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Tom Chaney: Why Not Peace?

Of Writers And Their Books: Why Not Peace? Tom reviews a textbook on the problems of war and peace published in 1932. This column first appeared 24 August 2008.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Roast Pig and Charles Lamb

By Tom Chaney

Why Not Peace?

When we first began to think that opening a bookstore in Horse Cave was no more an insane act than having a world class theatre here, I was living in exile in Philadelphia peddling ticky-tacky souvenirs to unsuspecting flatland tourists.

I started looking about me in that far country for books and trying to learn the ins and outs of book buying and selling. Some folks saw me a'coming and correctly judged me for the novice that I was.


But on at least one occasion I got a bargain that is still paying off. I read in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Main Line Reform Temple was having a book sale.

I hied myself over there and made a deal to take what was left after the sale was over. I got several hundred books which have, amazingly, sold in Horse Cave.

One has not. And, as I was reorganizing our collection of books about religion, I picked it up The Jewish Peace Book for Home and School by Abraham Cronbach. As the title indicates, it is a textbook on the problems of war and peace for synagogue and school. All work stopped whilst I read. When I noted that it was published in 1932, my heart sank.

Europe then was at the beginning of the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. Very soon some six million European Jews, along with others, would begin the decade-long death march to the concentration camps.

Nonetheless, Professor Cronbach's little book should still be read. The book is divided into three sections. The first section presents stories about peace for young and, barely, not so young children.

In the chapter "Gaining by Yielding" the Old Testament story of the quarrel between the herdsmen of Lot and those of Abraham is told. The solution is one of peace. Abraham says, "Let there be no quarrel between us. Choose what you want, I shall content myself with those regions that you do not choose."

The second section, "Peace Thoughts for Jewish Groups," is oriented to adult discussion. "Of all the world's evils, war is the greatest," Cronbach writes. "Bad as may be sickness, poverty, wrongdoing, shame, suffering, death, war is worse than any of them because war includes them all."

That section ends with the sketch "The Biggest Job in the World."

Briefly, there were two cities called Dumdrudge on either side of a fertile valley. A national boundary ran in the valley between.

Each Dumdrudge had fifty young men and women who were to become bankers, poets, farmers, doctors, teachers, statesmen. They were to be the hope of their families and cities in days to come when parents were old.

It fell that the leaders of the two Dumdrudges had a disagreement which they could not settle.

The old men of each village called their fifty young folks together.

"You know that we are right and they are wrong. To settle our quarrel, you must go into the valley and kill the young people in the other village of Dumdrudge. If you do that it will settle the quarrel we have with their fathers."

Of course the young people believed their elders and each group set out from their own Dumdrudge. That morning there were one hundred promising young people. That night there were no more bankers, lawyers, poets, farmers, doctors, teachers or statesmen. All were dead or severely mangled.

The quarrel was not settled.

However, in the Great War, World War I, 10,000,000 boys died attempting to settle an old men's quarrel.

Fortunately, that was the war to end all wars.



Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
THE BOOKSTORE
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
270-786-3084
Email: Tom Chaney
http://www.alibris.com/stores/horscave




This story was posted on 2013-08-25 00:51:02
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