Why This Site?

The idea for this project began with a small group of Mennonite Christians in Osler, Saskatchewan, in the heart of Canada. They noticed that Canada was becoming increasingly militarized. And yet, many people, including soldiers and war veterans, characterize their war experience with two words: "Never again."

So, they put legs and feet to a desire shared by many others in Mennonite Church in Canada – and indeed around the world – people who say that the church needs to more strongly promote an alternative message to the predominant human assumption that force resolves conflict. Instead, it seems that increasingly, military recruitment and military responses feed the vast, global cycle of war: in 2008, it is estimated that US $1,464 billion went to military spending, while support for United Nations peace-keeping operations was US $9 billion. In short, we’ve been asked to help the church and society at large nurture a new imagination for nonviolent peace building that is wanted and needed.

A recent ad campaign by the Canadian Armed Forces suggests that the only response to conflict and social upheaval is to fight. Their slogans read, “Fight Chaos, Fight Fear, Fight Disaster.” On the TV ads, soldiers with machine guns cocked break through a door in some conflict zone. A foreboding soundtrack emphasizes the tension. On their web site, the video interface visually suggests the viewer is the cockpit of a jet fighter.

Meanwhile, the US military entices young men and women with promises of a free education and suggests that enlistment can lead to a career as an astronaut. One US recruitment advert boasts that, “There is nothing stronger on this green earth than the US army.” A British recruitment ad injects fun parties and young women in bikinis into the mix of adventure and excitement. Chinese and Japanese ads feature lots of jet fighters, tanks, and bombs. An interesting Russian ad features a young soldier who with his military pay cheque can now afford to buy flowers for his love interest – and rounds of drinks for his friends at the bar. Most ads share in common the themes of aggression, power, and technological might.

To be fair, some of the ads also depict soldiers engaged in community service: search and rescue operations, the apprehension of drug smugglers, or the distribution of aid. We’re not critical of a civil service that helps communities build dikes in the face of a flood, rescues a stranded fisher, or reduces the amount of street drugs that make it into our communities.

But experienced soldiers and war survivors know what the ads don’t show. They have seen the destruction of communities, the lost limbs and lives. Some have asked themselves if these outcomes could have been different.

Finally, in today’s schools there are a multitude of anti-bullying and conflict resolution programs. Starting at a very young age, students are actively taught not to sort out problems by fighting, but with dialogue, understanding, and negotiation. Yet, military recruiters are allowed into schools. We can’t rationalize this dichotomy.

We have been challenged to send an alternative message, to ask anyone who cares to imagine another alternative. There is a quote from a study of world conflict on the home page of this site:

" . . . in the conflicts in the past 15 years, only 7.5% have ended with a military victory by one party over the other. The negotiation route, though long and difficult, is the one that prevails in 92% of the cases. The challenge is thus not being a skilful warrior but a skilful negotiator."  - 2008 Peace Process Yearbook, School for a Culture of Peace, Autonomous University of Barcelona. 

This evidence reveals truth: nonviolent peace building is not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight – but it works. Can the same can be said for war? Which one suffers a greater loss of life?

Additional Resources