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WE THE PEOPLE: Wishing you love, laughter and peace
CROSSVILLE — “There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after, tomorrow when the world is free.” That line from a song popular during World War II made us feel good and gave us hope at the time. But instead of “peace ever after” we got perpetual war. Even though there has been a law on the books in the U.S. for 83 years making war a crime and perpetrators liable to prosecution just like other criminals, vast numbers of people are still being murdered.
Following World War I an aggressive world-wide peace movement, supported by an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens, resulted in the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It renounced war as an instrument of national policy and resolved that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means. What a concept! The treaty was signed by 14 nations immediately, and 62 eventually. President Hoover stated: “I dare predict that the influence of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War will be felt in large proportion of all future international acts.” He was wrong. Within twelve years all of the nations that signed the treaty were involved in a war of the largest scale in the history of the world.
The U.S has never repealed the treaty; it is still on the books as part of the supreme law of the land. But laws, like the Constitution, are often conveniently shoved out of sight. I dare say that few U.S. citizens other than historians even know about Kellogg-Briand, probably none of our lawmakers. I learned about it from David Swanson’s book, “When the World Outlawed War.” It is a good read and proves how much a group of people committed to eliminating war and injustice can accomplish.
Things have changed since the peace movement of the 1920s when peace was actually patriotic. We of the so-called “greatest generation” were so busy accumulating “stuff” that we didn’t heed Ike’s warning about the military-industrial complex. Now the war profiteers pull the strings in Congress. And while our bridges collapse and our schools crumble, we continue waging long and costly wars.
I know that peace is not likely to break out in my lifetime. My cynical self keeps telling me that it will only happen when someone discovers a way to make a profit from it. But there are two young men in my life who keep my hope alive and will keep me plugging away for peace. They are my great grandsons: five-year-old Keegan Forbes DeSantis, and Knox Anthony Chanudet who will be two weeks old the day this is published.
The “peace ever after” that the songwriters promised us hasn’t worked out, but “love and laughter” has seen our family through good times and bad, and it will see us through whatever is in our future.
For Keegan, Knox, and all the other children of the world, may your lives be filled with love and laughter, and may in your lifetime there be “peace on earth among men of good will.”