The Peace Museum
Many countries have War Museums, but war does not stay in museums.
Peace Museums could glorify Peace.
How? Displays of civilisations, and Before and After Displays of Lost Treasures, built up over hundreds of years and destroyed in brutal minutes. A child, nine months in the making and the short time of its little life, and the minute that destroys it. Smiling countrysides and beautiful cities – and the desolate wastelands made of them The suffering of survivors. War is harder on the living than the dead. The other creatures that die when men fight.
What it is like in countries that do not know war. That do not pay for armies, and military research. The many causes of war – and how they could be removed.
See the delights of constructing, and creating. Little toddlers love to smash towers that others set up – when they grow rightly, the greater pleasure can be to build towers ever more wonderful, but stopping before the pride that brought down Babel. Nine-year-old boys love to scuffle, and join a mischievous gang, and revel in tales of blood – but as they becomes men, they can put away these sorts of childish things.
The Peace Museum would show how human energy can turn away from aggression, and if there is a Freudian Death instinct how even this might be turned to prevent killing and grief.
The stories and histories which live to warn us. Gulliver’s little people, who fought over which end of an egg to cut first An honour roll of real life Peace-makers, who made ‘Peace with Prosperity’ and not just a staving-off, and not those who ‘made a desert, and they call it peace,’ as Tacitus said of his Romans. Stories from this honor roll would be studied in schools – but not killed by exams.
The Black Lists of arms manufacturers and traders and similar war criminals, kept up to date. Inventories of what poor countries pay for the arms that destroy them, and how they paid for them.
Music is playing in the Museum forecourts – “Where have all the flowers gone?“, and the music that Beethoven composed as he was deafened by the siege of Vienna, and the laments that have arisen at so many times, in so many languages.
Peace blockbuilder films and documentaries go all over the world to arouse appetites for Peace, with ‘Irene’ awards more beautiful than Oscars.
Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad. The people of Athens knew this saying. Their story too, would be in the Peace Museum, in hopes that we can stop our own madnesses.
One of the most mad of our ideas is that we would find peace and goodness boring. Real peace and real goodness are not neutral and boring – they are at the opposite extreme to war and evil, and far more satisfying.
Write a Script for a Peace Block-builder Film
A Fijian full of dignity said on television that civil war in Fiji was possible; he said, it was probable, and his face was impassive. He did not scream and howl, that those fair islands could be swept unnecessarily with ruin and suffering, and with modern weapons, might be made deserts.
When I was small, the Preacher would say, “I have set before you life and death, light and darkness; therefore choose life.” The answer seemed obvious to a little child – everyone would choose life. Then when I was eight, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and I was shocked to find that in real life, not just in adventure stories, people would deliberately choose darkness.
The choice of darkness has spread so far. When as an adult I worked (played) with children, we had a set of little toytown buildings, which in recent years included a blackened ruin. Young children often chose the ruin first for their play, saying it was ‘more interesting’. A salesman of these toytowns told me that they included the ruins because they were so popular. Young teenagers will choose smoking or drugs or self-mutilation, taking the risks willingly. And what is there that adults will not do, to destroy the world around them.
The Holocaust Museums around the world could contain many mansions, for Jews, gipsies, Armenians, American Indians, Cathars, Caribs, thousands of extinct peoples, and now every day more rooms are added as more innocents are slaughtered on the grounds of ethnicity for the sake of the space they take up. It is as if Death, hand in hand with injustice and crowding beyond resources, has sown dragon’s teeth broadcast over the world.
Many many countries have War Museums, but war does not stay in museums.
The Peace Museums that could be built would glorify Peace, and show how fair and fragile she is, and how much more beautiful and interesting than black destruction and red explosions and the ruins that they leave, silent except for vermin.
The Peace Museums would not be like the War Museums that show the business of war. Instead, there would be displays of civilisations, Before and After. There is a book Lost Treasures of Europe. There would be displays about so many lost treasures over the millennia, destroyed for a brief brutal delight. We would see a cathedral as it was hundreds of years in the building, and the ten minutes that smashed it, and the loss afterwards. We would see a child, as it is nine amazing months in the making and the short time of its little life, and the minute that destroys it, and the grieving after it. We would see smiling countrysides and beautiful cities and the desolate wastelands that have been made of them – and the remorse after, if any are left to feel remorse. We would see the other creatures that also die as we fight each other. We would see how people suffered who survived. War is harder on the living than the dead.
We would see what it is like in countries that do not know war. And how their disputes are resolved and how much peace depends upon justice. What happens in countries that do not have to pay for standing armies, and what could happen if other countries could be saved from realistic fears that make military defence appear essential. The Peace Museum would include examinations of the causes of war – and how they could have been and still could be removed.
We would see the delights of construction, and slow creation – and how children learn this delight. It is the little toddlers’ pleasure first to smash he towers that others set up – but as they grow, in the normal way of things, the greater pleasure is in building towers ever more wonderful, short of the hubris that brought down Babel. It is the nine-year-old boy’s delight to scuffle, and join a mischievous gang, and revel in tales of blood – but as he becomes a man, he can put away these childish things. The Peace Museum would show how human energy can turn to other things than aggression, and if there is, as Freud came to think, a Death instinct, an urge of Thanatos, how even this might be turned to prevent killing.
There would be the stories and histories which live to warn us. The little people that Gulliver met, who fought over which end of an egg to cut first – and how Gulliver could see how to stop that war. An honour roll of real life Peace-makers, who made ‘Peace with Prosperity’ and not just a staving-off, and not those who ‘made a desert, and they call it peace,’ as Tacitus said of his Romans. And the stories from this honor roll would be studied in schools, but not killed by exams.
There would be the Black Lists of arms manufacturers and traders and similar war criminals, kept up to date. Inventories of what poor countries paid for the armaments that destroyed them, and how they paid for them.
There would be Peace blockbuilder films and documentaries, that would go all over the world to raise imagination about what can be done in place of strife, and to arouse appetites for Peace. The ‘Irene’ awards would be more beautiful than Oscars.
There are 250 bible passages about peace. How many, even among fundamentalists, know more than about a dozen?
In a Scots warning about the Last Judgement, the sinners cry, “Lord, Lord, we didna ken! We did not know!” And the Lord replies, “Ye ken the noo.” This too would be written up over the gate, together with, “All hope take with you, you who leave this place.” The Peace Museum would be a chance to take up hope and resolution.
Imagination is the ability to consider what may be possible, in the real world, not only in fantasy. On the TV screen, ruin, destruction and suffering are entertainment for voyeurs. Through the living eye of imagination, we try to feel what these really would be like for our own selves, and imagining further, imagine peace and pursue it.