Hoping for peace and praying that we’ll eventually find it
Can we say anything to those in today’s world — anything that can offer us hope for peace in spite of all the seeming hopelessness we see all around us?
There are many places of worship and many preachers — of all kinds — no matter what they are called or what they preach. And there are many people seeking them out, trying to find the secret to their own inner peace, if not world peace at large. Not that peace is only found in such places or heard only from the lips of those who preach the word.
Some feel the need for praying to make their lives better; some prefer meditation; some prefer talking to those who might help them through their rough times and listening to what they have to say, kind of like those people might become their spiritual advisors. Some don’t know what will help them find their peace, but will forever keep on, hoping to find what they are looking for.
We know it’s hard to find that certain something that can’t even be named when there is war in the air, on the TV, on the news, and all about us, even if it is not our war. If any country is at war, we might say the world is not at peace. And if towns and schools in the United States are being shot up and destroyed, even if we are not in a declared war at home, we may live with a sense of fear that it could be our town or our school next.
And as though that sense of fear is not enough, there is actual violence all around us — in every part of the United States, and if it manages to bypass our own town, we still get to see it on the news: we cannot escape it. Someone is killed and becomes the focal point of the community, the town, and soon the whole country. The police become the enemy and even those who turned to the police for protection in the past now become part of those who rail against them, chanting words heard in the streets from those who wish to start a movement — a movement to kill the cops or defund them or take over the job that they do, further instilling fear in the population.
There are many different kinds of people in a country, but an easy way to classify them would be the good people—those who would or might fight to defend themselves and their loved ones, but would never attack for personal power or just to have their own way; and the bad people — those who would not hesitate to loot or steal, attack, hurt or kill others to get their own way or to accrue more power. And the good people most likely would always be good, but the bad people could have started out to be good, but got influenced by bad people (even their parents or any infamous characters they’ve read about or seen on TV or in real life).
Street violence and community violence that might start over one incident, perhaps involving one person and whatever law enforcement is on hand, quickly can turn into a situation involving the whole town and even other adjoining towns, and a few harshly spoken words — perhaps even misquoted from the first person to speak them — can take on the fervor of those hearing those words and repeating them until they become intense words of hateful passion aimed at a select group, such as the police, who now have become targets of hate because of the one or many that started the chant.
We have seen mindless hate take over towns, destroying communities almost as much as a war itself, destroying businesses that took years to build, and creating mass enmity toward whatever group is on the opposite side of the one that started throwing “the first stone,” or chanting the first words of hate, which acts are then quickly mimicked by those of like thought.
There is never any thought process involved; those who spew out words of hate and ugliness, enticing others to pick up the chant, wishing harm and even death to those they now perceive as their enemies, seem to rejoice in the chaos they have started and seem to revel in its continuation unto total demolition.
No one seems to notice or care that they have been destroying their very own neighborhoods and in doing so, are making life harder for themselves since their stores and businesses are being destroyed and ransacked, and maybe even some of their own have been injured or killed in the mindless melee they leave in their wake, to say nothing of encouraging youth to take all they can from any store that they can break into, creating the next generation of kids who learn that they can take anything they want from others and likely get away with it.
Nothing seems to stop this senseless, mindless, ugly, devastation that is wreaked upon otherwise peaceful towns and peace-loving people. Yes, those who are not on the side of the violators of their peace — in other words, those who start spreading the hate and demonstrate against everything good people like and want to keep — find it hard to understand the mindsets of those who just feel that taking anything they want, or destroying it if that is their preference, is their way of life and the road they choose to travel.
And then the youth of these communities grow up, and what have they learned? They learned they have feelings and don’t know what to do about them, so they do what they learned to do, from their parents, their leaders, their friends or their peers — to lash out, destroy things, speak evil into the air of the place they are attacking, gather others to take up the banner of their words to destroy and hate and make the most of their destruction.
Thank God every time we see such destruction we can be glad that it isn’t our town; we can be glad that no one who lives in our town would ever start up such a thing, and we might even turn off the TV from the news and pray for all the poor souls in the Ukraine (and we haven’t forgotten those who were left behind in Afghanistan either), and we might start praying that we will never face that kind of destruction, even praying for those we know who might’ve died at the hands of shooters in our own schools. We might take the time to think about all the misery we’ve had in our own country, calling it meditation if we can, giving ourselves some space in which to imagine a world at peace.
But if we can’t imagine peace, we may well end up with what we can imagine, and what we see every night on the news—people like Putin who have a desire perhaps to take over the world, one country at a time, disregarding all the lives, including those of little children, that must be sacrificed for him to achieve his goal, and maybe even recruiting more soldiers for his own army who have the beginnings of evil in their souls.
It shouldn’t take much to imagine peace, but perhaps only those who would be classified as good people can do it — because imagining peace means imagining goodness and a world where people can really see the value of practicing the golden rule and brotherly love.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.