Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 25, 2002
True peace does not exist on Earth
We like to tell ourselves we are Easter People, people of hope. We should not confuse this with the arrogance that comes with belonging to a dominant minority with bigger wallets and bigger guns.
Since the early missionary days, we have been in the comfortable position that we could back up our claims of possessing a superior religion with the superiority of our firing power.
It is not surprising then that Christianity became identified in the New World with Eurocentricity and all the negative baggage of colonial domination, post-Reformation division, and crude exploitation of native peoples.
To this day, the word mission has retained the connotation of plunder and coercion in certain Third World circles.
Instead of being harbingers of peace, our messengers have brought war, pestilence and injustice, mitigated only by the promise of eternal rewards.
These effects are with us still, and much of the unrest in the world is the outcome of our misunderstood zeal to subdue all of creation to our limited way of seeing things.
And so our prayers for peace continue, while our leaders approve billions of additional funds to prepare for war.
"The truth is," says bishop Pedro Casaldaliga of Brazil, "that real peace, the true peace that we hope for, does not exist on the planet at present.
"There will be no peace while the imbalances between the North and South, worshipped and applauded by neoliberal capitalism, continue to exist.
"True peace will only start when solidarity and justice demolish the wall between the North and South."
Our own bishops, in their January 2002 commentary on the global economy, Trading Away the Future, express similar concerns arising from the investor state mechanism of the North American Free Trade Agreement which would give corporations special rights to use secretive and unaccountable arbitration to challenge democratically-enacted laws.
They remind us that in 1998, rich nations, most of them nominally Christian, proposed an international treaty (MAI - Multilateral Agreement on Investments) allowing transnational corporations to invest in an almost unfettered way.
Quoting Paul VI, they warn, "All rights, including the rights to property and free trade, must be subordinated to the common good."
John Paul puts it this way: "If globalization is ruled merely by the laws of the market applied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot be but negative.
"These are, for example, the absolutizing of the economy, unemployment, the reduction and deterioration of public services, the destruction of the environment and natural resources, the growing distance between rich and poor, unfair competition which puts poor nations in a situation of increasing inferiority."
This is the sort of stuff that leads to conflict and outright war. Desperate peoples, shoved to the margins, tend to resist unjust measures which threaten the survival of their children.
Traditionally, the rich and powerful nations, institutions, corporations or individuals, have reacted to this popular unrest with draconian measures designed to intimidate and terrorize and thus perpetuate the cycle of violence.
So, 2,000 years after the first Easter, what do we hope for?
Eternal rewards? Continued affluence? Docility among the marginalized? Our own security? Peace in our time?
Or the magic promised by the free market that somehow the universe will unfold as it should?
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