A FEW WEEKS ago the Social Service Council of the Church of England in Canada ran head on into one of
the most lunatic and ominous paradoxes of our times. The council wished to say something favorable and effective about peace. It found the task too great. “Anybody who is in any way connected with peace is branded a Communist,” one of the council’s members pointed out, and the council decided to say nothing.
The engulfment of words is an old and time-tested means toward the engulfment of nations. The Communists have not been the first to put it to use but they have been among the most successful. For much of their success they themselves are entitled to full credit. It took imagination of the highest order to conceive the semantic miracle in which peace means war and war means peace. It took tenacity of the highest order to sell the proposition to the hundreds of millions of people who have bought it lock, stock and barrel and to the millions of others who are willing to let it go by default through their sheer helpless bewilderment.
Just the same, we believe the Communists’ gradual engulfment of the word peace is a disaster that we who are opposed to the Communists should have prevented and still have a chance to remedy. There are two things we might do. We might try latching back onto the word ourselves
and putting it to work on our side again. Or we might issue a formal proclamation announcing the word has become so debauched and corrupted that we want no more part of it.
If we took the latter course we’d have to find some new word for peace. Probably we’d need at least two new words -one meaning peace in the pure, pacific sense, another meaning peace in the modern, practical you-slough-me-and-I’ll-slough-you right-back sense. The new words we suggest are:
Pleace: An attitude of non-belligerency inviting acts of belligerency. (A compound of please and peace.)
Poleace: An attitude of belligerency inviting acts of non-belligerency. (Derived from police and you know what.)
Our personal inclination would be to dig in with what we have and try to hold the line. We still think it’s too early to give up on a word as old and good as this one. We still think that, no matter how seedy, tarnished and mixed-up it has become amid the company it’s been keeping lately, peace is a word that no brave or honorable man need ever be ashamed to use. If the reality of peace is worth fighting for— and we believe it is—the word itself is worth fighting for too.
We’re willing to start the ball rolling. This magazine is in favor of peace. We said it and we’re glad.
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