Cry for peace

Cry for peace

“I dream that we’re living
in peace that we’re seeking
But dreams have no rhyme
The sun doesn’t shine
The bombs keep on falling
The guns go on blazing
And song birds can’t sing”
-Song for Marawi and a Troubled Country (frebbjr)

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently observed that “the world is a mess” because of three things: “ultra-nationalism, terrorism and uneven growth”. She cites the first as behind phenomena such as Brexit, the emergence of ultra nationalist leaders such as Trump (ours too, many might say); the second behind ISIS and other related violent extremists including our Maute and other homegrown unbridled belligerents; and the third as coming from “macroeconomics” that results in growth which leaves many behind. To my mind these factors are rooted in one common base: a sense of injustice.

Ultra-nationalists cry foul over foreigners taking advantage of their openness or generosity. Terrorists rage against perceived wrongdoings against their religious affiliation or ideology. Victims of unbridled capitalist wealth production see their fair share in their country’s and the world’s wealth being swallowed out of their frail hands. There may be three faces, but they have only one monstrous body. That is to say, if, according to Paul the Apostle, the wages of sin is death, war and non-peace is of injustice. Unless this is addressed dreams of peace could stay overcome by nightmares at daytime.

Yet there are other roots of non-peace. So says the Catholic Catechism: “Injustice, excessive economic and social inequalities, envy, distrust and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars” (CCC 2317).

To try to solve the conflict in Marawi, Mindanao and the Philippines through the barrel of the gun and Martial Law (its extension really adds nothing to the equation) is not only short-sighted. It is also bound to fail. The simple reason is that it does not address the roots themselves. That the government and those at its helm know this is a given. Which is why the chief executive and his powerful allies insist also on the BBL and federalism as part of their multi-pronged response.

Still, to my mind, they are wide of the mark.

And the simple reason this time is that the other roots of non-peace are moral and spiritual. Envy, distrust and pride are impervious to bombs, guns, the best legislations or economic and social management. The insight of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World is worth taking into account: “Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished…” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 78).

Will the government or any human institution be able to craft an effective program to counter pride, distrust and envy among men and nations? With all due respect to all of them, I strongly doubt it. Anyone in his right mind will.

This is why we need to seriously heed the message of the Lady of Fatima. Prayer and penance may have invisible substance and effects; they are doubtless beyond measurability. But they are our main weapons against the invisible spiritual-moral roots of non-peace.

Peace needs the Church.

Peace needs the Church’s courage to proclaim the Good News. She needs to endlessly summon all human beings to repentance “for the kingdom is near at hand” (Mk 1:15); she needs to urge her children and friends to follow the counsel of Mary to ever walk the path of prayer and penance for all sinners, themselves first of all; she needs to call all human beings of good will to overcome hatred through charity and brotherhood.

She needs to keep the dream of Isaiah alive: “And they (the nations) shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Is 2:4).

“We must feel the pain
of this stark cold night
Or the dark remains
as our dreadful plight.
We must fight the night
with our fearless care
raging for the light
and it will be here.
By dawn the bells will ring
when the songbirds sing”
-Song for Marawi and a Troubled Country

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