"Good vs. Evil" by chimerasaurus is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In most media coverage of war — including the hell in the Middle East, where World War III looms —the unexamined assumption is that we, the readers, are spectators, looking on as the missiles fly (mostly in one direction) and Good dukes it out with Evil yet again,

Paradoxically, Good and Evil are in complete agreement at least about one thing: The only way to deal with conflict is through violence.

The last thing either side wants is for this to be questioned — no matter this is the nuclear age and the future of life itself is up for grabs.

Consider this strange bit of recent reportage in the New York Times, headlined: “A U.S.-Iranian Miscalculation Could Lead to a Larger War, Officials Say.” The story is about the possibility of Iran becoming involved in the Israeli assault on Gaza. Quietly referred to as a “larger war,” a U.S.-Iran confrontation could pull in the whole nuclear-armed world, East vs. West, and . . . oops . . . morph into Armageddon.

As the Times notes, referring to the U.S.-Iran military back-and-forth that is (oh so politely) underway: “National security officials fear a miscalculation amid tit-for-tat attacks, combined with each side’s belief that the other does not want a larger fight, could trigger exactly that: a regional conflict, just two years after the United States ended 20 years of war in the Middle East and South Asia.”

As far as I’m concerned, the story’s primary takeaway is this: The game of war is beyond human control! The lucky among us get to watch and roast marshmallows while it’s going on, hoping for the best. The unlucky ones get to watch their children die in the rubble, or get their own heads blown off. And if “a miscalculation amid tit-for-tat attacks” results in the use of nuclear weapons, well, too bad. It’s been good to know ya. We’re spectators at our own demise.

As Dennis Kucinich put it in a recent interview with Chris Hedges: “We have almost a closed-loop system that guarantees that we will continue to go to war. There is no counterbalance for diplomacy or peace. That doesn’t exist.”

War, in other words, does nothing but create the certainty of more war. And peace is no more than an occasional pause as the combatants reload. And there’s no official questioning of this world —certainly not by Congress, certainly not by the media. “So there’s very little deep thinking that goes on,” Kucinich added.

My God, is this the best of who we are?

The answer is no, but to find the deepest and sanest of humanity’s thinking — awareness plus compassion — we have to dig through the wreckage that war has created. Let’s return to Palestine.

“Now more than ever, we all must refuse to use violence to justify more violence. We should not allow our pain to blind us to what is most needed: mutually guaranteed sovereignty, security, and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The words are those of Ali Abu Awwad, co-founder of the Palestinian resistance organization Taghyeer (Arabic for “change”), who was arrested as a young man during the First Intifada, along with his mother, who was a leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Imprisoned in separate facilities, they tried, for three years, to be able to see each other. They finally went on an almost unimaginable 17-day hunger strike, which resulted in his receiving permission to visit her.

“This began,” he wrote in the Daily Beast, “my painful journey of adopting nonviolence as a path toward a normal future for all the people of this bleeding land.”

And he adds: “As a leader on the West Bank, I am doing everything possible to end this madness. I am engaging local and international leaders in all that I have said in this statement. I am trying with my colleagues and partners — locally and around the world — to guarantee support for families and activists under a total closure and increasing violence against them on the West Bank. Many people today are being led by their emotions and pain. I understand this challenge all too well. Like so many caught up in this conflict, I am torn in pieces by the inner struggle between my Palestinian national identity and my belonging to all humanity.”

Those last five words — “my belonging to all humanity” — are what begin elevating Awwad, and Taghyeer, from simply being on one side of a conflict. What if those national security officials, so stressed about possible miscalculations in the unquestionably necessary tit-for-tat attacks between the United States and Iran, understood that they belonged to all humanity? What if political leaders across the planet understood this? What if this extraordinary awareness were at the core of our geopolitics?

One side of a divide is not safe and free unless all sides are safe and free. We know this — right? But we’re addicted to war and militarism and the military industrial complex. Globally addicted. The rich and powerful are clueless about change. World War III is already in motion. As Kucinich said: “. . . the center of gravity that holds the world together right now is starting to fracture.”

Here's another kernel of truth emerging from humanity’s wreckage. The following words are part of the Nonviolence Charter Taghyeer puts forth: “The past carries unforgettable trauma and pain across the land and among generations of refugees; yet we choose to transform victimhood into agency. We want to be the authors of our future.”

Authors of our future? What do you think? Do we have a right to participate in our own evolution?

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him or visit his website at