Monday, January 12, 2015

Peace - The Occasional State Between Conflicts

With every wish for a Happy New Year comes the additional wish for peace.  I'm not sure what most of the world regards as a "state of peace," but if its a world with no major conflicts, peace has not existed for any significant period of time since the beginnings of written history.  If it is a state of the world where most of it is at peace, and only a small part of it is at war - then we are at peace now - after all millions are not dying, only a few thousand here and there.

The history of our world is one of conflicts - wars, threats of war, skirmishes, battles, policies of mutual destruction and standoffs (Cold Wars), riots, terrorism, mass murder, genocide........and more.  Eras of real peace exist only for short periods between these non-peaceful events, which, in fact, provide most of the milestones by which history is studied.

All of civilization's major religions include "peace on earth" as an important, if not the most important tenet (well, maybe not all religions).  All philosophies, whether agnostic, atheistic, or theistic have peace as a central theme.   Despite all the preachings of love peace, etc., etc., etc. - it doesn't happen - it doesn't work. If God does exist, then his answer to requests for peace has always been a resounding "No!" All of history's preaching and philosophizing  has not had the intended effect.

Of course there is the age-old argument (specious, of course) that without prayer, etc. conditions would even be worse.  That's like saying the Holocaust could have been worse - we should consider ourselves lucky - after all it could have resulted in the loss of 12 million instead of 6 million Jewish lives.

Our species is not a peaceful one - never has been and, it seems, never will be.  We are battlers, we are constantly at war with one another, whether with weapons or with words.  I believe it is part of the human DNA.  We will continue to pray for peace, and some among us may actually find inner peace - but world peace - it is not who we are.

Remember - the enemy feels strongly that God is on his side. He feels he is in the right!  It is we who are the devils.  It is we who are wrong.

As this is being written, rallies for peace are taking place in Paris in reaction to the recent atrocities committed by radical Muslim terrorists.  How well I remember similar rallies after 9/11.  Think of all the peace rallies that have taken place - and then evaluate their long-term effectiveness.

Peace may come, not with a change in our behavior and attitudes as we know them, not with some awaited messiah, but perhaps with some future engineered alterations in our biological structure, alterations in our chemical and molecular makeup, alterations in our DNA!  This is not happening soon.  Peace is not around the corner.  Peace is not at hand.  There will be no peace in our time.

But yearning for peace will continue.  Yearning for the impossible, or the highly improbable, is what we do. When will we "beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks?" When will we see Utopia?

Yearn if you wish, but expect nothing.  Peace will continue to occur intermittently.   Peace is a manicured lawn left unattended.  The grass will grow wildly and the weeds of war, constantly lurking underground, await sprouting once again.  The lawn requires constant mowing and the weeds constant uprooting - and the cycle continues.

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