Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun-2

Then in high school, I was gripped by the stories of the Allied soldiers — soldiers who left the safety of their own homes and risked their lives to liberate a country and a people that they didn’t know. They liberated my birth town. It was then that I decided I would take up the gun — out of respect and gratitude for those men and women who came to liberate us — from the awareness that sometimes only the gun can stand between good and evil.

And that is why I took up the gun — not to shoot, not to kill, not to destroy, but to stop those who would do evil, to protect the vulnerable, to defend democratic values, to stand up for the freedom we have to talk here today in Amsterdam about how we can make the world a better place.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not stand here today to tell you about the glory of weapons. I do not like guns. And once you have been under fire yourself, it brings home even more clearly that a gun is not some macho instrument to brag about. I stand here today to tell you about the use of the gun as an instrument of peace and stability. The gun may be one of the most important instruments of peace and stability that we have in this world.

Now this may sound contradictory to you. But not only have I seen with my own eyes during my deployments in Lebanon, Sarajevo and [unclear] national as The Netherlands’ chief of defense, this is also supported by cold, hard statistics. Violence has declined dramatically over the last 500 years. Despite the pictures we are shown daily in the news, wars between developed countries are no longer commonplace. The murder rate in Europe has dropped by a factor of 30 since the Middle Ages. And occurrences of civil war and repression have declined since the end of the Cold War. Statistics show that we are living in a relatively peaceful era.

Why? Why has violence decreased? Has the human mind changed? Well we were talking on the human mind this morning. Did we simply lose our beastly impulses for revenge, for violent rituals, for pure rage? Or is there something else? In his latest book, Harvard professor Steven Pinker — and many other thinkers before him — concludes that one of the main drivers behind less violent societies is the spread of the constitutional state and the introduction on a large scale of the state monopoly on the legitimized use of violence — legitimized by a democratically elected government, legitimized by checks and balances and an independent judicial system. In other words, a state monopoly that has the use of violence well under control.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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