All we are saying is give peace a chance”
—John Lennon, 1969
This week the three major religions of the world marked their holy days in calendric synchrony. Over the same few days, Muslims observed Ramadan, Jews celebrated Passover and Christians rejoiced at Easter services. There, in itself, is every reason to hope for peace on earth.
Yet despite the rhyming and timing of religious holidays that brought together hundreds of millions of people in common and sacred rituals, the world is caught in a spasm of violence, conflict and grief.
Eruptions of fighting, from Ukraine to Israel to Afghanistan to Myanmar to Yemen, to skirmishes throughout South America and Africa, to fractious divisions within our own country, all feel discordant with the homilies coming from the pulpits and the hope for peace on earth. At any moment, hot spots around the globe could ignite. See: Latvia, Taiwan, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, Kashmir, Syria and the Korean Peninsula.
There have been times of relative world peace going back to the Pax Romana, a 200-year-interval when Rome ruled the civilized world. History teaches us, however, that the nature of human beings pushes them to fight for what they need or want. Today, though, the weapons are more lethal, the outcomes of war are more catastrophic, and we humans seem less inspired by the calls to peace by leaders, religion, or the cautionary tales of history. We all know the exceptions, when people need to stand and fight; still, so much conflict ends only in lost lives and time and homeland.
Read the headlines at press time. From the New York Times: “Russia has sent a series of warnings to the Biden administration, demanding that it halt shipment of weapons to Ukraine or risk unpredictable consequences. …
“The messages came as Russia hit a missile factory near Kyiv and set a stage for a bloody battle to take control of eastern Ukraine. … The sinking of one of Russia’s most formidable warships, the Moskva, is a stunning blow for the country — whether the ship sank after an accidental fire, as Russia’s Defense Ministry maintains, or after being struck by missiles, as Ukraine has claimed.”
From Al Jazeera: “Palestinians and Israelis have witnessed an increase in violence over the past month, with Palestinian attackers targeting Israeli cities and Israeli forces stepping up raids, shootings and arrests across the illegally occupied West Bank.
“The recent surge marks the deadliest wave of violence since 2016.
“Four attacks by Palestinians in four Israeli cities have taken place since March 22, killing 14 people, while Israel has increased its raids on Palestinian towns and villages, leading to daily clashes and arrests. Sixteen Palestinians have been killed in the same period, including those who committed the attacks in Israel. The two most recent attacks in Israel took place in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, and were carried out by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.”
From Haaretz: “Around 50,000 Muslims, half from the West Bank, arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for noon prayers Friday after a six-hour clash at the site between Palestinians and Israeli police, the worst skirmishing in Jerusalem since the month of Ramadan began on April 1. At least 152 Palestinians and three Israeli police officers were injured in the clashes Friday.”
In Serbia, during a soccer match last week, the crowd held up a giant banner critical of America, listing all the world conflicts where the United States has sent troops. The banner ended on a sarcastic tone, with the message, “All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance.”
No one would argue that global peace is on the horizon. However, even as the war in Ukraine and the violence in Israel make headlines, the coincidence of the holidays begs us for a moment to think about peace. Just a moment to turn toward the light.
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” — the Dalai Lama
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Mother Teresa
“‘Give Peace a Chance’ is an anti-war song written by John Lennon (originally credited to Lennon–McCartney) and recorded with the participation of a small group of friends in a performance with Yoko Ono in a hotel room in Montreal.”
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.