Making Peace in a Violent World

Reflection on several scenarios of violence in our world

Down My Road

I'm willing to pass by on the other side
Like a priest or a Levite,
Though I say let them die with him,
We'd be better off without them,
But the man from Nazareth in Galilee
Tells a story about the Jericho road
And the stranger from Samaria
Who moves into the story
To become his hero and mine,
Though the man on the side of my road
Still lies wounded, unless I do my bit
By walking out of the story to care for him
And make peace with priest and Levite.
After all I'm both of them myself.

(Some scholars accuse the gospel writer, Luke, of anti-semitism.)

The Anatomy of Difference

My tribe; my clan; my people and me;
Our faith, our denomination, our church;
Let us be on top,
After all, we've been robbed:
Our lands, our country, our way of life,
They're advancing, we're not.
Muslim from the north,
Christian from the south,
Catholic here, Protestant there,
One's very liberal, the other evangelical.
These differences give me a headache.
Can we not just live together?

I long for the days when peace reigned
And for when it will be restored.

(Inter-religious conflict)

Brotherly Love

Same mother, same father,
Brothers from the same womb,
Yet sons of thunder
And not for nothing  they called us that.
Envy in rivalry; one up, the other higher,
Each looking for the approval of another,
Like Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac,
Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers.
One has to be first, the other second,
So let one be on the left, the other the right
Of the peacemaker,
Though I hope he doesn't treat us equally
Because I don't care for peace with surrender
So let strife continue.
(Some describe Israeli-Palestinian conflict as sibling rivalry)

Blame the British - they drew a line on the map,
Now translated onto soil and rocks, lands and fields
That became the mayhem of us and them
Slaughtered in the slash and grab of looting,
Our blood and theirs soaking the soils of earth
So that the stories are told and retold
Of who did this and who did that,
Or what the Prophet or Shiva,
Let alone the Galilean might say
About us, locked in the hatred of history,
Wanting to outwit each other
As we stare across a border
Naked eye, or through a gun-sight
Levelling up a cousin before pulling the trigger.

(The legacy of the 1948 partition of India and Pakistan lingers)

The Gang

Alone, and bored out of my mind,
So give me the excitement of the streets.
Dad played cowboys and Indians;
We go for the real stuff,
Dagger in the back pocket
Looking after each other,
Protecting our turf,
Until the law catches up with us
And I find myself behind bars,
Lucky to be alive
But getting ready for more.
Or is it time for me
To make peace with myself
And chat to dad about cowboys and Indians?

(Street gangs and knife-crime – what can we do about it?)
Death in the Family

He prefers another man;
She loves a woman -
Ultimate abomination of privacy!
Our scriptures seem to condemn it
And therefore them,
So uphold the sentence,
Apply the death penalty;
Get rid of him -
There's one less of them around.
But my peace of mind is disturbed
As I mourn his passing in silence
For he's my son,
So I need to go back to the Book
Seeking comfort and a better way.

(Violence against LGBTIA people remains significant,
and especially in the 72 states classified as 'criminalising')

August 2017