Saturday, April 21, 2007

Peace Scholarship

A former student of mine, a soon-to-be-graduate who will attend a university in Europe, has applied for a "Peace Scholarship" from a local church organization. She listed me as a reference contact.

Think about that for a minute. She asked me, someone who spent the first several years of his adult life preparing for war, someone who still supports our current war against Islamofascists, to be a reference for a peace scholarship.

There's a compliment in there, and I'm grateful to receive it.

This morning I spoke to a member of the committee who will be deciding to whom to award the scholarship. I pointed out at least twice that I'm former military, and that I don't support the "peace at any cost" belief structure, but that I view this student as one who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Even though I don't agree with her, I respect her beliefs and the logic (not emotionalism) that helps structure them. As I wrote in a letter of recommendation for her, she's destined to become an arbiter or an ambassador. I could gush on and on about her, but that isn't the point of this post.

It's obvious that I have a significant amount of respect for this young woman, but that her views are almost the opposite of mine. Why, then, would I want to promote and help her earn a scholarship the foundations of which I don't accept? When I hear the peace advocates cry out, I see in my mind's eye an image of Neville Chamberlain, holding in his hand "a piece of paper signed by Herr Hitler himself", promising peace in our time--just before the most violent conflagration in human history. When my own belief is that the best way to obtain peace is to be strong enough and prepared enough that no one will attack you, why would I support such a naively idealistic scholarship? Why, when history is on my side, would I give such effusive praise for a student who is wrong?

Because some day, she might be right--and a war could be averted.

8 comments:

2nd Lieutenant (select) said...

I'm not suprised she would choose someone that spent time in the military because as you know, we are the last people who want a war to happen. The only difference between those in the Armed Forces and peace activists is that if all other options will not work, we are willing to go out and do the fighting, and dying for our country. No one values peace more than those who are the first to die in war.

Pomoprophet said...

:) Thats what good teachers do.

Darren said...

Didn't some famous guy once say, "This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Don't quite remember who said that--same was something like MacArthur... =)

Law and Order Teacher said...

Darren,
What you have done is prove that conservatives are the truly open-minded thinkers. We are willing to hear both sides and we want to engage informed debate. I have had several students who held views directly opposite of me. One female student wore a T-shirt that had a picture of George Bush on it and the words "American Terrorist." The principal wanted to make her take it off. I told her that we did not want to stifle students from voicing informed opinions. And this student's opinion were well thought out and deeply held. We continue to differ and we continue to respect each other's opinions. At least she doesn't think all conservatives are war-mongers anymore. After all, those of us who have served and fought don't want any others to have to do it if possible. Right now, that's not possible. I, too hope your student is right someday.

Mike said...

You have proven that it is not only possible, but admirable to be able to separate individual virtue from political philosophy. In teaching speech, I've often found myself showing people whose ideologies are not only unsupported by history, but may well be dangerous to them or society, to present those ideologies more effectively. I can only hope that experience may one day help them see more clearly.

This ability to care for and behave properly toward those with whom we disagree policially and philosophically is not native to any political belief system, but I've seen it far more frequently in conversatives than liberals, particularly of late.

Keep up the good work!

carol said...

One reason I quit Rotary was because of all their sanctimony about Peace Parks etc..apparently at the one on the US-Canadian border, members pledged to never go to war against each other--how can they do that? How can any of these service clubs go on about peace, when we are at war?

And yes, I believe in peace through strength.

Matthew K. Tabor said...

Well done - the words that come to mind are "admirable" and "sensible," but the one that matters is "important."

Michael said...

Well done. I did the same for a student who wanted an internship with the Republican National Committee. I disagree with her on a nearly cellular level, but recommendations like this are what teachers are supposed to do. (She got the position, btw.)