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March for Peace
read in Macedonian


Last week, and according to reports, thousands of Macedonians of all ethnicities marched for peace in Skopje.  Good for them.  My guess is that most of them missed the point however.

According to news agency UPI, organizers told the rally “We are for peace! We want to live with each other, not next to each other!”  Well, that’s all very nice and good.  And a bit perplexing.  Let’s take the first statement “We are for peace.” Well, who isn’t?  It’s a bit like stating “I’m for clean air and clean water.” Of course you are.  So on its face, the phrase “we are for peace” is really empty.  But look deeper.  What do people really mean when they say “we are for peace?” For most, peace is an absence of war, an absence of conflict, an absence of strife.  But peace is much more than this.  To find out, keep reading.

Now let’s look at the second statement.  “We want to live with each other, not next to each other.” I understand the meaning but really, it conflicts with the first.  So you want peace but you’re not willing to work hard to achieve it?  You want peace but you’re not willing to work with your neighbor – who you really don’t like, let alone love?  That does not make sense.  And you can’t have it because it is impossible to achieve.

Another and again according to UPI: “Organizer Ana Jovkovska told Tanjug the event was organized to show that many Macedonians want to live together with other ethnicities. ‘We want pacifism, love, friendship and we don’t want violence and manipulations.  We have had enough of political games because we want to live together in peace.’” I’ll take issue with Ana over the statement that “we want pacifism.”  The reason countries must have standing armies is because a lot of people in the world are not pacifists and the history of the world is about conflict and conquering.  There are people out there who want to kill us (radical Islam is but one example) and we cannot afford to be pacifists.  Otherwise, we will be dead pacifists.

Moving on.  According to other media outlets, there were “performances by musicians from all ethnicities and the atmosphere set by the sounds of John Lennon’s famous peace song ‘Imagine’ and Bob Marley’s ‘One Love.’”  I’ve always hated the song Imagine.  And all for the lyrics.  Have you ever stopped to consider them?

Lennon asks us to imagine a world with no heaven, hell, countries, religion or possessions.  He asks us to “imagine all the people living for today” and to “imagine all the people of life living in peace.”   “Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”

If we’re going so sit around in a circle holding hands and singing impossible songs then why not sing about everyone being rich?  Or good-looking?  Or athletic?  The hard, cold, brutal fact of life is that because of mankind’s rejection of God, there is sin in this world and because of that there exists all of this strife in the world: hunger, greed, theft, lying, war, murder, robbery, rape, you name it. Sitting around singing songs about it being not existing does nothing to eliminate it.  It’s a bit like squeaking “we are for peace!”

Now, I don’t mean to belittle those who participate in marches for peace or any other event that promotes peace.  These are fine, but too many people participate in these events thinking that their mere participation in them will help.  It will not.  And then they believe, wrongly, that peace means the absence of war and conflict when what peace really means is something much more meaningful, much deeper, and much more fulfilling.

In the Old Testament book of Psalms 85:10 we read “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” The writer is telling us that peace is the result of righteousness and that love and faithfulness work to produce righteousness.  In other words, you cannot have peace without first having righteousness.  And you can’t have righteousness if you don’t have love and faithfulness first.  And what is the second greatest commandment?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This principle is found in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Old Testament being Holy Scripture to Jews and Christians and a literary work to others which the world’s three monotheistic faiths can look to.

If we are truly interested in achieving peace in this world – and here I mean not only the absence of war but also the harmony, tranquility and freedom from discord among nations and neighbors – then we must pursue righteousness first.  And we can only have righteousness if we first love our neighbors as ourselves.

More on what it means to love your neighbor next week.

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Jason Miko
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