A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: War and Peace 8

Journaling prompts, such as the last two weeks’ posts about friendship and personal resistance, can help us reflect deeply about our personal, internal worlds. Journal writing can also help us consider broader, philosophical aspects of life and human nature.

After the death of Osama Bin Laden, I’ve been thinking a lot about war and peace and the nature of hatred. This may be, in part, because I’m also in the middle of reading a provocative interview in the Sun Magazine with Paul Chappell, a U.S. Iraq War veteran who has written a book titled, The End of War: How waging peace can save humanity, our planet and our future. He contends that what we all want, regardless of our political or religious affiliations, is to be safe and secure (I can agree with that), and we’ve been taught that war keeps us safe. But war actually makes us less safe, he says, because the world is interconnected and our safety and security depends on the safety and security of all the countries around the world, not just our own. He insists that violence and war is not a basic tenant of human nature, but a learned one.

What do you think?

This week’s journal writing prompts help us explore our beliefs and attitudes about human nature as it relates to war and peace:

  1. Freewrite for ten minutes about human nature and violence.
  2. Think about the polarization of political attitudes and the hatred spouted by media celebrities on all sides. Then read and write a response  to the following quote by Albert Schweitzer: The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and politics. We have reached the point of regarding each other only as members of a people either allied with us or against us and our approach: prejudice, sympathy, or antipathy are all conditioned by that. Now we must rediscover the fact that we – all together – are human beings, and that we must strive to give to each other what moral capacity we have.
  3. When you think about the death of Osama bin Laden, what is your response? Do you feel jubilant, relieved, conflicted, all of the above? Write about your feelings and what this man represented to you.
  4. Here’s another quote for your consideration — this one by Winston Churchill: Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war. What do you think Churchill meant? Do you agree or disagree with him, and in what ways?
  5. Do you believe sustained world peace is possible? Why or why not?
  6. Write isolated words that represent your response to the state of the world today in random order all over your journal page. Use different colors if it suits you. When you’re done step back and take a look at the page. Do you notice any patterns and/or predominant emotions? What are they? Select at least ten words from the page and write a paragraph or two that include those words.
  7. If you were in control of the world, how would you go about ensuring world safety and security?

This is not an easy topic to think about, but I encourage you to consider and write about it anyway. Then I invite you to leave a comment and share what you learned in the process of journaling.


Image Credit: Jayel Aheram

P.S. A personal note to my readers:

I moved in mid-April. I’d intended to keep up my regular writing and blogging schedule. Oh, foolish me! I had forgotten how all-consuming and difficult moving can be, and how urgent is the nesting instinct — the need to get everything in order once again. Or, as one friend says, to be “dialed in.” And I’d forgotten how long the process takes, thinking that, by now, I’d be back to my usual writing schedule: Wednesday blogs on topics related to making meaning, telling our stories, memoir, and general writing tips; and Friday’s Blogtalk articles.

If you’ve missed those posts, rounding out the Weekly Journaling Prompts, have no fear. Next week, I’ll resume Blogtalk and, if all goes well, Wednesday posts will resume the week after that. Thanks for your patience and support.

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8 thoughts on “A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: War and Peace

  • Linda Sievers

    Regarding the death of Osama bin Laden I was extremely disheartened by the continual showing on television of the scene of blood on the floor where supposedly he was slain, and the numerous newspaper articles I read regarding the jubiliant feelings of vindication in America and that our world will now return to pre- 9/11 order. I am sickened by such display of childish ignorance and ghoulishness coming from the press and media which continues to write/speak as though we are all as stupid as they would hope us to be. If we cannot change our learned war behavior and mentality, I hate to think what will become of us and our children when food, water, and energy become depleted.
    Thank you, Amber for some challenging thoughts on a very relevant subject.
    My best to you in your move and settling in your new environment. My husband and I moved almost a year ago, and we are still settling. It does take time.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Thank you, Linda, for your good wishes on my move. When I write the weekly journaling prompts, I try to keep my personal beliefs out of them — though I’m sure they leak through — because I genuinely want to encourage everyone to explore their own beliefs and attitudes. This is one of the ways we grow. And I respect that we have different ways of seeing and understanding life. That said, I also am saddened by the jubilation displayed on the death of a human being — even a nasty, vengeful one. At the same time, I understand that it is not really a man’s death people are celebrating: it is the symbolic death of terrorism. I only wish it was that easy. That, like the cowboy and superhero movies we’re accustomed to, you could kill the bad guy and restore order and peace to the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. On an intellectual level, people understand this. But on an emotional level, we want the guy in the white hat to ride in and save the day, saving the town from evil.

  • Linda Sievers

    Yes, we in America are certainly accustomed to clean-up jobs played out in our cowboy hero stories and movies. On a different note, I wonder what other women are thinking regarding war on our planet, and IF they could do something to turn the tides of war, what would it be? As I watched media women deliver the news on Osama and other devastating events all over our planet, I wondered that if they could comment from their hearts and minds regarding the news, what would they say? Not that men don’t hate war or have feelings of regret watching the devastation of wars and loss of lives, but if each one of us could DO something now, to change the warring nature that pervades our planet, what would it be? And if we were successful, what would our planet then become without wars? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I wonder? What would we have to give up in order to have peace all over our planet? Do we really want peace badly enough to give up war?

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Well let’s see, here in the U.S. we’d probably have to give up hoarding (and using) the majority of the world’s resources in favor of sharing those resources, we’d have to be more concerned with respect for different opinions than being “right,” and we’d have to learn about complex things like compassion and forgiveness. In short, we’d have to treat others like we want to be treated.

      I’ve always wondered what would happen if we used 25% of our current “defense” budget to help build infrastructure all over the world, another 25% to build schools and provide education to all children (here and abroad), and 25% to promote food production and storage all over the world. We’d only need to use 25% of our current budget to maintain whatever weapons we currently have (enough to destroy the earth 16 times over). After a while, I think there’s be so much goodwill developed, we could help everyone disarm and enjoy the remaining 25%. Fantasy? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

  • Linda Sievers

    Love it! Great ideas, Amber.

    I wonder if somewhere in there, since as a culture we are so expert at imposing our “rightness” everywhere, if we could set aside (5%, 10%, 15%?) to ask the world what we could do to help out of ” respect,” for what might be “needed,” or “wanted,” rather than imposing our will.

    I catch myself everyday it seems, imposing my “will” on others. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I think I’m trying to “help,” only to find I had a hidden agenda of how I thought things should be. It takes a lot of work to be pure in heart. And I miss, lots of times.