Greenfield, Mass. (Special to Informed Comment) – A sign hung in a Greenfield, Massachusetts storefront window: “Negotiate for Peace in Ukraine” – the most direct of the many “Peace,” “and singular “Make Tea Not War;” “Food For All, Not War; “Books Not War;” “Brew Beer Not War;” “Solar Not War;” “Shoes Not War;” “Art Not War” signs in our Greenfield Shops for Peace project. “Negotiate for Peace in Ukraine” – a concrete application of the other signs – was too charged and controversial for some customers, so it no longer is there.
While deeply disappointed, I was not surprised. When I first held the same sign in our Saturday morning peace vigil on the Greenfield Common, a number of people passing by objected to ending the war until Russia could be defeated, specifically Putin. But, what does an “eye for an eye” strategy achieve other than making “the whole world blind,” as Gandhi observed. The ultimate weakness of violence, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wisely noted, is that “…you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.“
Nearly half of US citizens want their government to keep supplying weapons and military training to Ukraine to sustain the war, while the majority of the world’s people want negotiations to end the war. The global call for ending the conflict includes the rising powers of the Global South, among them China; a high-level mission of African countries; a “peace club” of countries being created by Brazil; Pope Francis and the Vatican; Denmark, offering to host a peace summit; the 1,400-city US Conference of Mayors and hundreds of US organizations and faith-based leaders. Why are so many countries, organizations and people across the world urging an end to this seemingly regional war, sustained by US and NATO weapons? In a nutshell, this war kills and gravely harms not only the combatants fighting but also millions of others. The global cost is catastrophic.