War and the P-Word

In a nation at war, peace is suddenly a dirty word.

This is what I was told in an urgent phone call from someone in publishing who insisted that I drop my role in a project called "Pass it

on for Peace." The project entails the creation of a traveling, growing library of stories written by students in grades five through eight.

Topics for the stories cover the building blocks of peace like tolerance, kindness, not giving in to hate, fear or anger. The library will travel from school to school collecting original tales as it goes and ending in New York City next year.

"You do not want your name associated with peace right now," I was told.

"This will come back at you. People will think you are anti-war. Nobody wants peace now it's un-patriotic, un-American. We have to win this war and to do that we can't be using the P-word."

The last time I heard someone fretting over the P-word was the Lorena Bobbit trial so this new usage came as something of a shock.

I asked the caller if it was just possible that this was one person's reaction. "No," the caller insisted from the other end of the line in America's Heartland. "This is the whole mid-west. This is America and peace right now in un-patriotic as spitting on the flag."

Wow. Flag spitting is bad, so I decided to call some other associates in

marketing, publishing and related fields that cover public opinion. The reaction was nearly uniform. Each person called was someone who had thought the project a good one until I asked about this new take on peace.

"Peace? I'd better check with marketing," was one response. "Let me get back to you."

Another, after a long pause, said, "That's an angle worth worrying about. Peace is pretty tricky. Let me crunch on this and call you back."

As I wait breathlessly by the phone for them all to "check" and "crunch"

I have come to my own conclusions. Actually that is a bit misleading since I had never left my conclusions in the first place.

Peace is a good thing. Peace is something we want. It is something we should be teaching our children to consider and to strive to achieve in their time.

To love and long for peace is not an attack on our nation's military.

Peace is not something we need a committee to judge as good or bad. Peace is not a state of being that should ever be considered unpopular or politically incorrect.

A friend who is a lay minister at a Roman Catholic church near me was followed out of church last Sunday and berated by parishioners for saying, "Let us pray for the innocent women and children of Afghanistan who are suffering." She was also told that she was un-American and cautioned not to request that sort of prayer from the pulpit "...until seven thousand Afghans are dead!"

It is true that on September 11th the world turned upside down, still, peace is the same no matter how you look at it.

However, the day the word peace inspires rage, disgust and derision in us is the day we must reevaluate what we are battling for and if the other side hasn't already won the war.

By Lisa Suhay suhays@home.com Lisa Suhay is the author of "Tell Me Another Story" and other children's books. She writes from New Jersey. Visit my website http://fableauthor.tripod.com/

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