We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Meaning of Peace

Mogadishu runners
Al Jazeera
Peace is a quality we can easily overlook and take for granted when it is built into everyday life.  In a relatively peaceful place like Lewis County, NY, life is fairly orderly, violence largely hidden and private, and the fields and forests instill a measure of quiet in a largely rural setting.  In spite of personal tragedies, noisy motor vehicles, some poverty, abusive relationships, and just plain human orneriness, it is fair to say that Lewis County is a relatively peaceful place.  We take the peace for granted and don't really think about all of the advantages relative peace gives us.  If we want to run, for example, we can run.

Until very recently, the Somali capital city of Mogadishu has not had this kind of quiet, daily, unobtrusive peace, but now things have changed—a state of affairs described briefly in a news posting at Al Jazeera's English-language website, entitled, "Fragile peace bolsters Somali Olympic hopes."   Mogadishu was a violent place where a small contingent of track & field athletes, runners, found it all but impossible to run, let alone train.  African Union troops now control the city, and a modicum of peace and order has returned.  For these athletes, that peace means they can run, train, and hope for a chance to compete in the Olympics in London.  Peace is a precious thing because it makes such things possible.