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Norbert Bufka

Author  ·  Historian  ·  Bufka Books

Let there be peace on earth

 

With Christmas day now a memory, it is still important to reflect on the meaning of this day. Peace and harmony are at the heart of all the major religions, especially Christianity, whose source is called the Prince of Peace. . Unfortunately these sentiments are often lost in our everyday lives, even during this time of year. We destroy peace and harmony through environmental degradation, gun violence and acts of terror, fueling fear, and extreme ideologies.

Environmental Degradation

One of the ways we destroy harmony is through environmental degradation – the destruction of our land and the pollution of the air and water. We know that global warming is a reality but many choose to deny the human contribution to that warming. In a letter about our world, The Care of Our Common Home (Laudato Si),  Pope Francis emphasized that we have a responsibility to take care of each other and everything in the world. Yet we are largely responsible for the environmental degradation that exists all over the world-  pollution of our air, water, and land and adverse climate change. All of our human actions have caused disharmony with adverse effects especially on the poor. We are heading for global suicide, he said on his flight back from Africa in 2015.

Terrorism

Acts of terror have been occurring all over the world including the United States. Many of the perpetrators have been members of ISIS, giving reason for some to demean Islam and its adherents, but we must avoid this kind of . language. It is unfair and contrary to our American ideals of innocent until proven guilty.  Our president is a primary leader of demeaning Muslims.

we have our own brand of terrorism right here in this country under the name of mass shootings. A mass shooting is any incident in which four or more people are killed or injured by gunshot.  A gun proponent sent me information about how statistically low is the number of victims of gun shootings, but I would challenge him on the basis of this question. “How would you react if the victim was your child or grandchild?” I think the response might be quite personal rather than saying, “oh, it was all right. He was only one of .01% .”

Fear

Fear has been shamefully promoted by our leaders, especially after 9/11/01. As a result, fear clutches the hearts of so many people that it is nearly impossible to arrive at reasonable solutions or courses of action in the face of these mass shootings and other problems. It would be well for us to remember the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” “Be not afraid”, or similar words, are the most common phrase in the Bible. Unfortunately, our president loves to fuel fear in his audience.

Extreme ideologies

An extreme ideological stance guides so many people who are unwilling to compromise. They see compromise as a sign of weakness. They defend their positions as if they have been given to them directly by God.

Asubset of extreme ideologies is religious fundamentalism, which occurs in all the major religions. Any religion, which preaches and practices intolerance, hatred, and/or murder is not authentic and should be curtailed. Authentic religion is about helping each other in need, as the letter of James (1:26) says,  “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Let’s rise above the fears and ideologies so that we can work towards peace and harmony in our country and world. This work begins with you and me in our everyday living

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

A version of this blog appeared in the Midland Daily News on December 20, 2015.

 

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