Monday, 27 May 2013

Peace is easy when neighbours don't spill blood.

It's easy for Canadians to talk peace. No one within a day's walk or even a day's drive has ever killed an uncle or a sister or a buddy of mine or even a great great grandmother of mine.  It's easy to pooh pooh revenge and want the peoples of the world to make nice with each other, to just get along.
In Syria last month.
Syria and Iraq, the Congo and Burma, Egypt, Serbia, and Lebanon are more like the majority where communal violence has destroyed the lives of many people who live within walking distance of each other. There's no sweetheart fix, no kiss the booboo so the cut won't hurt.  Men who have cruelly slaughtered, burned and beheaded their neighbours have gotten away with it, and seen their children's children.  How do we get a second chance to live in harmony?

The basic cure is death.  The people who remember the evil done will pass away in time and anger subsides.  Another basic cure is sex.  Over time, the outliers of hostile communities are attracted to one another and get pregnant. (Romeo and Juliet wed instead of suicide.) The edges between the groups get fuzzy.  Raising children from dual cultures is tough on the kids but makes bridges between enemies.

The third cure is transformative faith.  Sometimes people of great difference will unite behind an idea that outweighs their cultural baggage.

The famous closet
A fourth cure is a transformative environment where the rules all change.  One example is the discovery of new largely-unsettled lands like North America where far-flung cultures often settled down as neighbours.  (Kirkland Lake was an international town where your neighbours spoke a different language at home than your own family.) Another is the discovery of new technology that easily links disparate folk for pennies a day. That's your basic smartphone, and everything else waiting to spill out of Fibber McGee's closet.  Maybe the next century will have off-earth settlements.

I used to think politics would make a difference.

If you're in a hurry for peace, expect to be gravely disappointed.
But don't give up.
Besides, a little conflict is necessary to test things.

Added: Nearly three hundred years after the Battle of Culloden and the effort to hunt down Bonnie Prince Charlie by the English (Catholic Jacobites) allied with Scottish Lowlanders (The Campbells), my dear sweet grandmother that wouldn't hurt a fly had a hard spot in her heart for both lots.

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