There is no shortage of those who speak and act as though war is inevitable. People training for war, people making weapons of war, people in government budgeting huge sums of money for war, people planning to extend current wars, people planning new wars, and people remaining silent and indifferent while all this war-making and war preparation continues unabated, are people who believe that war is inevitable, and that peacemaking is impractical.
In the face of all this warmongering, a surprising voice was raised to challenge this hellish notion that war is inevitable and that peacemaking is impractical.
On June 10, 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered the commencement address at American University in Washington, D.C. His message to the graduating class, and to the world, titled “A Strategy of Peace,” surprisingly reflected very little of the warrior, but instead rang out with confident, courageous hope that a better world, a far more peaceful world was not simply impractical fantasy for dreamers, but with practical, doable steps, was indeed achievable in the here and now.
Perhaps it was the nail-biting closeness the Soviet Union and the United States had come to total nuclear war just months earlier, or maybe it was the saintly “Good Pope John” XXIII’s letter to him pleading that he back away from the precipice of nuclear global destruction, or possibly it was a deep reflection on his own serious battle scars from World War II that led the president of the most militarily powerful nation on earth to extend an olive branch to the receptive Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the other most militarily powerful nation on earth.
In his “A Strategy of Peace” address, Kennedy said, “What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. … I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”
Continuing with his inspiring rhythm for peace, Kennedy added, “Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable.” One could say that Kennedy, in his “A Strategy of Peace” address was ahead of his time. But no, it would be better said that “A Strategy of Peace” was right on time!