December 15, 2005

peace is the way

Pope Benedict XVI - or the Vatican at the very least - is continuing the tradition started by Paul VI of celebrating a World Day of Peace on January 1. You can read the Pope's message for the 39th World Peace Day here. Glad to see peace is staying on the Vatican radar, especially these days. It's a pretty good message too.

Aside from some quite beautiful words about our human family and peace not being merely the absence of war, the message touches on some substantive issues that should be of concern to us all. One big one is the cost of war and military spending:

"In this regard, one can only note with dismay the evidence of a
continuing growth in military expenditures and the flourishing ams trade … How can there ever be a future of peace when investments are still made in the production of arms and in research aimed at developing new ones? It can only be hoped that the international community will find the wisdom and courage to take up once more … the process of disarmament, and thus concretely ensure the right to peace enjoyed by every individual and every people."
-Pope Benedict XVI, 2006 World Peace Day Message

I did some research at the Center of Concern Education for Justice website. Just what is the price tag on military expenditures these days? How about a whopping $1 trillion, 34 billion dollars toward military expenditures world wide in 2004. US military spending totaled $455.3 billion dollars, or 47% of the global total.

Shocking? Wait till you see some examples of what else this money could do:

  • Universal access to water AND universal primary education AND reducing infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015 would ALL be possible with just a 7.5% reduction in world military expenditure.
  • Every girl and boy in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America could go to primary school with $11 billion – half the amount spent on arms purchases by countries in those regions.
  • For the estimated cost of war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan as of June 2005 ($230 billion), more than 3 years worth of basic food, HIV/AIDS medication, childhood immunization and clean water and sanitation could be provided for the world’s neediest.

No wonder Benedict says in his message: "The resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor."

Yup. Glad to find myself agreeing with the man in Rome.

Now let's see if we can do something about it.

Peace. It's good for us all.