Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Peace by definition

I don’t really know what it means to bring “democracy” to the rest of the world. Is justice a commodity to be packaged and exported? Is freedom deliverable on weekends only for an extra charge? Does democracy really have anything at all to do with justice and freedom, or have we simply convinced ourselves that they are synonymous? Update: please read this by Molly Bingham if you haven't already.

“Peace,” is a word that rolls easily off the lips of our leaders and representatives to the world. It is a word rightly greeted with skepticism:

For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6: 13-14.

I have heard again lately the musing of how to withdraw from our conflicts and achieve peace with honor. What does peace look like?

Say ‘No’ to peace,
If what they mean by peace
Is the quiet misery of hunger,
The frozen stillness of fear,
The silence of broken spirits,
The unborn hopes of the oppressed.

Tell them that peace
Is the shouting of children at play,
The babble of tongues set free,
The thunder of dancing feet,
And a father’s voice singing.

Say ‘No’ to peace,
If what they mean by peace
Is a rampart of gleaming missiles,
The arming of distant wars,
Money at ease in its castle,
And grateful poor at the gate.

Tell them that peace
Is the hauling down of flags,
The forging of guns into ploughs,
The giving of fields to the landless,
And hunger a fading dream.
-Brian Wren

Isn’t peace, by definition, honorable? I guess it depends on your dictionary.

History is a dialogue between
Forward and backward
Going inevitably forward
By the misuse of words

Now the function of the word is:
To designate first the machine,
Then what the machine produces,
Then what the machine destroys.
Words show us these things not only in order to mean them
But in order to provoke them
And to incorporate us in their forward movement:
Doing, making, destroy or rather
Being done, being made being destroyed.
Such is history.

The forgotten principle is that the machine
Should always destroy the maker of the machine
Being more important than the maker
Insofar as man is more important than God.
Words also reflect this principle
Though they are meant to conceal it
From the ones who are too young to know.

Thus words have no essential meaning.
They are means of locomotion
From backward to forward
Along an infinite horizontal plane,
Created by the history which they themselves destroy.
They are the makers of our only reality
The backward-forward working of the web
The movement into the web.
-Thomas Merton.

No comments:

Post a Comment