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Peace Essay, Research Paper
After a millennium of conflict and war?what chance of a millennium of peace? Some ten millennia ago civilization emerged in the Middle East, as the people of that area learned to till the earth and grow crops, thus opening the way to the ownership of land and the accumulation of wealth, and also to population growth and urban settlement. This new way of life created the potential for conflicts between towns and states and, later, between empires. This civilization brought warfare in its train.
While these new state structures was evolving, Christianity was becoming a predominantly European religion. And the power of that religion?s moral teaching, however much distorted by human failings of clergy and rulers, inspired an extraordinary European flowering of culture in architecture and art, and later created the conditions for key developments in technology, philosophy, and science. Thus, by the last quarter of the second millennium, although Christian belief was by then waning, European civilization had become the dominant force in a world that was well on its way to becoming a ?global village?.
But all this had come at a price. The competitive vitality of this emerging civilization, harnessed by the ambitions of its kings, had created near-perpetual conflict between the emerging states of the Continent?conflicts which in later centuries spread to the colonial empires of some of Europe?s major powers. Moreover, in later centuries, technological advances accelerated the lethal effects of these conflicts?to the point where in the closing century of the millennium the very existence of the human race came under threat from this weaponry.
Early in the 20th century the growth of ethnic nationalism had led to the collapse of multi-ethnic states. This further increased the number of potential conflicts in our existing civilizations?especially where, as in Eastern Europe, past movements of peoples had left behind a palimpsest of ethnic minorities that simply could not be accommodated comfortably within any conceivable set of geographical boundaries. Ethnic conflicts broke out in many other parts of the world as the overseas empires of European states disintegrated.
Thus, towards the end of the millennium, both the technology of war and the number of actual and potential conflicts were increasing rapidly. In our technologically advanced world, potentially disastrous conflicts could be avoided only through the creation of a new international order.
Could the largely successful European experience of replacing conflict between states with an international rule of law spread eventually to other parts of the world? Not, perhaps, in the short run. But I would be optimistic that over the century ahead peace and order under just such an international rule of law may also take hold gradually in other continents. For global public opinion, alerted and informed by the electronic as well as the printed media, has become increasingly hostile to the brutality of inter-ethnic and inter-state violence and to continuing gross breaches of human rights.
As we enter the third millennium, this should, I believe, become the key objective of public policy worldwide.
I believe it is the dove of peace, which, taking its aerial flight from the dome of the capitol, carries the glad tidings of assured peace and restored harmony to all the remotest extremities of this distracted land. I believe that it will be attended with all these beneficent effects. And now let us discard all resentment, all passions, all petty jealousies, all personal desires, all love of place, all hankerings after the gilded crumbs which fall from the table of power. Let us forget popular fears, from whatever quarter they may spring. Let us go to the limpid fountain of unadulterated patriotism, and, performing a solemn lustration, return divested of all selfish, sinister, and sordid impurities, and think alone of our God, our country, our consciences, and our glorious Union?that Union without which we shall be torn into hostile fragments, and sooner or later become the victims of military despotism or foreign domination.
We are here not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid. Splendid and holy causes are served by men who are themselves splendid and holy. Peace is splendid in the proud manhood of him, splendid in the heroic grace of him, splendid in the strength and clarity and truth of him. And all that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to the world, to all that was olden and beautiful and courageous in times like these, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of us or of an individual. The clear true eyes of peace almost alone in this day visioned world as we of today would surely have it: not free merely, but courageous as well; not courageous merely, but free as well.
I propose to you then that, here by the grave of this unrepentant Fenian, we renew our baptismal vows; that, here by the grave of this unconquered and unconquerable man, we ask of God, each one for himself, such unshakeable purpose, such high and gallant courage, such unbreakable strength of soul.
This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and with all restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing, as we all held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified us. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools!?they have left us our death, and while we holds these graves, we are unfree shall never be at peace.
What is an individual man? An atom, almost invisible without a magnifying glass?a mere speck upon the surface of the immense universe; not a second in time, compared to immeasurable, never-beginning, and never-ending eternity; a drop of water in the great deep, which evaporates and is borne off by the winds; a grain of sand, which is soon gathered to the dust from which it sprung. Shall a being so small, so petty, so fleeting, so evanescent, oppose itself to the onward march of a great nation which is to subsist for ages and ages to come; oppose itself to that long line of posterity which, issuing from our loins, will endure during the existence of the world? Forbid it, God. Let us look to our country and our cause, elevate ourselves to the dignity of pure and disinterested patriots, and save our country from all impending dangers. What if, in the march of this nation to greatness and power, we should be buried beneath the wheels that propel it onward! What are we?what is any man?worth who is not ready and willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of his country when it is necessary?
But, if defeated, it will be a triumph of ultraism and impracticability?a triumph of a most extraordinary conjunction of extremes; a victory won by abolitionism; a victory achieved by free soilism; a victory of discord and agitation over peace and tranquility; and I pray to Almighty God that it may not, in consequence of the inauspicious result, lead to the most unhappy and disastrous consequences to our beloved country.
It is for them to honor principles rather than men?to commemorate events rather than days; when they rejoice, to know for what they rejoice, and to rejoice only for what has brought and what brings peace and happiness to men and shall procure in the onward course of human improvement more than we can now conceive of. For this?for the good obtained and yet in store for our race?let us rejoice! But let us rejoice as men, not as children?as human beings rather than as Americans?as reasoning beings, not as ignorants.
Imagine, if you can, his indignant eloquence had England offered to put a gag upon his lips. The question that stirred the Revolution touched our civil interests. This concerns us not only as citizens, but as immortal beings. Wrapped up in its fate, saved or lost with it, are not only the voice of the statesman, but the instructions of the pulpit and the progress of our faith.
At length he took counsel with friends, men of character, of tried integrity, of wide views, of Christian principle. They thought the crisis had come; it was full time to assert the laws. They saw around them, not a community like our own, of fixed habits, of character moulded and settled, but one ‘in the gristle, not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.? The people there, children of our older states, seem to have forgotten the blood-tried principles of their fathers the moment they lost sight of our history. Something was to be done to show them the priceless value of peace, to bring back and set right their wandering and confused ideas. He and his advisers looked out on a community, staggering like a drunken man, indifferent to their rights and confused in their feelings. Deaf to argument, haply they might be stunned into sobriety. They saw that of which we cannot judge, the necessity of resistance. Insulted law called for it. Public opinion, fast hastening on the downward course, must be arrested.
It is a work of mutual concession?an agreement in which there are reciprocal stipulations?a work in which, for the sake of peace and concord, one party abates his extreme demands in consideration of an abatement of extreme demands by the other party: it is a measure of mutual concession?a measure of mutual sacrifice.
You and others who are associated with us in today’s task and duty, are bound together and must stand together henceforth in brotherly union for the achievement of the peace.
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