Ice Cream Expo
5/19/2005, United States of America ≈ Peace?
First off, sorry for not posting to my journal in a while. My mom was here for a couple weeks (4/27/2005 to 5/11/2005). I'm currently working on the entries for that time, but it's taking a while. I'll post them all at once.
It's a little interesting being in a peace-oriented country like Japan at a time when the United States is seen as a big aggressor. Granted, both Japan and the United States have gone through periods of peace-activism and violence-activism. But, at the moment, Japan is very focused on peace. It's a theme in public parks, in school, and in the minds of people I meet. This is a country that was at the center of a fierce war, came out on the bottom, and made a very conscious effort to turn away from violence and promote peace. This is also a country that experienced one of the great violent tragedies of history in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Never mind the details of all that, for now. At the moment, the United States is largely seen as a big aggressor as a result of an unjustified war in Iraq. Personally, I think there were reasons for the war, but they weren't adequate and they were augmented with other false reasons. Furthermore, regardless of the reasons, the unilateral approach, sidestepping the United Nations, was terrible. Again, that's another story.
All of this leaves me feeling a little awkward at times. For example, this week, I was asked to hunt down "messages about peace from around the world" from the internet. I did some searches and found two kinds of information. First, I found a quote from Nelson Mandela blasting George W Bush for his cavelier attitudes, disrespect of the United Nations, and the Iraq war. There was other stuff like that, talking about how the United States offends world peace. And, I found collections of quotes about peace, the majority of which came from Americans (especially former presidents) such as Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Robert Fulghum, Martin Luther King Jr, Jimmy Carter, John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So, here I am an American, a purveyor of violence (not really, but you could see it that way), telling these people all the wonderful things Americans have to say about maintaining world peace. It's just a little weird.
I guess America has an interesting relationship with peace. We have committed some very violent acts in some parts of history. We've also done a lot to maintain world peace at times in history. Being ignorant of history, I asked my co-worker, a Japanese teacher of English, what America has done for peace in history. He gave me three examples. First, America started the Peace Corps, which he admires and which Japan has emulated. Second, America has the Declaration of Independence, which he sees as an international symbol of peace. Third, America influenced the Japanese Constitution, which is re-created Japan in the image of peace. He and many (but not all) Japanese people are proud of their peace-oriented Constitution. I guess the United States has done a lot in history to advance both the causes of peace and violence. Maybe committing violent acts makes a country see the effects and, temporarily turn strongly away from violence and advocate peace.
Feel free to email me with your thoughts about this. I'll be happy to add them here, if you like.
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