“I am scrapping the peace talks with the communists,” President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared on the death anniversary of her mother, Soledad Duterte, whose tomb he visited at the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Davao City.
In his Facebook account, Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process, wrote: “If there is anyone who passionately dreams of — and works on — bringing about sustainable peace in the land, it is President Duterte. His judgement calls are directed towards this goal.
“At the moment, he has clearly spoken on the directions we all in government should take. Let’s take guidance from these recent declarations.
“As I always say, the road to just and lasting peace is not easy to traverse. There are humps and bumps, and curves and detours along the way. What is important is that we all stay the course.”
A few days earlier, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Rector was quoted as saying by Philippine Daily Inquirer: “It is never too late to give peace another chance. In search for a settlement, one must never tire of negotiation-fatigue.”
Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna concurred. “As peace advocates, we continue our call for the continuation of the peace process for the greater interests of our people’s quest to have a just and lasting peace in our country,” he pointed out.
Why is peace so elusive? “Peace is not the product of terror or fear,” pointed out Oscar Romero, a bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. “Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”
Peace is rare. Someone once said that less than eight percent (8%) of the time since the beginning of recorded time has the world been entirely at peace. In a total of 3,530 years, 286 have been warless. Eight thousand treaties have been broken in this time. “Peace, peace; where there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
American president Ulysses S. Grant wrote in 1868: “Let us have peace.” In 1955, Seymour Miller and Jill Jackson urged: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Even before that, when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, the angels chorused: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
But until now, peace is elusive as ever. Nobel peace prize winner Mother Teresa commented: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Dwight David Eisenhower pointed out: “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.”
Someone once said that without war, there is no peace. John Andrew Holmes, in Wisdom in Small Doses, penned: “Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.” Filipino national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, wrote in “Hymn to Labor,” “For our country in war, for our country in peace, the Filipino will be ready, while he lives and when he dies.”
It reminds me of a story I read a few years back. It goes this way:
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove. “Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said. “I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow – not heavily, not in a raging blizzard – no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off.”
After saying those words, the coal-mouse flew away.
The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for some moment, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
Even Martin Luther King, Jr. himself longed for peace. “One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal,” he said. “We must pursue peaceful ends throughpeaceful means.”
British singer John Lennon, when he was still alive, also thought of world peace. “Imagine there’s no heaven,” he sang. “It’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today. Imagine there are no countries. It isn’t hard to do: Nothing to kill or die for, no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
“Do you know what astonished me most in the world?” asked French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. “(It’s) the inability of force to create anything. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit. Soldiers usually win battles and generals get the credit for them. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.”
War, indeed, is not the answer. “I have seen war,” said American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.”
It is only when the war is over that peace can totally be felt. In Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Buried was the bloody hatchet; buried was the dreadful war club; buried were all warlike weapons; and the war cry was forgotten. There was peace among the nations.”
Is peace really impossible to attain?
“If you want to make peace,” said Moshe Dayan, “you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Martin Luther King, Jr. also said, “One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”
The peace we are longing for will really happen – not now but in the near future. The time for peace will come when, as the Holy Bible states so, “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spares into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).