Peace is Impossible (DOP #24 2014)

It is easy to say peace.

It is easy to preach peace.

It is easy to promote peace.

It is impossible for our world to have peace.

I don’t make that statement lightly, but I also don’t make it as cynically.  I truly believe that global peace is impossible for our world.  A common theme in science fiction is a fictional world enjoys enough sociological advances that it finds its way to a peaceful existence, free of war and strife.  The inhabitants of the world speak of a time when they had war, before they were enlightened enough to stop fighting themselves.  Unfortunately, the utopia preached in fiction is just that, fiction.

It is impossible to have peace, because we are unable to separate ourselves from our desires.  We want something enough that we find a way to acquire it.  Even if it costs someone else their desire, we seek our own fulfillment first.  This is the natural way of things, and we have to consciously fight against this natural state if we hope to overcome it.  Not everyone is even willing to fight self-fulfilling desires for the sake of others.  Those of us who do attempt to be self-less, will find ourselves failing from time to time.

In spite of our best efforts, we are not perfect people.  Imperfect people are incapable of forming a perfect peace.  We will always need social structures to bring justice to those who have done wrong, we will always need corrective action to reform the world around us into something more closely resembling peace.  Peace is an elusive goal, one to be pursued with rigor by all of a like mind, but never attainable.  We will never succeed at creating global peace.

Our world is filled with wrong that can not be made right.  What remedy is there for the parents of the 140 students killed in a Pakistani school this month?  How can we set right that wrong?  How can we restore the innocence of Yazidi women taken as sex slaves to serve a perverted view of manhood?  Can you justly judge who should pay the price for the death of Eric Garner?  We can send our support to the Pakistani people, we can do our best to comfort the Yazidi women who have been raped.  We can even do our best to bring peace to family of Eric Garner, but we can not restore life to the lifeless, or erase the emotional and physical scars left on the bodies of young women taken from their homes.

Peace is outside of our power.  We can not achieve it.

The world has not yet learned how to judge correctly between two parties with equally legitimate claims to territory or resources.  Crimea, Palestine and Israel, the many countries in disputes over regions of the South China Sea should not expect the world to assist them in redrawing their borders.  Some of these conflicts can only be solved by force.  We should not be surprised when those times come.

Global peace is impossible.

Why have I wasted my time writing these articles you ask?  Well, I accept that global peace is impossible, but I believe wholeheartedly that individual peace can be pursued.  I can choose to set aside my selfishness in interest of serving you.  You can set aside your desires to help provide for someone else.  They can pay the good deeds forward for another, and the cycle can continue between individuals.  Where global peace is unattainable, individuals pursuing peace can make a difference to each other.

I also ultimately believe that this world will fall into darkness.  We will push ourselves over the edge and we will discover too late that we have gone too far.  We will near our end, but in the darkest moment, before we slip into a cold and eternal night, a light will shine in that darkness.  Our world will be reborn and made new.  When Jesus was born into our world 2,000 years ago, he was a herald of that rebirth that awaits this world.

Jesus made possible a peace we could have never imagined, restoring sinners and healing the broken.  By paying a price in blood to erase the deeds of man, he has secured a victory we could not have foreseen.  He has opened a way for Pakistani parents to forgive the murderers of their children.  He has paid the price to redeem Yazidi women from slavery.  Jesus has even paid the price for you and I to approach the throne in heaven from which all judgment is justly delivered, and to be found free of fault.  Jesus is an element from outside of our equation that has come to restore balance where no balance was possible before.

I also hold fast to the last words attributed to Jesus in the Bible.  “Behold, I come to make all things new.”

Though I do not know what exactly this newness will look like, I do know that I can trust the one who has promised it.

With Jesus, all things are possible; global peace, a restored world, and a virgin birth.  Tomorrow we celebrate that God is with us, and we remember his entrance into the world as a child.