As a member of the media, whose job is to inform people daily on matters like the raging-violence in Syria, the war-threats in North Korea, the terrorist-blasts in Pakistan, the protestor-clashes in Egypt, the suicide-bombings in Iraq, I often ask myself, where are we going wrong? Why don’t we give peace a chance? Why don’t we think clearly?
In the name of politics and religion, why are we throwing away reason and judgment?
Sometimes, I think of that line from Mark Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser: “O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason.”
Haven’t we? Otherwise, whatever the cause, however big it is, is violence and war a solution? I do not think so.
In this week’s Good Friday services, Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, when talking about “peace “ used a phrase that could be very rare from Vatican view point, “Muslim brothers and sisters.”
While on a platform overlooking the Good Friday procession route, he said he recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s 2012 visit to Lebanon when – according to the new pope – “we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion, joining Christians together in that land, and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others.”
Joining hands across the religious boundaries, I feel, is the need of the hour. Throwing away our ignorant prejudices and unfounded suspicions, of ‘others’, is the biggest challenge facing us today.
As yesterday was Easter, I find it pertinent to mention here that according to a gospel account, when Jesus suddenly appears to disciples in a room, where the doubting Thomas was expressing disbelief about resurrection, the first thing Jesus tells the group as he enters is: “Peace be unto you”.
In my many years in the Arab world, I have been greatly impressed by the greeting phrase “Salaam aleikum” which means the same thing: “Peace be unto you.”
Hoping and wishing for ‘Peace’ is now a critical aspect of our everyday living. Without it, one cannot enjoy anything else in life. Maybe, that is why, for ages now, this greeting is largely used.
It must be a hope not only for peace among governments, but also for peace among communities, races, religions, sects, states and individuals.
It is clear that when you wish someone with this phrase, you are acknowledging that ‘Peace’ is paramount. Our lives and success depend on it. But it should not be a mere phrase without any feeling.
The word ‘Islam’ itself actually means submission to God. But let us not forget that it has the same root word that also makes up the word, Peace.
It is obvious that ‘peace’ is what the human heart ultimately wants. But wishes for peace must be combined with actionable attempts.
Governments and Opposition parties must talk. Different ideologies must be discussed with main focus on an outcome for common good. Divergent view-points must be made to converge for the collective growth and success.
This seems to be the real need of Bahrain now. Expecting amicable solutions if two parties can sit across the table for a dialogue helps. But, it will happen only if all parties have a genuine desire for a united Bahrain, with a strong and robust economy that will benefit all.
Otherwise, words like ‘shalom’ or ‘salaam’ will remain only as words on our lips. They must – in spite of wide differences -become authentic embraces.