Monday, January 01, 2007

Peace or War 2007?

The by-word for 2007, at least as reported by the U.S. media on December 31, 2006, is “Hope for Peace.”

Without question, this is a worthy sentiment and a noble goal to set for the world. But it is a goal that will never – because it can never – be reached. Why? Simplistically stated, global peace will exist only when each person in the world experiences that complete inner peace that spontaneously overflows into all interpersonal relations.

Diplomats speak of peace both as a goal and – more importantly – as a process. In the latter sense, peace requires real effort, a series of discussions and agreements followed by pragmatic actions implementing the agreements, modalities verifying implementation, and mechanisms enforcing adherence, should that be needed.

When politicians speak of peace as a goal, they do not always include peace as a process. In such instances, “peace” is merely the temporary absence of armed conflict, usually because one side in a dispute has been suppressed or expelled. There is no inner peace for either the “victor” nor the “vanquished.” Consequently, there is no collective external peace.

Ironically, the end of December 2006 is a time – the Christian Christmas, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al Adha), the secular western observance of the New Year – in which there is a collective articulated plea for “peace on earth” even as the killing goes on. In the course of two days, a former dictator is executed less as an exercise of “state justice” than as sectarian revenge. More than 60 bodies of Iraqis are found the next morning. On the final day of 2006, the cumulative number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq exceeds 3,000.

To hope and to pray for peace invests individual reason and faith in this goal – commendably so. But these are of little consequence unless they are transformed into action, into the process of doing peace, each in his or her own way.

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