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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Let's make 'peace' a verb

There hasn't been a time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s when I felt more worried about a nuclear war. How about you? Perhaps it's because I have been reading too many Minnesota author Vince Flynn novels starring a CIA operative named Mitch Rapp. In Flynn's novel, "Memorial Day," terrorists plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on Washington and New York City. I won't tell you what happened.

I could be worried because the world has two grown children playing chicken with nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Recent Nobel Peace laureate Beatrice Fihn of Sweden had this to say about her organization's efforts to eliminate the world's 15,000 nuclear warheads (reported in Time magazine), "If we keep nuclear weapons around forever, they will be used." How terrible would that be?

The size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945 was 15 kilotons of TNT. One hundred percent of the people within a two-mile radius of the center of the city were killed. In total, it killed between 90,000 and 160,000 people. Today's nuclear bombs are 3,000 times more powerful.

It is estimated that 100 million people would die in the first half hour alone if there were a nuclear war between Russia and the U.S. These two countries own three-fourths of the world's nuclear arms. The United Nations has a $10 million annual budget devoted to disarmament. This is less than the amount spent on nuclear weapons every hour.

We can talk about making peace until the cows come home but talk is just talk. What if "peace" were a verb as well as a noun? What if when we mentioned "peace" we were also talking about taking some action? What if we all made a goal to do something in 2018 that made for a more peaceful world?

There are numerous peace seeking groups throughout the U.S. and the world. We have one in Bemidji called Peacemaker Resources. Their goal is to "foster communication, compassion and connection leading to respectful relationships and healthier individuals and communities." They are very active in area schools. There are hundreds of anti-war/peace organizations throughout the world whose goal is to prevent war.

Bemidji also has numerous organizations, which help people in need like Bemidji Community Food Shelf, the Boys and Girls Club and Support Within Reach. There are many more. All of these groups practice non-violent ways that result in helping people and not hurting people.

Regardless of where we are in the world toward world peace, we are a button push away from annihilating one another. Maybe if we accepted the word "peace" as a verb, world peace might come sooner. What if we all agreed to not just talk about peace but to do something?

Here are some things we can do that make "peace" a verb:

1. Learn what Peacemaker Resources is in your own community. Maybe your group can make use of their resources.

2. Speak out against violence and use of assault weapons.

3. Participate in non-violent protests when needed. When you think there is a need, start one.

4. Provide help to people in trouble. Work with the Bemidji food shelf or Ruby's Pantry to help people in need.

5. Write your legislators and congress people about why they need to place world peace first on the agenda.

6. Volunteer at the local animal shelter. Show children how to care for pets.

7. Pray for peace.

8. Teach children how to be kind to others.

9. Support political candidates who support peace proposals.

10. Do one thing every day that promotes peace.

11. Don't give silent approval to prejudice and discrimination. Do something.

12. Ask yourself, "How do I treat others?"

13. Empathize with victims of violence and war.

14. Remind young people to graduate from high school.

15. Wish everyone to have a peace filled new year and help make it happen.

Riddle: Why do shoemakers go to heaven? (Because they have good soles!) You will have a good soul too when you put "peace" into action.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.