World Day of Peace is celebrated on 1st of January. What is our response to the violence around us? A small action or a single word can have huge impacts on people positively or negatively.
I think of World leaders like Mahatma Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King in the United States; Nelson Mandela, in South Africa; and Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar, who made the changes they considered necessary without violence.
Violence happens not only in wars and conflicts, but in all situations in which people are abused, reducing their self-esteem and their self-confidence or self-worth, leading them to an experience of powerlessness. Failure to bring peace and fraternity is also a type of violence, as well as its passive acceptance and when we confuse violence with justice, considering it useful for society. Violence is not only against people, but also the depletion of natural resources, deforestation, environmental pollution and the extinction of species.
Bishop Thomas Menamparampil, who works for peace between the different ethnic groups in northeastern India, says: “Memory is not what happened, but what people felt”. If we trace the history of wars fought in terms of religions, races and ethnicities, we will see how each community of people felt and lived, individually and collectively, the memories of the effects of war. They hold negative memories indeed.
History is often written in a way that keeps negative memories alive and promotes prejudice. I believe that we need to heal our memories to build tolerance and be able to see the wealth of each person and in each culture and religion.
In the name of maintaining law and order, how much violence occurs in countries … It is ironic that the justice of one person is the injustice of another. One therefore seeks ‘just revenge’, and the other counter revenge. It is no wonder that the worst injustices, the most bloody and unjustifiable transgressions are committed daily in the name of justice.
In the past, weapons were manufactured to defend and protect themselves from the dangers of animals, but were soon used against their counterparts. Today, the war industry promotes war and bloodshed. A powerful nation is defined by its artillery, nuclear power and army strength.
I have a cousin in India who is a soldier. Once, when he returned from vacation, he presented his son with a toy gun. The boy was very happy to receive the gun and acted like a hero, shooting the family members as if they were the enemies, and they acted as if they were dying. I began to reflect and concluded that parents unconsciously become agents of violence. Many films also promote the horrible death of “enemies” in the hands of a hero. For children, the film is a reality, and the heroes are their role models.
“If we want to, use real peace in this world and wage a real war against the war, we will have to start with the children,” said Gandhi. They are creators of tomorrow. If a child grows up in a positive and loving environment, he will sow sympathy and love in the hearts of others.
I was captivated to see the bees buzzing and busy collecting nectar around the orange blossoms. Bees that fly from flower to flower accidentally transfer pollen and aid in procreation. We destroy life while nature promotes it. Animals kill other animals to eat, which is a natural law. It is not natural for them to kill those of their own kind. Only the human being kills his own species, and this has even become normal, but it should not be so.
What is our response to the violence around us? Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. A small action or a simple word can have positive or negative consequences. An ordinary person is forgotten when he dies, but a “great soul”, like Gandhi, is born in his death, creating a new dawn of hope. We can create a better life in the small world around us, with those who are part of our community, friends, family and people we work with by applying the law of love against hatred, jealousy, envy, revenge and enmity. “Love is the most powerful force the world has. At the same time, it is the humblest, that one can imagine”, Mahatma Gandhi.
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