It is an evident fact that different organizations in the world strive for peace, but the leaders of various countries and their citizens’ do not rise up and march towards a peaceful society.
Following raids in Dai Lai village in the rural Thai Binh province (southeast of Hanoi) in October 1967, French journalist Gerard Chaliand witnessed men and women weeping as they swept debris from the floors of destroyed homes and recounted how their neighbors had been burned alive by the fires. Bui Van Nguu, age forty-six, told Chaliand that he had been outdoors making brooms for the cooperative when a bomb exploded in his kitchen, burying his three children. The only thing left of them was mangled limbs, shreds of flesh, and the ear of his eldest daughter which was found in a garden seven yards away. Rescue teams in the village dug out many other children who had been buried alive, burned to shreds, or asphyxiated in the bombing massacre that was one of many in the war. A woman who had lost her parents and six siblings in the bombing of Phy Le told visiting peace activist David Dellinger to “ask your president Johnson if our straw huts were made of steel and concrete” (as LBJ claimed) and to ask him if “our Catholic church that was destroyed was a military target….Tell him that we will continue our life and struggle no matter what future bombings there will be because we know that without independence and freedom, nothing is worthwhile.”
Peace liberals in SANE can certainly be criticized by what at times seemed an obsessive concern with respectability and for excluding specific groups from coalition activity, both of which contributed to the fracture in the antiwar movement. And although they continued for so long calling for negotiations to end the war, feeling it was politically expedience and a face-saving device for the United States, they should have realized America really had no moral right to negotiate anything except, perhaps, as David McReynolds [of WRL] said in an exchange with Michael Harrington, “the routes our troops will take getting to the ports of embarkation.”
The liberal wing of the antiwar movement, represented by groups such as SANE, WSP, Student Peace Union, and Americans for Democratic Action, supported détente, diplomacy, and demilitarization of the Cold War, paying particular attention to the nuclear arms race. Liberal peace groups worked to build a broad-based movement, gain positive media attention, and influence members of Congress – all essential elements of movement-building. At the same time, they tended to narrow their vision and political goals to what was feasible within the American context, which fell short of what was needed to achieve peace in the international context. The unwillingness of liberal peace groups to support U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam not only divided the antiwar movement but also constituted a missed opportunity to combine domestic peace efforts with international diplomatic efforts led by UN Secretary-General U Thant, which were based on the Geneva formula. According to the historian Milton Katz:
The first campus teach-in on Vietnam took place at the University of Michigan on March 24-25, 1965, the same month that U.S. troops landed in Danang. Over 3,000 people showed up on the Ann Arbor campus for lectures and discussions that ran through the night. The purpose, as one flyer put it, was to focus attention “on this war, its consequences, and ways to stop it.” The educational venue quickly spread to other campuses. Within one week, thirty-five more had been held; and by the end of the year, 120 had taken place. Some were organized locally, others by the Universities Committee on Problems of War and Peace, a three-year old group based at Wayne State University. For Doug Dowd, a Cornell University professor, lifelong leftist, and activist organizer, the teach-ins were an exhilarating experience. He had gone through the Red Scare period when “you couldn’t get anybody to say anything about the Korean War…. Everybody was scared.” The teach-ins aimed to both educate people on the issues and inspire greater confidence in questioning political authorities and foreign policy experts.
Most of us grew up thinking that the United States was a strong but humble nation, that involved itself in world affairs only reluctantly, that respected the integrity of other nations and other systems, and that engaged in wars only as a last resort…. But in recent years … the development of a more aggressive, activist foreign policy have done much to force many of us to rethink attitudes that were deep and basic sentiments about our country. The incredible war in Vietnam has provided the razor, the terrifying sharp cutting edge that has finally severed the last vestige of illusion that morality and democracy are the guiding principles of American foreign policy … The further we explore the reality of what this country is doing and planning in Vietnam the more we are driven toward the conclusion of Senator Morse that the United States may well be the greatest threat to peace in the world today. That is a terrible and bitter insight for people who grew up as we did – and our revulsion at that insight, our refusal to accept it as inevitable or necessary, is one of the reasons that so many people have come here today.
In the aftermath of the Versailles Conference, Ho turned to socialist writings for inspiration, and to socialist and communist parties for support. Living in Paris, he read Vladimir Lenin’s “Thesis on the National and Colonial Questions” and came to the conclusion that “only Socialism and Communism can liberate the oppressed nations.” In 1920, Ho became a founding member of the French Communist Party. In the summer of that year, the Second Congress of the Communist International met in Petrograd and Moscow, and declared its support for anti-colonial revolutions, offering revolutionaries space for headquarters and limited funding. In 1930, Ho became a founding member of the Indochinese Communist Party.
By the mid-19th century, France was ready to build an empire in Southeast Asia. With superior weapons, French forces attacked the port city of Danang in 1858, seized Saigon the following year, and secured control over the whole of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia by 1884. They divided Vietnam into three parts (Cochin China, Annam, Tonkin) and renamed their colonial acquisitions French Indochina. The French exploited Vietnam for rice and rubber, formed an alliance with the Vietnamese royalty to rule more effectively, and suppressed resistance movements. Amid the foreign takeover, Vietnamese life remained rooted in the extended family, village life, reverence for the land, and Confucian and Buddhist beliefs and practices, in the main. The population grew from about 10 million in 1884 to 24 million in 1945, when the Vietnamese began their thirty-year struggle for national independence.
Seven-year old Tarak McLain was born in Thailand and lives with his family in Austin, Texas. He collects and hands out food to the homeless, raises money for orphans and impoverished schools, reads about the world`s religions and listens to public radio.
In the world that has been given, it is sought out to find meaning and to come across peace. Efforts and actions have to take place in the situations in order to attain such harmony. Individuals must work with humanity, the person they are and want to be in order to achieve peace. Then peace has taken over.
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum. We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals. We watched the U.S. falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts…. Each day … someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, “the first President to lose a war.” We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Once a person finds compassion and concern for matters on the greater scale, he/she can begin to work to find peace in simpler things around them. There is escapism from reality where peaceful dreams would come. A lake, which is seemingly just a big hole filled with water, could be a serene pool of mystery and bliss, becoming a symbol of peace. As an exchange of words, “ Peace be with you”, it would seem true that the individual does need peace to be with him or herself first. This can help form the person that they become.