Asia Needs Peacemakers

by Benoit on Saturday, 02 September 2006 Comments
If I had a wish to formulate for Asia, it would be to witness the coming to age of a generation of peacemakers, of men and women willing and able to craft a new style of relationships between individuals or within families, as well as between ethnic groups and nations. Computer, financial or educational skills are all important for the future of Asia. Peacemaking skills may prove to be even more vital. Let us be reminded of what is at stake when it comes to relationships between Taiwan and Mainland China, North Korea and South Korea, India and Pakistan, ethnic and regional communities within Indonesia… First and foremost, Asia needs peacemakers.

"Happy the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God." (Mt 5,9) In the Biblical setting, peace is indeed a business of craftsmen, of people who mobilize their energy, their creative power, their mind, heart and imagination for the coming of a state of things - peace - that was not and is called to life. Peace appears in the heart of darkness, as light and life appear on God’s utterance, and the crafting of peace is one way through which humankind, created at God’s image and likeness, shares in the nature of its own Creator.

How can Peace be crafted, nurtured, promoted in Asia today? The sharing of a few convictions could help to enhance a culture of peace, of immense value for all those involved in such task.
- The first conviction is that it is in the very act of listening that new venues can be opened and new bridges built. At one stage or another, making peace means to be actively engaged in listening. I just pointed out that peacemakers are indeed makers, doers, craftsmen. But another aspect has to be kept in mind. Listening is the activity through which we accept to look beyond our own power of creation, through which we accept to go beyond our own dreams in order to be awakened to other people’s dreams. Listening is the only way through which a common dream finally takes shape. Peacemakers have first to reconcile in themselves the active and the passive side, and, in the act of listening, they give birth to the gift of peace, a gift that far transcends their own power - and nevertheless comes through them.
- The second conviction central to the building-up of a culture of peace is, put simply, that words matter. Leaders are too quick in trading promises or abuses. In any society, as in the international arena, the respect for the given word is the basis for dialogue and confidence. Dialogue, public discussion, honesty and clarity of language are not merely rhetorical tricks, they are the very basis on which peace and stability can be secured.
- Here is the third conviction: forgiveness shows more inner strength than revenge. Most features in Asian popular culture, especially movies, make one think than taking revenge is the ultimate proof of manhood. That men as societies need to experience forgiveness for healing and for renewal still remains an almost revolutionary message in the social and cultural context where we live.
- Fourth, inter-religious dialogue is conducive of peace. The religious riches of Asia are a wonderful asset, not an impediment, when it comes to the building-up of Peace. When religious communities learn to know and appreciate each other, they slowly develop the capacity to engineer common actions for social reform. For instance, in several countries of Asia, inter-religious contacts and appreciation are the ground on which a true environmental movement is developing. Religious dialogue provides the way to confront what might be the central question when it comes to Asia’s future: how can economic imperatives and humanist aspirations be combined into a creative social synthesis?
- Finally, peace is a creative process. Peace requires more inventiveness than war does. In the Asian context, inventiveness requires first to be able to slow down, to pause and reflect on past achievements and failures. Openly assessing one’s past is the prerequisite for inventing one’s future.

Peace and Justice are not abstract notions, their flourishing is part of a narrative that needs to be expressed and written down. Peace and Justice happen in space and time. Interpreting anew the quest for harmony typical of Asian culture, paying special attention to minorities largely deprived of their own identity, recalling countless stories of hardships, traumas, failures, survival and hopes, all of this contributes to the writing down of the narrative. Within the narrative, peace and justice take blood and flesh. Ultimately, the coming of peace and justice takes shape through little stories or events whose none knows the strength beforehand. Each of the words or of the initiatives that give meaning today to the words "justice" and "peace" in Asia are like the mustard seed in the field or the yeast in the flour. For the coming of Peace is about hope and reconciliation, sharing of goods, exchange of words, growth of fulfilling human relationships, it is about reconciling with the past, living the present at its fullest and dreaming together the future. Happy the dream-makers, one day they shall awake to see their dreams fulfilled beyond what they ever could have imagined.

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