Is peace imaginable even though it isn’t yet within reach? Is there a vision of what the other side of our current age of turbulence might look like?
The entwined German and Israeli flag lapel pin surprised me. Bigger shock; the lapel pin was on a German army officer’s uniform. I accosted the officer in our hotel lobby. Smiling, the officer explained.
“Israeli and German troops are colleagues. Training in Israel was the highlight of my career.”
Imagine. 70+ years ago Germany exterminated Jews and now they train together. Later, I hiked on the red soil of East Africa’s beautiful, peaceful Rift Valley. Imagine. 40+ years ago Idi Amin Dada took power and slaughtered Ugandans. 20+ years ago Rwanda was riven with genocide. Tourists on safari now watch big game roam where people once ravaged the land and each other. My mind whirled at the passing time and effort that healed three massacres with three reconciliations.
Peace isn’t evenly distributed and there’s never a guarantee of permanent peace. Peace is too big a miracle to expect in a world of escalating violence. Transforming societies post-genocide is not an overnight miracle. It’s many people working hard and forgiving the unforgettable.
Here’s my belief – no, more accurate to call it a prayer – as expiring 2014 bequeaths expanding war zones to incoming 2015:
History is dynamic; the future undetermined. People get exhausted with war, money for munitions dries up, governments change, dictatorships collapse, policy catches up with new realities, evil runs its course, and peace gets a chance. Unknowables include how long it may take and whether it’s minimal peace, or social justice with a real future.
At a personal level, would the cancer treatment that saved my life have been available if I lived in a war torn country? Probably not when resources are disproportionately budgeted to military over healthy people and environments, and education. Headlines in the global news include child soldiers, abducted girls, death from curable diseases, poverty, food insecurity, and many barriers to health and education. World-wide hatred, fear, distrust, and anti-Semitism abound.
And, in these amazing months of travel, I’ve seen resilient peoples rebound and offer a vision of what peace brings. Peace in East Africa has meant healthier children, opportunities for universal education, and awareness of environmental needs.
Since no war lasts forever, what sustainable vision of peace can we work for, each in our own way?
Girls go to school, women in cities attend university and achieve high positions at work.
Dr. Ida reviews the Impressive child immunization rates with Decker at a Healthy Child Uganda District Clinic.