Here a war, there a war, everywhere a war

Opinion piece by Mark Turner


The  U,S. and Russia are conducting military strikes in Syria. The US and Russia may have strategic interests in bombing the crap out of their least favorite parts of Syria.  The scary thing is, the US and Russia are  waging very separate wars in this region.  What could possibly go wrong here?

Other U.S. war theaters include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan.  Except for when we bomb a hospital, we never seem to talk about these wars, or even what our success would look like in these places.  We simply accept the death toll as a cost of our freedom?

Last week, the president announced that US forces shall remain in Afghanistan after he leaves office. Does it bother anybody else, that a generation enters high school never knowing a time when their country was not at war?  Shall our children never know peace?


International War Day

Opinion piece by Mark Turner

September 21 has been designated as International Peace Day.  Some folks call it World Peace Day.


It makes me think about the ‘Sad Hour’ beer advertisement that asks viewers to contemplate happy hours.  Why not 23 happy hours and 1 sad hour?


So here is my crazy idea:  instead of endless war with 1 Peace Day, how about 364 Peace Days and only 1 War Day?

“…one life, don’t blow it…”

What do you think?  Are we blowing it?








War on violence

Opinion piece by Mark Turner



It was a community college public speaking course. The instructor had us perform an exercise on persuasion, in preparation for our assigned speech to persuade. Our instructor selected 10 students, and split them into pairs. He gave 5 of them a $20 bill. For the exercise, he instructed those with the $20 to keep it. He instructed the cashless to persuade their partner to give up the $20 bill. Various techniques were employed, from negotiation to coercion. Some techniques worked, and some were unsuccessful. Early in the exercise, one student grabbed the wrist of a hand holding a $20 and demanded release. After a brief resistant protest, the student released the cash, but slapped the aggressors hand.

The exercise taught me an important lesson about how effective violence can be in getting what we want. It showed me how quickly some will resort to using violence, without even attempting negotiation. It also showed me how some folks immediately respond to violence with violence. When this happens in the classroom, it is uncomfortable. When in happens in the streets, or other battlefields, it is mostly tragic.

The Charleston Grace AME congregation did not choose to respond with hate or violence when their church was shot up. Instead, they stunned the world when they responded to the bloody massacre with words of love, forgiveness, and grace.

Why was this response so stunning? It was stunning because it is so uncommon.

If humans are meant to survive, we must evolve. We must learn that violence, while effective, is not the solution to any of our problems. I think that humans must evolve away from violence, and take a more thoughtful approach. What do you think?