and provides payment for his care. Through his actions the Samaritan shows that he is the one who is truly doing the work of God.

The origins of kindness


All that we are, this very life we have, flows from an extended family that reaches deep into the distant past. We all come into this life through the efforts of our parents, and they by their parents, and their parents' parents, helped through the ages by supportive brothers and sisters, caring aunts and uncles, and wise elder relatives.

Our family is our earliest connection to others. These are our kin, the very origin of kindness, both the word and the act. From our family we learn to look beyond ourselves, to share, to care and to consider the needs of others.


Trace any family tree back several generations and you quickly find connections to dozens, hundreds, and eventually unknown thousands of other families. We are truly one human family, all linked together and dependent on one another, and increasingly so.

Poets, prophets and sages through the ages have commented on the connections among all peoples and even among all things. John Donne expressed this idea beautifully in the following poem:

Cosmic web

No man is an island, entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Healing the divisions

Politicians rule by dividing. Wise men heal by uniting.

We live in a world artificially divided into us versus them. Unnecessary destruction, cruelty and death are tragedies whether they happen in foreign lands or in one's own home. Instead of division, let us be guided by the Non-Aggression Principle and its embrace of both liberty and peace. Let us liberate ourselves from hatred and fear, whether the source be antiquated religious ideals of purity and separation or the venomous propaganda and active aggressions of the State. It is time to truly embrace peace among all nations and all people.

Further Explorations

Breaking free of harmful cultural practices and beliefs can be difficult. We explore these ideas further in the chapter Going Off Road in our free online book Beginner's Guide to Peace.

Picture Credits

The Good Samaritan. Detail from a painting by Balthasar van Cortbemde (1647). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Fifty-fifty. Photo by Herbert E. French (1922). Public domain photo downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Cosmic connections. Top left image shows distribution of galaxies, bottom right shows neurons. Image of galaxies is from the Max Planck Society's Supercomputing Center in Garching, Germany. Image of neurons is from Paul De Koninck, Cervo Brain Research Center. Images compined and edited by Andrew Lesko.


Buchenwald Liberation

August 6-9: Witnessing

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” - Elie Wiesel

The denial of history

Near the end of World War II, as Nazi concentration and death camps were liberated by the allied forces, nearby townspeople at a number of sites were forced to march through the factories of death and cruelty. Some of the locals were quoted as saying that they were not aware that such a thing was happening in their homeland and, very nearly, in their own backyards.

It seems cruelly ironic to collectively pass guilt on all the German people for the horrors of the holocaust. The belief in group guilt and the infliction of collective punishment are both morally repugnant. The Jews were wrongly and viciously targeted because of a Nazi belief in the collective guilt of all Jews for an atrocity millennia earlier. Homosexuals, intellectuals, political opponents and others were also collectively punished for equally absurd reasons.

In the end we do not know what responsibility any individual townsperson had in the incarceration of thousands of lives and the incineration of many thousands more. As a group, however, they did have have a singular responsibility in the aftermath. Having laid eyes on the horror of these pits of hell, the most important task of the townspeople was to bear witness, to observe and report what had happened to guide future generations from committing similar atrocities. As General Eisenhower said after visiting one of the death camps, “Get it all on record now, get the films, get the witnesses, because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”

Nagasaki Bomb

A history of denial

August 6 marks the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. On that date in 1945, within a matter of seconds, tens of thousands of people in the Japanese city of Hiroshima were incinerated. That atrocity was followed just three days later, on August 9, by the detonation of a second atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki. A mere four months after the atrocities of the Nazis had been revealed to the world the United States had committed its own terrible acts of collective punishment.

Throughout the war the United States government was quick to publicize German and Japanese atrocities but worked overtime to hide its own barbarism. Shortly after assuming the role of Viceroy of Japan, General McAuthor imposed total censorship on journalists wishing to report the aftermath of the atomic bombs, either confiscating or destroying nearly all photographic evidence taken at the two sites. We now know that, by a single act, the U.S. government had murdered at least 80,000 civilians at Hiroshima, including 20,000 conscripted Koreans forced to work for the Japanese. In addition to the tens of thousands that died instantly, many tens of thousands more died slow agonizing deaths from radiation poisoning and other injuries. At Nagasaki the civilian death toll was at least 60,000. Ironically, the all-Christian crew of the second bomber managed to do what various Japanese governments had been unable to do for centuries: by dropping the bomb on Nagasaki, they annihilated the largest Christian community in Japan, a community of thousands that had been forced to go underground in the 1600’s and survived in secret for over two centuries before the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873.

While we have long been told that the use of nuclear weapons was necessary to end the war, a number of high ranking officers, including General Eisenhower and Admirals Halsey and Leahy, thought that they were not needed. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, had in fact advised the Truman administration against using the new weapon.

Unfortunately, here in the United States we continue to live under a veil of ignorance, both with regard to World War II and to the seven or more current wars that the U.S. is either leading or participating in. In this hyper-connected world that provides billions with the access to instant information, there seems to be little knowledge in this country of the damage and suffering caused by decades of war and political and economic interference by the U.S. government.

Worth the price?

Is the Price Worth It?

In 1991, after a massive 42 day bombing campaign that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, in part due to the targeting of water treatment plants, George H.W. Bush proudly proclaimed that the U.S. had "kicked the Vietnam syndrome". In doing so Bush tortured the English language to mock the natural and rational reluctance of the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens to insert themselves into new wars while deliberately hiding the war crimes that the U.S. government had committed. The following President, Bill Clinton, added to the misery in the Middle East by enforcing brutal economic sanctions against the Iraqi people, sanctions that the United Nations estimated resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children, more than had died at Hiroshima.

The cost of ignorance

Ignorance is not bliss. While the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens may not know the full extent of the war crimes committed in their name by their "representative government", the people of the Middle East certainly know. In addition to recognizing the human and monetary costs of these wars, we who are opposed to war also understand the principle of blowback, a term coined by the C.I.A. to describe the unintended consequences of covert actions by the U.S. government in other countries. Having opened Pandora's Box in the 1850's by forcing open Japanese ports through the threat of naval bombardment, the U.S. reaped what it had sown decades later, with devastating consequences for much of east and southeast Asia as well. What will the ultimate consequences be for U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen and other countries not yet reported?

Further Explorations

Additional discussion of the futility and ultimate costs of war can be found in the chapter Dead Ends in the Beginner's Guide to Peace.


Picture Credits

Buchenwald survivors, including Elie Wiesel, quoted above. Instead of piles of bodies, I choose this picture of the survivors of the Buchenwald death camp to illustrate not just the horrors of the State but also the dignity and strength of the human spirit. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear cloud over Nagasaki. Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, with modifications.

Is the price worth it? Screen capture of Iraqi victims of U.S. economic sanctions, from Leslie Stahl interview of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the 60 Minutes news program, May 12, 1996. The dialog is as follows - Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it."


May 28: Memorial Day - Remembering and Forgetting

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


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.


In addition 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.


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*



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 also 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

Mom, photographed by my dad in 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.


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?


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 a 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Traveler Advisory


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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