Friday, November 4, 2011

Peace: the greatest gift

IN THIS “Season of Peace” that is Christmas, be thankful for the blessing of Peace.

It isn’t a perfect Peace. None will dispute that. There are frustrating wars against communist and Muslim insurgents who persist in their failing campaigns to bend the government’s will.

In this “Season of Peace,” grieve for the 40,000 Filipinos who have died in a communist insurgency that renewed its campaign of violence a day after Christmas in 1968.

Mourn for the 120,000 other Filipinos who have perished in Mindanao since Filipino Muslims decided to right perceived wrongs against them by force of arms in 1972. Lament the thousands physically wounded and those emotionally scarred by these wars, and the millions displaced from their homes.

In this “Season of Peace,” say a prayer and try to do something for our countrymen who have suffered and continue to suffer from these wars. And remember the child victims of war.

The dreadful toll of Filipinos taken by these wars illustrates war’s perverse and preferred role as an arbiter of conflict among human beings. War is as old as man. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of war or the employment of organized armed violence dating back 12,000 years.

War is pervasive. As far as can be determined, there has been a war every year somewhere on our planet for the past 3,000 years. And this rush to war seems to have been hastened by the rise of the “civilized” state 5,000 years ago.

One report claims there have only been 26 days of peace from 1945 to 2005. The year 1945 saw the end of World War II in which 70 million persons died, history’s bloodiest death toll from any war.

That's only 26 days of peace out of the 22,000 days from 1945 to 2005. And it’s fairly certain there hasn’t been a single day of peace from 2006 until today. Mankind stubbornly refuses to give Peace a chance.

War is enduring. Sadly, war has been—and remains—a common arbiter of disputes between states and among armed groups. It’s also the least effective since it sows, as it so often has, the bloody seeds of the next conflict and the one after that.

Witness World War I, the "War to End All Wars" that ignited the bloodier World War II, which then led to the proxy wars between democracy and communism that, in turn, saw Muslims take up the sword in the conflicts that batter today's world.

And if one gazes at the 19th century, one witnesses our own revolution against Spain, one of the many wars for independence fought by enslaved peoples against European empires, chiefly those of Britain, Spain and France.

Why does man avidly forsake Peace? The answers are as complex as the causes of war. But whether one believes the Biblical comment wars begin in men's hearts, or take into account the opinion most wars are ignited by greed, one cannot escape the reality of war's stranglehold on mankind.

Filipinos should count their blessings, however. It’s worse in some places where the word Peace isn’t defined as the absence of violent action, but as a pause in the horrors of war.

Recall Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and the Sudan, and those obscure places in Europe, Africa and Asia where racial hatreds have exploded into genocide.

In this “Season of Peace,” remember to love your fellowman as you love yourself. By doing so, you give Peace more than the fighting chance it needs to calm man’s violent passions.

Peace and Love to All in this Season of Peace.

Banish war.