Simple Solution for Ending War

10 08 2011

One great thing about researching for my current book project (on North American Tribes) is coming across interesting facts. I discovered that some of the California Indian nations had an unusual way of doing battle–one I think we might do well to emulate.

The opponents lined up facing each other and at a signal from their chiefs, who monitored the battle, they began firing arrows at each other. The battle ended when the first person died. That side was declared the loser, and everyone stopped shooting.

Battle over. Minimal casualties.

If either side felt they hadn’t gotten enough satisfaction, the two chiefs set up another battle in a different location ten day later. Same rules. If during the battle, things got out of hand or too many people were hurt, the chiefs took off their hairnets and waved them in the air. Fighting stopped instantly.

That ten day cooling off period was a terrific idea. I wonder how many fights got called off during that time as ration prevailed over emotion.

I’m thinking we could learn a lot from this. Although I’d love to see a world completely at peace, this might be a solution to the horrible carnage of war. Limit the deaths to one rather than thousands.

The more I read the accounts of European explorers and American settlers, the more I have to wonder about the label, “savages” that the Euro-Americans used for the Native nations. Who really were the savages?

North Korean Tunnels Under Seoul?

12 08 2009

The scariest part of the DMZ trip was at the end when we entered a tunnel that had been blasted underground from North Korea all the way to Seoul. It was a long walk through the tunnel, hunched over, until we came to the steel door that had been installed to block off access. According to the guide, North Korea said the tunnels were for coal mining. Okay, say that’s true. How come they came all the way into South Korea to Seoul? If you’re digging or blasting underground to remove coal, or anything else for that matter, do you have the right to go beyond your country’s borders? It wouldn’t seem so. Technically, anything underground should belong to the country above it, right?

So, that leads to an even bigger question: Why were there four tunnels that just happen to run from North Korea to two major cities in South Korea? Hmmm… And according to the video we saw, the South Koreans believe there may be as many as 10 undiscovered tunnels. Pretty scary thought! I’m picturing the land under South Korea riddled with underground tunnels. My writer’s brain went crazy with possible scenarios. Could the weight of the city cause it all to collapse if too many tunnels are dug? What if some of the tunnels come to the surface inside houses or buildings, and the North Koreans are infiltrating the country without the South Koreans being aware of it? What if they set off huge explosive devices inside all of them at the same time? If I were into warfare novels, I’d have lots of ideas for plotlines.

The tunnel we went into was discovered in 1991, when people in the area complained of strange noises. Holes were bored in the area and filled with water. An underground explosion shot water into the air. Later the remaining water trickled down into the hole that had been made below it, so these tunnels have been made long after the cease fire. Another reminder that the two countries are still technically at war.

BTW, no pictures allowed. They made us leave our cameras on the military bus, but I scoured the web & found this so you can see what it looks like:

The only thing you can’t see is the steep descent into the tunnel.  I wasn’t the only one sweating in my yellow hard hat. The worst was yet to come. After going down, slogging all the way through the tunnel, stooped over, you had to make it back up the steep incline. Sure were a lot of people resting along the side, gasping for breath, claiming they had allergies or heart trouble. Was I one of them? All I can say is: I’m glad they didn’t allow cameras.

Unification of North and South Korea

8 08 2009

dmz-split globe This sculpture that we saw on the DMZ trip truly exemplifies the split between the two countries. Before we entered North Korea, we walked through Peace House, built for the talks to end the war. A lovely building, but it’s never been used. The war has not officially ended, so the two countries are still enemies.

Our tour guide’s mother fled North Korea and has no idea what happened to her siblings or other relatives who stayed behind. But I was interested to discover that a bridge between the two countries has been restored and, even more interesting, South Korea has a manufacturing complex located in North Korea. It’s staffed by North Koreans; South Korea supplies the electricity. A joint venture that might lead to unification? One certainly hopes so.

But the soldier who took us into North Korea told us an interesting anecdote about the two countries meeting to talk peace. The talks broke down, but both sides were reluctant to leave the table because they didn’t want to be the first to give in, so they sat there staring at each other for 18 hours until both sides agreed to get up and leave at the same time. That story makes me wonder: How much of war is about pride? About saving face? About fear of being seen as weak? About needing to feel you have the upper hand? About power and control?

If pride and power are taken out of the equation, would everyone live at peace?