A reflection on international day of peace
Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, who supervised the creation of the first atomic bomb, appeared before a congressional Committee. They inquired of him if there was any defence against the weapon.
“Certainly,” the great physicist replied.
“And that is,” Dr. Oppenheimer looked over the hushed, expectant audience and softly said: “peace.”
The warring world is torn into factions and keep fighting. The unrest and bloodletting go on and on. While such wars and unrests become more common, people long for the days of peace and serenity. Seldom do they realize in this world of advertisement and attractions that all these unrests are symptoms of injustice. Behind every war, behind every unrest, behind every tussle there is a problem of unequal sharing of wealth. There will always be wars and unrest as long as there is inequality and injustice.
Any war between nations begins from a man’s heart. Nations have no existence apart from their people. If every person in the world loved peace, every nation would love peace. If all men refused to fight one another and refuse to be unjust to one another, nations could not be unjust and as a result will not fight one another.
September 17, is the International Day of peace.
‘Justice and Peace’ is phrase that in human rights circles rolls off the tongue almost as easily as ‘coffee and snacks,’ but what does it actually mean? Peace! We think we understand the meaning well enough: no fighting, no abuse, good manners. The sign of peace is the gesture of a community at peace with itself.
But real peace means much more than not fighting. Pope Paul VI once said that ‘Peace is the fruit of anxious daily care to see that everyone lives in the justice that God intends.’ “Right at the heart of the Gospel,” said the bishops of the world in 1971, “lie the work we must do for justice.”
We are very good at charity as an immediate response to suffering. Catholic congregations are generous indeed when it comes to appeal collections. But working for justice means trying to do something about the causes of suffering and poverty as well a relieving its immediate symptoms. It is not enough to put band – aids on the wounds of society. We need to strike it at the root and remove its causes. That applies well to spiritual realm too.
Weapons of mass destruction keep flowing to the developing nations. While the people are distracted with war, the weapon supplying nations, are busy having an eye on the natural resources and oil deposits of the world. Restraining the MNCs from their exploitation of the poorer countries is today a major act of justice that will bring peace.
It is a scandal, for example, that 15 million children under the age of six die every year from starvation and disease while the world still spends about eight hundred thousand million dollars ($800,000,000,000) a year on weapons. The world is taking a path of violence to attain peace and order. A great irony indeed!
St. Peter himself came to know that, “God has no favourites.” Many extreme nationalist, even committed ones, need to be reminded of these words of St. Peter. We see young men getting trained for heroism in the military, and I became determined to show that the courage of the non-violent Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, is just as powerful as that of the violent heroes. “Do not fear the words of violent people but the silence of honest ones” said Martin Luther King. Gandhi was feared not for his violence but for this refusal to budge to the British, for his non-violent satyagraha. “The only sure guarantee of peace is morality and justice,” says Goldwin Smith.
History hides more than it can reveal, particularly in matters of portraying martyrs for peace and justice. These martyrs broke their image to set the image of the society right. The society basks in their glory and thrives on their justice works. So peace is yet to be built on a strong foundation. It has to be a daily affair. We need to pray God to keep sending prophets who will destroy injustice and lay foundation for peace.
No doubt peace has its victories, but what the world needs is a victory that has its peace. So, to be enduring, a peace must be endurable. A deceitful peace is more hurtful than open war. The more just we are in our dealings, the more sincere we are in our dealings, the more peaceful we will be. Amidst slogans of globalization there has to be the most prominent one; and that is: globalize not war but justice.
There can be no PEACE without JUSTICE
Originally published in Don Bosco Magazine (September 2006)