Thursday, 26 November 2015

Peace an elusive hope

Peace is such an elusive thing as recent events and continuing situations of conflict around the world remind us. My wife and I had a lovely relaxing and peaceful holiday in Egypt in early October, such a beautiful country with friendly and welcoming people. Apart from the soldiers and checkpoints, it was easy to rest in the peace and tranquillity as we travelled and took a 7 day Nile cruise. Yet a couple of weeks later a plane was shattered in the skies over Egypt and many died, many families lost their peace. The tourist industry in Egypt is once again in turmoil, peace is gone for the many families that rely on that trade.

People peacefully going about their activities in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris, parts of Africa, Israel, enjoying the markets, the restaurants, shows going to school. Bombs and bullets and the peace is shattered for the survivors and the families of the victims.

Populations in villages and towns in Syria, caught in the middle of a conflict of ideology, power and hate. Where-ever the bombs come from, people have peace removed from them in the shattering crash of explosions and of buildings falling. There is no peace for them either. It could be any number of counties in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, there are so many where peace is just an illusion.

Perhaps the real issue is us, people, our desires, our perceived needs, maybe our greed. Some want what others have, some just want more. Some want to force their views and ways onto others. Some simply want to live in security and fight to rid themselves of those who would remove that security.

Practically speaking much is written and spoken about finding peace, its all too straight forward to propose non aggressive or aggressive solutions, to suggest ways to respond and not to respond to violence and aggression. For me the bottom line was talking with a friend some years ago about responses to such things and I asked myself how I would respond if armed people threatened the lives of my wife and children and I had the means to stop them. Would I allow them to kill them and do nothing to prevent it? I cant say that I would, I would resist in any way I could to protect them.

Peace is possible, but it takes both parties in a situation to want it, to turn from aggression and seek alternatives. The problem in many such situations is that peace is not what one or the other sides wants .... the Old Simon and Garfunkle song is something that reminds me of humanities situation.

We are approaching Christmas, which for all who believe in Jesus celebrates the coming of the Prince of Peace, the one who saves humanity from its wrong ways, its sin. Peace is an illusive hope if we will not work for it, pray for it, engage in it. Jesus came to bring us hope and the ultimate peace, peace with God. Peace which passes understanding is God's gift to us if will reach out and accept it. Peace with God, peace with each other, peace that (I am dreaming dreams) does not have to be maintained with troops and barbed wire or threats, because we all want the best for each other. Peace starts with me and you and spreads out in beautiful ripples.