There was a time in human history when torture and even murder were offered up as forms of popular entertainment. As hard as it might be to believe, with so many violent acts being amplified by media attention, we are living is an age that is more peaceful than any in human history. The belief in a “good old days” when people were safe and secure is a myth. Christmas is a good time to remember the life that began “away in a manger” ended up nailed to a crucifix.
War and violence often grow from our ideas of good and evil. The most rational excuse for violence is that it is an effective way to stop the spread of evil. Good and evil are flexible concepts, and ones that evolve over time. Even the idea that there are good people and evil people seems primitive now. The best of us have done bad things and the worst of us have some redeeming features. It is beliefs that are good or evil, not people. We each have our own beliefs about what is good or evil but I think the distinction is a simple one:
Enjoying the pain of others is evil.
Helping someone to avoid, or overcome, pain, without expectation of reciprocity, is good.
There are many differences dividing us and encouraging anger and hate toward each other. If we can agree on only one thing – to resolve our differences peacefully – we will give future generations the opportunity they deserve, of a better life. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is an active process that requires vigilance, courage, and strength.
Peaceableness does not mean trying to disturb nothing or glossing over realities. It is the most profound kind of disturbance we seek to achieve. Nonviolence is not apathy or cowardice or passivity. And the fact that we want peace does not mean that there will not be opposition, suffering, social disorder.A.J. Muste