WE have just celebrated the Advent and Christmas Seasons. The focus was on the coming and actual birth of Jesus Christ; the Emmanuel and the Saviour of the world; our Redeemer.
During the Christmas Season, we recalled the very first Christmas. On the first Christmas night, the angels announced glad tidings to the poor shepherds of Bethlehem, and, indeed, the whole world, that Jesus Christ was born. A translation of what they said in the Catholic Tradition was: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of Good Will”.
But if Christ came to bring peace, why is it that our world is still not experiencing this promised universal peace? There is a continuous search for peace in, our communities, in our region and in our world.
As I understand it, the search for peace at home and around the world is a holy endeavour, and that only men of good will can receive this gift of peace. Little wonder that after more than 2000 years we are not any closer to experiencing world peace. I now ask the question, will peace ever be achieved in our world? Now let’s investigate the reality of the world in which we live. This investigation may lead us to the answer to that question.
Let us now examine the word peace. It means freedom from disturbance, tranquillity; a state of period where there is no war, or war has ended; in the Catholic tradition, a ceremonial handshake or kiss symbolizing Christian love and friendship.
Now let us look at the word goodwill. It is a kindly feeling of approval and support; a benevolent interest or concern. Some words associated with goodwill are: compassion, goodness, kindness, cooperation, friendliness, thoughtfulness and decency.
Now why are the words peace and goodwill not striking ‘home’ for so many in our world?
Indeed, why is our world so violent? Why is our region so troubled? Why has crime and criminal activities have become so prevalent in our beautiful island today?
At this point let me give you a layman’s understanding of the various environments. And let us begin with the Holy Land itself; the land where the angels broke the good news of “Peace to men of good will”. God’s people the Jews and the Palestinians have not been able to live in peace and harmony for more than 2000 years. In fact, there is a wall which divides the Jews from the Palestinians on the same block and parcel of land. There is continuous war between Israel and Palestine. As a schoolboy listening to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) world news there was always turbulence in the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights; war between Iraq and Iran.
In the Caribbean islands, although closely knit, we have experienced our fair share of violence over the years, causing many people to seek shelter or refuge in other Caribbean lands.
Indeed, in St. Lucia, we are experiencing turbulent times. Crime and criminal activities are all around us. Many people are scared for their lives. There are no exceptions; not even for the police who are symbols of law and order.
Many organizations now exist to bring about peace in our world. Some of these organizations are: International Peace Bureau; Nonviolent Peace force; Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed conflict; Pathways to Peace (an official messenger of the United nations); the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement; the Global Peace Foundation; The Organization for World Peace; The International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief; The Red Cross International Organization for migration (organization with global mandate); and the International Committee of the Red cross.
Notwithstanding that all of those international peace organizations exist, there is still unrest in the Middle East between Iraq and Iran; unrest in Venezuela, close to home, and so much crime right here at home, in this beautiful land of hours, threatening our social and economic survival.
God made us good; we were born ‘tabula raza’. As human beings, with an inborn spirit, we are supposed to be compassionate, kind, cooperative and friendly. We should be intent of extending a kind feeling of approval to each other. Have we thrown benevolent interest and concern for each other out of the window?
We are now entering another turbulent period in our nation; an Election Campaign. Have our election campaigns been peaceful over the last two decades? We, as a St. Lucian people have allowed politics to divide and polarise us now, more than ever before; to the extent that many of our people are suffering and marginalised. For example if you write an article to the newspaper, no matter how well intentioned you are, someone on the opposite side will try to tear you apart. That’s the kind of people we have become. During the election campaign we divide. Then after the election we shamefully call the same people to unite as a nation. Is there a sociological theory which supports that kind of behaviour? That kind of attitude?
Politics in the United States of America need to be highlighted here. Let me point out that I was in the United States of America in 2008 during the entire election campaign. I was there when the first black president was elected; President Barack Obama. The election campaign was fierce but generally nonviolent. It was so easy for Americans to unite again as one after the election. It’s incredible but true.
But what is more fascinating about American Politics is that President Barack Obama recommended and actually made political appointments across party lines. He invited distinguished members of the Republican Party to serve in his cabinet. And they accepted! And they served with distinction. More than that, it was nothing like the West Indies Federation which broke up in 1962 because of selfishness and greed.
I must admit that many presidents before President Barak Obama had done the same. I fully understand why on the US dollar is inscribed: “In God We Trust”.
Coming back to the issue of Peace in our Word, we are just two weeks into the New Year 2020 and we have had our first homicide. Is that going to be the first and last? Will we be able to report that there was only one homicide for 2020? If the answer to that is no, then will there ever be peace in our land? Will there ever be peace in our world? I leave you, my dear reader, to think about the answer?