What reason is there to esteem valour so much? For to injure and kill is an easy thing. The effects of real bravery are to repel injury, and not to cause it.

Émeric Crucé, a wise French monk, wrote these words in the 17th century. These columns will draw on many more in the following months from his book: The New Cyneas.  It is one of a rich collection amassed and presented to students and the wider world by Dr Peter van den Dungen, whose ongoing research at the University of Bradford focusses on various aspects of the development of a culture of peace. He is the general co-ordinator of the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP)

Readers are recommended to click on that link for information and those who are interested in architecture will also value the series of pictures of peace museums around the world.  

Dr van den Dungen has forcefully criticised the pre-election rhetoric of Liam Fox, “a medical doctor with his finger on the nuclear button. 

Simon Jenkins’ article: My once-in-a-generation cut? The armed forces. All of them,”is terrific . . . His radical proposal is fully in line with the key ideas put forward by Kant (1795), and precisely a hundred years after him by Nobel, in his will (1895): standing armies must be abolished (because they are a cancer) . . .” 

Simple and primitive ideas 

“I think the main problem is that the vast majority of the people are badly informed about defence issues and adhere to very simple and primitive ideas, having swallowed the propaganda of the mass media (most of which are controlled by people with vested interests in the Military Industrial Complex). 

“And of course, the Nazis were a threat, and the British armed forces gave them deservedly a bloody nose. This has only strengthened the position of the military, and the military mind-set. (The public mood is very different in Germany and Japan, which lost the war). 

“That is why in my view modern peace museums are so necessary, in order to provide some enlightenment. It is of course also a reason why we cannot expect any official support. 

 

Dr van den Dungen is truly civilised – a man of peace – we salute him.

 May his work prosper.

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