A child crawls on the mud strewn ground, his ribs jutting out in sharp relief, distorting the light of the harsh Somalian sun that beats down, parching the land dry; he looks around for his mother. There she comes, carrying a tiny package in her burnt brown hands, to lift up her child; he weighs less than a bird now, and he won’t eat. She balls up grains of rice, pushes them against his lips, and he tries, then fails. In a land where twelve million lay starving, what’s one child? How much difference does one tiny beating heart make? The answer is: all the difference in the world.
A narrow alleyway in Libya, the pavement cracked and threaded, broken by the combat boots that have marched over it. A terrified teenager stands hidden, shadowed in the ruins of a crumbling wall, watching the trigger being pulled. They have guns. Not one of them, not two, but all. He walks a little way, his heart slamming into his chest as he sneaks; his foot feels something soft beside it and he looks. It is the corpse of a man: blue lipped, open eyed, frozen gaze. Flies have already made their home in his hair, maggots’ strain to infect his ears. The teenager stares incapacitated, struck with the horror of what is called a ‘civil’ war; he hears a movement, whirls around, and finds himself face to face with the mouth of a gun. The shot echoes in the tiny alleyway. Is he at peace? No, for that is worlds away.
A rainbow: sparks of green, blue, red, and yellow, dancing around a prism, spinning a seductive halo. A jagged chunk of glass; what is unseen are the pools of blood wasted to get it. Blood Diamond. They climb out of holes in the earth, the mines like gaping mouths to swallow them whole. Day and night are mixed as men, women, and children lose sweat and blood digging for gems. A tiny piece of stone, worth so many lives. Sierra Leone boasts the most human rights violations globally. Diamonds stained with blood. A wastage of so much life; they protest peacefully in their hearts, and pay with their lives.
He stands alone, his khaki uniform making him look official; it is what he has been wearing for days. In the last week alone, he has seen over five hundred people being killed, slaughtered by their neighbors and friends and relatives. He has to pretend to be Muslim, for the area in which he lives practices the faith. If they knew he believed in Christ, in his Savior, he wouldn’t have a heart left beating. They would rip it out of his chest and grind it to pieces. In a country where religion decides between life and death, he has learnt to keep his mouth shut the hard way. Where can a man practice his own faith?
Peace isn’t just in Africa, or India, or the Middle East: it’s global. It expands to cover every aspect of every land we walk on. Peace is in people. So often, global issues go unnoticed because so many of us fail to see the human aspect to them. We don’t think about the horror that humankind has to face: it’s convenient to stay in a cocoon, sheltered and ignorant. Because who wants to see the slack jawed corpses that line the streets of Sudan? Or the corruption that has seeped into the political system of Pakistan? Or right here in the Middle East, where migrant workers slave away, living twenty-hour workdays in dusty, unclean labor camps? So many of us don’t think of these people; just because they are silent doesn’t mean they don’t talk.
Peace is having the ability to feed your children; it is the contentment that comes when you put your feet up after a long day; it is peaceful to know you have a voice, to know you belong, to know you are not invisible; peace is inside you and outside you at the same time; it is the freedom of knowing you can call out to Allah, or Christ, or Ram, and not be persecuted; peace is having the power to wield a gun and calmly take someone’s life, and choosing not to; it is not having to cry for help, but receiving it at the same time; peaceful are those who can feel autonomous, independent; it means having a home you can call your own, whether it is a mansion, an apartment, or a small piece of open land; peace is having freedom, mind, body, or soul; peace starts at home, right along with charity, generosity, and compassion; one riyal/rupee/dollar can spread peace; starting small, starting somewhere, being at peace in your mind; helping someone else with no matter what, giving them peace: this is what I call peace.