The best way to study the costs of violence and war is by outlining the diverse types of costs for these activities and then devoting individual time to each type. For parents seeking such an outline, here is a beginning. Please feel free to add (through comments) additional resources.
THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF WAR
War and state-sponsored violence cost money. Since money is not in endless supply, money spent on war is money not spent on other things, like Social Security, Medicaid, and other elements of the federal budget.
- Bombs and Budgets Curriculum in printable PDF format.
- One Minute for Peace shows how much money is spent on war every second.
- The Cost of War website provides actual numbers to measure the cost of general and specific wars.
THE SOCIAL COSTS OF WAR
War and state-sponsored violence provide legal justifications for the killing of other human beings, both the innocent and the "guilty". War often encourages citizens to nourish anger and hatred towards entire groups of human beings. Many innocent people are harmed in the process.
- Explore how a Liberian woman has been affected by ongoing wars in her country.
- Learn how to keep anger under control so that it does not tear apart your family or community with this printable lesson.
- War and violence often distance us from fellow humans in the name of "difference" and judgement. Learn how to love and respect human diversity with this printable lesson.
- War destroys nature as well as human homes and cities. Cultivate a respect for the natural world with this printable lesson plan.
- Families are destroyed by war every day. Look at Iraq Body Count to see how many families have been torn apart or suffered from this recent war.
THE SPIRITUAL COSTS OF WAR
War and state-sponsored violence often call upon us to ignore our ethical and religious commitments. This can cause spiritual trauma and distress for both soldiers and the innocent victims of war and violence.
- Discuss the spiritual and emotional costs of war by exploring the online art exhibit, Windows and Mirrors, which reveals the struggles of the people and soldiers in Afghanistan.
- For Christians, peace is the presence of God. What does this mean in terms of our faith?
- Learn how the recent war in Iraq has traumatized American soldiers by reading their stories. Also find out how noncombatants are helping spiritually-wounded soldiers recover their lives and faith.
- Think about a soldier's heart. Write about how it must feel to kill a fellow human being. How can you share love and support with soldiers and veterans in a way that does not encourage spiritual trauma?
THE POLITICAL COSTS OF WAR
War and state-sponsored violence reveal a model of "justice for the victors" which institutionalizes an unfair and unjust conception of right and wrong. For example, if one country kills millions of civilians during a war but then wins the war, it will not be forced to account for its crimes in an international court of law. Only the losing countries will be required to account for their crimes and make reparations. The goal of reducing civilian casualties becomes less important than the overall goal of winning the war at all costs.
- Examine this poster describing Dick Cheney as a war criminal and discuss how the assignment of "war crimes" in an unjust manner undermines the political goals of democracy.
- Watch these online courses on nonviolence from The Metta Center to explore the ethics of nonviolence and its social, spiritual, and economic implications. Compare these implications with the cost of war.
In addition to this model, you can explore an ethic of peace a little more deeply with the following resources:
- The 5 Themes of Peace, a rubric for children of all ages.
- Watch this video to learn why various youth in North Carolina support peace.
- "Eight Steps to Teach Kids Peace" from Yes magazine.
- Cultivating Peace in the 21st Century, an educational module.
- Cultivating Peace: Taking Action, an educational module.
- One Hundred Actions to Build A Culture of Peace, a printable PDF.
- Explore The Free Child Project.
- Host a local Hope Tank.