Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Peace through baseball

So I’ve written about how I am leaving for Beirut soon – Monday. Perhaps I should pull a Pete Rose and do some sports betting at Sports Interaction to help finance my trip. One of the projects I hope to raise money for is a peacebuilding exchange project that will bring high school baseball players from the US to Lebanon to teach Lebanese students how to play baseball. I would love to get kids from Lebanon, Ohio – Reds country, of course – to participate in the exchange program. After all, the Lebanons of the United States were founded by Lebanese, and what better way to grow the Cincinnati Reds brand throughout the world than to bring folks from Reds country across the ocean to teach it?

The world needs more East-West peacebuilding programs, because the biggest problem between the Orient and the Occident is misunderstanding and ignorance. Americans have this idea that everyone in the Arab world lives in tents and rides camels and wears long, flowing robes with bombs strapped to them underneath. The Arab world thinks we all live in mansions and eat whole cows at every meal and drink oil to wash it down and give all our disposable income to Israel.

It’s all a bunch of stupidity, and neither side is less guilty than the other. But it’s easier to shout at each other and to succumb to the violence of hatred than it is to listen. We’ve had all of this Quran-burning, mosque-building nonsense in the US, which sadly is not the behavior of extremists. People are proud of their hate. It’s disgusting.

The essence of conflict is cowardice.

The peacemakers of the world all shared one thing in common: courage. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Yitzhak Rabin all lost their lives because peacemaking is a threat to the weak men who wage war. Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley, and Tony Blair had the balls to sit down at the same table together to end the 800 year long conflict in Ireland. Mikhail Gorbachev risked his life and was exiled to bring change to the Soviet Union, and Boris Yeltsin stared down tanks in the front of the Russian parliament building to stop a coup that would bring back communism. Conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Cyprus were resolved because people were strong enough and brave enough to put aside their hatreds. Europe’s entire history is defined by war, so some very smart and very brave men sat down and decided to create a system that would ensure if one country attempted to wage war on another, the warmongering country would be destroyed in the process. Today we call it the European Union.

Peace is not a “liberal elitist hippy” idea. It is a reality. For the life of me I can’t understand why there are people on this planet that are fine with war. Unbalanced chemicals in their brains, I guess. If only the warmongers of the world would smash the houses and kill the families of the other warmongers of the world and leave the rest of us out of it…

The East and West are not destined to be enemies forever, but you need to cut the crap, stop letting cable news tell you how to think, and find the courage to say “Enough!” Some people need help with that. We need better channels of communication, more direct contact, and the desire to live in a peaceful world. What better way to bring the two worlds together than with the beautiful game of baseball, a game that is as much about strategy as it is about physical ability?

Hopefully, though, the two sides won’t end up using baseball bats the way the mafia does.

If you would like to make a donation to the peacebuilding program, you can send through Paypal to paddyglover@gmail.com.