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"Peace... Is Never the Highest Good Unless..."

I'm determined to reach a personal opinion on a potential war with Iraq before we actually go to war. While I have yet to come to a decision, certain writings are weighing heavily on me as I consider the issue. This is one of them:

We must ever bear in mind that the great end in view is righteousness, justice as between man and man, nation and nation, the chance to lead our lives on a somewhat higher level, with a broader spirit of brotherly goodwill one for another. Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.
This was Teddy Roosevelt's lecture upon acceptance of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. In other words, Roosevelt used the occasion of receiving the world's most famous prize for peace to argue that peace in and of itself should not be our "highest good" -- that peace for the wrong reasons would be a "very evil thing."


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