Why write a list of the ways to help start a war when it's possible to compile a list of the ways to prevent war? Actually this list started out as a list of ways to prevent war. But it sounded too much like something I've heard many times before. Perhaps in this crazy world with as many as fifty or more wars taking place at any given time, a list of ways to help start a war makes more "sense." Perhaps a "backwards" angle like this, of looking at peace and war will make a deeper impression, and be a more memorable reminder of small, but important steps each person can take to make this world more peaceful, and therefore more civilized and humane.
The Top Ways to Help Start a War
(in no particular order)
1. Be willing to fight and kill others. Join the military. If everyone refused to fight, there would be no war. Can you even imagine what the world would be like without any wars? Say nothing when a friend, neighbor, or someone you know, in order to get a reliable paying job, joins the military; or in order to get free money for college, decides to become a mercenary, and enlists. Avoid factual information about war. For example in WW1 twenty soldiers were killed for every civilian death. In WW2 the ratio was one soldier dead for every five civilian deaths. But in the 200 wars that have been fought since WW2, 90% of the victims have been civilians (Kassman in Overcoming Violence, page 60, Pub. 1998) Killing civilians is primarily what soldiers at war do nowadays. However don't worry about that. Since warfare has entered the high-tech era you can "fight" from a safe (for you) distance and may never see any of your civilian victims.
2. Buy war toys as playthings for your children.
3. Don't discourage or interfere with attempts by government and business to manufacture, market, and sell weapons to any country that can afford to buy them. Better yet, actually work in the arms industry helping manufacture the weapons used in warfare.
4. Be cautious about who you forgive for their sins and how often you forgive. This especially applies to criminals, strangers, foreigners, or enemy nations who might sin against you or against your country. Be hesitant about asking others or God to forgive you. Limit your forgiveness to family and close friends. If it's hard to forgive, don't bother trying. Although forgiveness can be difficult and take a lifetime, it can also be contagious. Avoid catching it.
5. Keep in mind that the only people really created in the image of God are those who think, talk, and look like you.
6. Silently help to pay for war with your tax dollars.
7. Believe the news you get from newspapers, news magazines, TV, or radio. Here in the United States where we have freedom of speech and press you can assume that the news is unbiased, accurate, objective, fair, and balanced. Especially avoid foreign newspapers, small independent web sites (such as Alternet, Truthout, and Freezerbox), short wave radio, and alternative magazines, newspapers, and web sites. Don't waste time or money trying to find another perspective. There probably isn't one, and if there is, it's undoubtedly fictitious.
8. Don't pray for peace. It might work.
9. Avoid communicating your concerns about war to senators, representatives, or the president.
10. Be sure to forget that military violence has exactly the same kind of effect on human bodies and human relationships as any other kind of violence you can name: street violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, drug-related violence, criminal violence, gang violence, etc.
11. Enthusiastically stand and applaud when military equipment and soldiers march by during a parade.
12. Try not to think about the consequences of your choices or actions, especially decisions or behavior that might have a harmful effect on others. In other words, don't be too concerned about other people. You heard the saying "God helps those who help themselves." (Don't look for it in the Bible because it isn't there). Make that a philosophy to live by. Let others help themselves. If you ignore the needs of others locally; the homeless, poor, hungry, or terminally ill, you will find it easier to be unconcerned about victims of war in other countries.
13. Use the same language government, the military, and much of the public uses. For example refer to military jobs and assignments with terms borrowed from the church, like "mission" and "service," instead of more accurate terms like "military violence," and "terrorism."
14. Avoid talking with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the current war and its implications. To illustrate, if you start discussing the effects of the current war on our country's economy, you will have to include in your complaints about record high gasoline prices, the acknowledgement that the cost of this war against Iraq, the cost of the previous war against Iraq, as well as the cost of the future war against Iran, are all also part of the cost of gasoline. If there were no oil resources in that region, these wars would have never been discussed and considered, let alone happened. It can get complicated so don't even bring up the subject.
15. Try to simplify your obedience to Biblical teachings. Tweak the Ten Commandments slightly to make it easier to follow them. The commandment which says, "Thou shalt not kill," really means, "Thou shalt not commit murder." This is true even though the killing done by a soldier in war is just as premeditated as that done by a serial killer, and in spite of the fact that both killing and murdering have exactly the same effect on the victim. Forget that other commandments also address warfare. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me, " forbids that idolatry that goes with doing anything a government asks you to do. Since killing is taking something that doesn't belong to you, a human life, "thou shalt not steal," also applies to war. Better avoid the Ten Commandments altogether. They could easily trip up your plans to help start a war.
16. Select your entertainment from TV, movies, or video games which use violence, symbols of violence, or brute strength to quickly solve problems, resolve conflicts, or achieve goals. The less dialogue, the better. Remember that biceps, bullets, and bombs are more important than brains when it comes to resolving conflict.
17. Interpret Bible passages about peacemaking as applying only to your personal peace with God, or to conflict between family and friends. Don't apply them to conflict between races, traditional enemies, or countries.
18. Don't contribute money or volunteer time to an anti-war organization.
19. Limit your friends to people of your own race, age, religion, sex, language, and culture. Learning to be friends with, understand, love, and care for people who are in some way, "different," might tempt you to question some your cherished opinions and prejudices.
20. Be sure to worship in and support churches who wholeheartedly applaud each one of the home country's war efforts.
21. Join in enthusiastically when the "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung or played at school or sports events. Try not to notice that the anthem glorifies violence and that the words mention "bombs bursting in air," without ever addressing or acknowledging the suffering of the victims of those bombs.
22. Don't read any literature about peacemaking. Especially avoid books that looks at non-military actions that changed the course of history like The Missing Peace by Juhnke and Hunter; and books that focus on peaceful ways of resolving conflict like The Politics of Non-Violent Action by Sharp. Also avoid reading or listening to fiction and poetry. Both can be powerful anti-war literature.
23. Ignore reports of torture, abuse, vandalizing, and other acts by US soldiers in warfare, acts which would be criminal offenses if committed in this country. This includes rape and sexual violence by male US soldiers against their female comrades. When the military trains a soldier to dehumanize enemies enough to justify killing them, they've gone beyond the point of justifying any other kind of abuse or mistreatment. Some collateral damage like this has to be expected if we want to have a military ready to kill at a seconds notice. After all, warfare is "the sum of all evils wrapped up in one," and some discrimination is necessary to adequately train a soldier to kill. It's to be expected that at times our killing people and machines will victimize the innocent, or cost us some "friendly fire" casualties.
24. To be a war maker you must be a family destroyer. If you want to help start a war you have to forget that the US military is probably the most destructive force to family life on planet Earth. Military families have higher divorce rates, domestic violence rates, and child abuse rates than non-military families. When soldiers are sent to another country to fight in a war, not only are the families they leave behind harmed, the people they kill in war are also family members, and their families are destroyed or severely damaged by the killing soldiers do in warfare. Millions of families are harmed by the destruction that takes place during war. If not killed or injured many become homeless refugees, unemployed, malnourished, and poverty-stricken, and may stay that way for years or decades after the war is over. War destroys families, as well as neighborhoods, communities, and productive economies. So to be a soldier you must be willing to destroy families; your own family, as well as the families of strangers.
24. Especially for US citizens, let's remember that in spite of 9/11, war is still usually something that we do to other countries and people, not something they have a right to do to us.
25. Learn to follow orders without questioning the reason for the order and without thinking about the consequences of your actions. Blind obedience is the rule of thumb to live by if you want to help start a war. Whatever you do, don't think for yourself. Let the military, the government, or the leaders, speakers, pundits, and "shock jocks" of your favorite political party do your thinking for you.
26. Learn to discriminate. If you're not already one, become a racist, sexist, or discriminate on some other basis like religion or politics. All wars thrive on as well as promote some kind of discrimination. You might want to consider joining the millions of US citizens who seem to have taken much of the discrimination they had against African-Americans a few decades ago, and now direct it toward immigrants, especially illegal aliens. If you believe that all people are as valuable and precious as you are, and deserve the same rights that you deserve, then how can you justify killing them?
27. Dehumanize the enemy by resorting to name-calling. Every soldier has a derogatory name for his enemy. We've heard many of them before. Gook, raghead, and kraut are a few examples. In order to be able to kill another human, most soldiers must first engage in dehumanizing the enemy. This is done to deny the enemy of his humanity, thereby making it easier to kill him. Other names that dehumanize are rebels, warlords, commies, and insurgents. In using those we conveniently forget that to some people these individuals are probably heroes. Still other dehumanizing labels include terrorist, alien, and extremist. One person's terrorist is another's "freedom fighter." One person's pirate is another's coast guard. Even labels heard in political dialogue such as liberal, conservative, wing-nut, left-winger, right-winger, radical and others are often used with a poisonous tongue or pen and thereby help us forget that all people are created in the image of God, and are equally precious.
28. Certainly in order to justify starting a war, you have to overlook one of the biggest price tags attached to any military action and that is the cost paid by the soldiers who participate in war. The physical and psychological needs of veterans must be minimized in order for any country to freely start a war. We've seen that happening in the US as the Bush Administration has tried to cut benefits for veterans at the same time as the number of veterans are increasing and a larger percentage of veterans are coming home from war with serious physical and psychological injuries. Those who are acquainted with the sufferings and struggles of veterans, many who are homeless and unemployable, cannot in good conscience justify a war to simply steal resources from another country. If you want to help start a war you must ignore the veterans from previous wars, and reject the belief that veterans deserve the maximum amount of care for any and all physical, psychological, and needs they may have, even if it cannot be proven that their needs are military related.
and a few more, mostly shorter, ones;
29. Believe the promises of the military recruiter.
30. Practice playing God
31. Discard any religious loyalty or commitment you may possess.
32. Censor your Bible reading. Avoid the words of Jesus, especially
the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule.
33. Learn to excuse your actions by saying, "I was only following orders,"
or "I was only doing my job."
34. Live only for yourself and your family. Get more "things."
35. Isolate yourself from the daily news.
36. Ignore the artistic and cultural life of your community.
37. Discourage creative endeavors in children and youth.
38. Watch more TV.
39. Don't learn a foreign language, or become knowledgeable about another culture.
40. Support efforts of government and the military to censor the news media. Get your
war news from embedded reporters.
41. Ignore the environmental consequences of war. In the Bible soldiers were forbidden
to destroy fruit trees in war. What would happen to our war efforts if our soldiers had to protect the environment?
42. Vote only for candidates who promise to do the most for you. Don't support candidates
who appear to be concerned about the poor, homeless, unemployed, etc.
43. Vote only for candidates who support military solutions to our differences with other
countries. If you support candidates who are strong advocates of diplomacy, it's possible
that the hundreds of billions of dollars now going for the military would then be spent on
health care, education, environmental protection, the economy, etc. in other words used to
help people rather than destroy them. What kind of country and world would we then be
44. Learn to love and live the lie. Truth is the first casualty of any war.
(A condensed version of this list was published in leaflet form)