Monday, November 26, 2012

Peace on Earth

One of the great dreams of peace lovers everywhere was that the United Nations would be the way toward understanding between nations and the evidence shows that it has helped; but the great challenge today has to do with internal conflicts in so many nations on earth.
by Charlie Leck

This morning’s NY Times displayed an unsettling photograph on its front page. A large and aged cargo truck was jammed with citizens of the Northern Kivu Province of the Congo and someone on the ground was handing up a nearly naked baby to be added to the crush of people seeking to escape the violence that wracks their nation. Over the last several weeks rebels have taken control of Goma, Kivu’s capital. Another photo that heads the story of the violence in the Congo shows a boy (of ten or so) in a hospital bed, recuperating from a gunshot wound he suffered when the rebels took control of Goma.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo — The lights are out in most of Goma. There is little water. The prison is an empty, garbage-strewn wasteland with its rusty front gate swinging wide open and a three-foot hole punched through the back wall, letting loose 1,200 killers, rapists, rogue soldiers and other criminals.”

The fierce and troubling wars of our times are happening within nations as they struggle for a semblance of freedom and the kind of human rights that you and I know in this country. We forget – most of us do, anyway – how rare are such rights to free speech and free assembly around the world.

We concentrate on the well-told stories of civil unrest in Syria and Egypt and forget about places like the Congo (I hesitate to call it by its established name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Joseph Kabila is the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and he is quite universally despised.  Riots are commonplace all across the nation – in places with names we’ve heard nothing or very little about over the years – in Bukavu, Kinshasa, Butembo, Kisangani and Bunia.

Billions of dollars of aide have poured into the Congo for peacekeeping purposes. In spite of the funds, the nation has descended into a frenzied and uncivilized place. The Congo is essentially ruled by various criminal organizations, each headed by classic godfathers who are at war with each other over pieces of turf that these criminal organizations want to control.

And, the United Nations seems helpless in its efforts to solve this violence. There are no central leaders or diplomats with whom to negotiate – no governments with which to plead for mercy.

The Congo is only one of the places where such internal unrest is threatening the lives and sanity of peoples who live there… there is also the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Burma, Somalia and Libya. It is a volatile world right now and it is frankly more than the United Nations can handle.

If you think it is petty to pray for peace, God help us all! This is a time for peace-keepers and for great thinkers to find ways out of this chaos. It is time for all of us to pray for such peace-keepers.

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