Archived Story

What is an instrument of peace, anyway?

Published 10:58am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Point of View by Jerrold Dettle

St. Francis of Assisi admirably prayed to be an instrument of peace and none can argue with that approach. But as individuals, our work as instruments of peace are limited in regard to a much larger world around us. However, by working together in groups, the potential for much greater impact exists.

Jerrold Dettle
Jerrold Dettle

The intent here is recreate a renewed interest in what are some of the most important instruments of peace. Here are the four instruments of peace that have proven historically to have helped maintain peace for short periods in the world, but especially during the approximate 250 years of American political thought.

The first instrument is effective and equitable law enforcement. In a recent article written by a national leader in law enforcement, the major complaint was in regard to the increasing number of regulations that divert from time allotted to enforcement and the restriction of the overall safety of the officers.

“Policeman shot” is a headline now read more frequently than ever in the past. Serious applicants seeking a life career in the law enforcement profession have diminished rapidly in number nationally. Hiring standards have been lowered to meet required levels. Most importantly, the author states that current new hires often lack the will to “clear a street corner,” which to that official means a true harbinger of weak law enforcement for the citizenry.

The second instrument is military strength. Since World War II, it can be reasonably said that an unusually long period without a major war between nations has occurred because of the overwhelming power of America’s military and economic strength. Some governmental organizations over the centuries, such as, the League of Nations, United Nations and NATO might be given credit by some as being instruments of peace.

Amazingly, some dictatorial leaders have occasionally brought peace through prosperity and military security. Some can recall the term Pax Romana from school studies. It describes some periods of the Roman Empire when a benevolent emperor, such as Augustus, actually maintained peace and prosperity throughout the civilized world with the help of a strong military and open trade lanes.

When the economic and physical strength of the force maintaining peace wanes, then humans always turn to violence and exploitation to satisfy their animalistic needs. It follows that a person or group seeking power will always seek to eliminate the instrument or force that is maintaining the peace. Citizens lose protection against foreign threats, and lose an economic base that has maintained domestic peace. Turbulence among the peoples of a nation and the fear of the loss of security, in turn, drives populations to seek help from a dictatorial leader or a controlling centralized government.

The third instrument of peace is to refocus on the freedoms of the American individual. Many democracies, including ours, have given people hope for life improvement for nearly 250 years. Hundreds of individualistic Americans, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Bill Gates have raised the standards of living for millions, a lifestyle unimaginable 100 years ago.

Seventeen hundred years ago the civilized world was divided between two well-known philosophers. One was Augustine and another was a man named Pelagius. Both rightly professed a doctrine for the common good.

Generally, Augustine spoke that the well being of people can be achieved through a pious lifestyle. Pelagius encouraged what seemed to be the old saying “God helps those who help themselves.”

Many historians attribute Augustine’s winning philosophy as a major cause of the “Dark Ages.” In the new world of the Americans, the settlers in Canada and the United States generally followed the Puritan culture, a mixture of the two philosophies but leaning toward individualism.

Other nations appear to have leaned toward the more submissiveness of the great thinker, Augustine. The poverty existing in the latter cultures has been distinctly more severe for centuries. When cultures depend on a strong centralized authority for whatever reason, serfdom and a lack of economic freedom always follows.

The fourth instrument of peace is the needed rejection of bias. The symptoms of bias and envy can be seen in many different ways, such as racial prejudice, regional resentments, urban versus rural, poor versus rich and workers versus management.

Those wanting to destroy existing instruments of peace will polarize the people and establish hateful and vengeful attitudes. Loaded with bias, their efforts always originate with creating vengeance against current groups. Again, the old pattern of bias grows as the governing officials and the people of wealth become the envious targets of the so-called “have nots,” seeking retribution. These events are frequent and have occurred many times in almost all nations throughout the history of the world.

If the focus can be re-created with strong emphasis on improving these four instruments of peace, the current decline of America will be reversed.


Albert Lea resident Jerrold Dettle is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party. The “My Point of View” columns alternate weekly between local Democrats and Republicans.