I heard a conversation yesterday on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show with John Horgan, a science journalist who has recently published a book, The End of War. Horgan's premise is that war is not inevitable, and that the human inclination to go to war is curable. Those who called in to the show were almost universally fatalistic - they agreed that war is an essential part of human nature, one that we will never overcome.
Although I cannot speak to the scientific arguments behind the idea, I can say with certainty that Judaism holds out peace as humanity's ultimate goal: we conclude every Amidah, the essential tefillah of every service, and every Qaddish, the classic statement of faith with which we conclude every service, with the following statement:
עושה שָׁלום בִּמְרומָיו הוּא יַעֲשה שָׁלום עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu ve'al kol Yisra'el, ve'imru amen.
May the One who makes peace on high make peace for us and for all Israel, and let us say Amen.
Perhaps war is not inevitable, but it has been present throughout human history, and the Jewish response from antiquity until today has been to keep the desire for peace always on our lips. Mr. Lehrer's conversation is part of a series; I am looking forward to the rest of the discussion. Meanwhile, I will continue to seek peace through tefillah and through action.
Rabbi Seth Adelson