Familiar story. 1948 terrorises both Israelites and Palestinians, the colonial gift that keeps on giving. Spent last night at the Pillars of Light in Fed Square with the Jewish community and the pain was palpable. Speaking to my Muslim friends and the pain is palpable. Speaking with my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, the pain is palpable.
It is the same pain. And it is the same forlorn hope that somewhere in this world we will find the courage to make peace. Not romanticised peace, but real peace. Not ceasefire with the right to begin again, but peace that doesn’t end.
Unfortunately peace is, as activist John Dear said, more costly and more difficult to do than war. It requires courage, self-giving, deep forgiveness and hard, bloody hard work. It means that the war machine that manufactures death no longer calls the shots, supports the economy, provides the jobs. It means we do not take sides, provide arms, utter inane words of avoidance, and fail to deal with our personal and corporate complicity in the maintenance of genocide and destruction.
We know how hard peace is, Australia rejected the steps to peace in this country on the 14th October. And the genocide continues.
We are in no position to school others on how to do peace. We failed. We are in no position to school others because we sell arms and military collateral to the highest bidder, we stand with the colonial powers who manipulate violence and we refuse the victims of the violence we are apart of, entry to our country.
We are part of the problem, not the solution.
In the season of Christmas we sing “Peace on earth, goodwill to humanity” and we are no closer now than when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born.
Is Peace possible? Arguably there has never been a time in which the whole world has been peaceful. Somewhere there is always violence. James Hillman argues that we are addicted to violence and war. Peace is but the interlude between one war ending and another beginning. It never lasts, nor do we want it to. War gives meaning, identity, purpose. War provides jobs, income and prosperity. War drives change. War is integral to life.
No, peace is not possible and holding out the romantic concept of hope is cruel and mischievous. There is no hope. Like the carrot dangled before the donkey pulling the cart, it is always out of reach, promising but not delivering. Christian hope is just as forlorn, a gimmick to keep us in our place, striving but not arriving in the Promised Land of belonging. It is the promise that when we die all will be well. That’s too late and not a promise at all. It is a threat.
There is no hope for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice for our people in this country after October 14 and none for peace in the Middle East after October 7.
This is the reality we are challenged with. How we respond will be crucial and require us to move away from the weasel words and profane slogans of the status quo and reimagine a new world where hope is birthed in the present and peace is our vocation.
Should be interesting!