According to the ancient Greeks, misfortune is rooted in ignorance. Regarding a specific type of ignorance and misfortune, Edmund Burke remarked, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana added, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Being condemned or being doomed due to historical ignorance forebodes horrific misfortune.
2020 AYWW is non-partisan, non-religious, not anti-military, not a peace movement nor is it pacifist. The 2020 AYWW Mission is to secure a one-year global truce from the United Nations for 2020. For 2020 AYWW to succeed, world leaders must wisely understand and embrace this moment in history and the significance of such a public, formal United Nations Global One Truce. To clearly understand the world in which we live and the history that we have inherited is essential to not repeating the mistakes of the past.
For those of us in the United States, we know that ignorance, culpable or not, led to ourdisastrous Iraqi War, as well as our Vietnam War. In the case of Iraq, US political leadersof both parties apparently believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was collaborating with Al-Qaeda. “We don’t want the smoking gun (weapons of mass destruction) to be a mushroom cloud,” warned Condeleezza Rice, National Security Advisor to President Bush. Sadly, however, the truth was that there were no weapons of mass destruction and no collaboration between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Our ignorance led to the misfortune of over 100,000 deaths and trillions of war dollars spent. And the U.S. is still in Iraq fighting.
President Trump, in an interview this past April, remarked: “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” The truth is,President Trump, people have been asking that question for many generations. There are settled answers and a few controversial theories. The concern, the sadness, the near despair, that 2020 AYWW wishes to address here regarding President Trump’s statements arises given President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address with its warning.
President Lincoln stated on November 19, 1863, nearly four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, which in its three days of fighting brought approximately 50,000 casualties,
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Whatever President Trump’s present policies on building walls, dismantling the EPA, healthcare, Russia, fake news, he seems to not remember, assuming that at one time hedid know, what President Lincoln warned us of so eloquently, so memorably that we “can never forget what they did here.” The U.S. civil war started 156 years ago andbrought approximately 600,000 deaths in its dark, bloody wake as you remember.
As our 2020 AYWW community works daily to secure our 2020 U.N Global Truce, we now worry that potentially horrific misfortune may be unfolding in that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But we also know that ignorance can be pushed back. Take two minutes to write to President Trump at the 2020 AYWW website Speak to Power page ayww.org/demand. Share this blog with him, if you wish.
Professor Joseph White,
Executive Director, 2020 A Year Without War