Saturday, February 19, 2011

Save Money. Work For Peace

If you haven't noticed, the U.S. government is gearing up for a "battle" over the federal budget. The President has proposed his version of a budget that will address concerns about the federal deficit which include a variety of controversial spending cuts. Meanwhile, Republicans are making their own efforts at cutting spending.

Any serious discussion about government spending has to include a discussion about defense spending. Did you know, for example that the 2011 budget for the Department of Defense is 548.9 billion dollars, an increase of 3.4% from 2010?

Let me see if I understand this. We have money to blow up insurgents in Afghanistan but we don't have money to warm up the homes of low-income Americans? There is something wrong with this picture. Baha'u'llah put it this way:

"O ye rulers of the earth! Wherefore have ye clouded the radiance of the Sun, and caused it to cease from shining? Hearken unto the counsel given you by the Pen of the Most High, that haply both ye and the poor may attain unto tranquillity and peace...Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions." (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 92)

While some have called for cuts in military spending and some cuts have already been made, what Baha'u'llah is saying goes beyond spending cuts. Those who claim to care about government spending need to show it by investing in creating the conditions that make meaningful cuts in military spending possible. They need to invest in peace. In the language of the bumper-sticker: Save Money. Work for Peace.

As a nation that currently leads the way in world military spending, we can and should lead the way in peacemaking and demilitarization. This was the hope voiced by 'Abdu'l-Baha during his journey to this country in 1912:

" wish and hope is that the banner of international reconciliation may first be raised on this continent and the standard of the Most Great Peace be unfurled here. May the American people and their government unite in their efforts in order that this light may dawn from this point and spread to all regions, for this is one of the greatest bestowals of God. In order that America may avail herself of this opportunity, I beg that you strive and pray with heart and soul, devoting all your energies to this end: that the banner of international peace may be upraised here and that this democracy may be the cause of the cessation of warfare in all other countries." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 83)

As Shoghi Effendi has told us, the things we could do through redirecting the time, energy, and resources on excessive militarism are extraordinary:

"The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race." (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 204)


  1. Rick Schaut6:02 PM


    It certainly wouldn't hurt to cut defense spending, but the real budget problem in the United States, at least in the long term, is health care.

  2. Well done here! I agree with Rick that health expenditures are looming too - but the real restructuring of those will have to come when a massive shift in the American psyche occurs. When the foundational elements of our cancerous form of capitalism are rejected then the assumptions underlying the insane concepts of 'healthcare as business' will begin to crumble.

    Jim Harrison
    Portland, OR

  3. Great post! That pie chart makes the US look like the Tony Montana of all the nations in world. Paranoid, HEAVILY armed, and.....high on cocaine.

  4. Some words from an 60's +song come to mind---"War, good God ya all---what is it good for?!"

  5. Anonymous10:27 PM

    My parents told me stories about the US going from a wartime to a peacetime economy after the end of WWII. After the war was over, the factories needed retooling to manufacture peaceful products such as washing machines, household items, etc. There was a large number of soon to be unemployed returning military personnel and few jobs to support them. The G.I. Bill enabled large number of men to go to school hence reducing the unemployment rate. Because of the G.I. Bill, a large number of men were able to attend college and technical school which contributed to the rise of the middle class and to a highly educated workforce.

    In order to reduce military spending, we must find ways of employing the people currently working on military projects and products to peace time projects and products. It will take a change in our value system and for people to think independently rather then like sheep.

    If we spend a fraction of our military budget on helping other countries build their own schools, hospital, transportation and public health system, we would not need to spend so much money on war equipment. If we focused our national attention on the right of women in all nations, we would do more for peace building then all of the weapons in the world. All of the world's security problems are a result of spiritual ills and only spiritual solutions will fix them.

  6. This is an interesting dilemma...

    On one hand there are those who are arguing that the USA needs to get out of the UN and TOTALLY withdraw from Global politics and bring every USA Soldier back to the United States and patrol the border between the USA and Mexico to get rid of the USA Debt Re open American factories...

    On the Other Hand there is Iran AND other Islamic extremists who want to bring an Islamic World Order to the planet and impose Sharia Law world wide...

    so what is the third alternative??? Inquiring minds gotta know???