War and peace – a protracted struggle

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, August 28, 2014


THIS year we remember that the First World War broke out 100 years ago. Twenty-five years later the Second World War with Nazi Germany broke out.

Ever since, war has become a world-wide phenomenon. Hundred of nations all over the world got involved in war. War is seen as a way of solving conflicts between nations. We never learned from our mistakes in the past.

Today there is war in the Oekraine. Russian President Putin gets a lot of support from his countrymen because with this war he wants to return again to Russia its supremacy over the Balkan territories which they lost after the Second World War. There is the war in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian people. The terrorist organization Hamas gets all the support from Israel. No end of the war is in sight. People who want peace are called naïve, cowards or weaklings. Violence is openly recommended.

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When will we ever learn? There is a saying: there is no road to peace, peace is the road. Is this only a pious belief which only rich people from the West can afford to have? But there are plenty of examples wherein revolutionary change took place through active-non violence.

Here in the Philippines during the martial law years, the NPA used armed struggle in order to effect a revolution. I myself sympathized with the NPA because I thought only through armed struggle we can get rid of Marcos. But at EDSA Marcos was ousted. This was a people’s revolution through active non-violence. Now the NPA believes that this was not a revolution and they continue the armed struggle against a democratic government. They are fighting for a dictatorship of the proletariat. Of course, that is an illusion. According to the Marxist ideology armed struggle is a protracted struggle. Revolutionary change is an ongoing process. Active non-violence is indeed a protracted struggle but armed struggle shouldn’t be.

Other examples of active non-violence struggles are: the independence struggle in India and Pakistan from Great Britain and the end of the apartheid-regime in South Africa. In all these situations violence was used also, but the change was not the result of that violence. The opposition of Gandhi in India and that of Mandela in South Africa was without violence but it was really a tough struggle. Against the brute force of their opponents they followed a well thought-out strategy through which they initially became the moral winners and after a long time also the political winners in the struggle.

The vision of the Prophet Isaiah of everlasting peace in all these cases is still far away. We still have to learn how to fight in order to achieve everlasting peace.

The struggle according to the liberation theology of Gustavo Gutierrez has been looked upon with suspicion by the Church and even by Francis before he became pope.

The poor have to struggle with strong determination in order to liberate themselves from oppression and exploitation from the rich. Countries in the West have the so-called fair trade movement. Out of solidarity with oppressed farmers in the underdeveloped world, people in the developed world buy their products.

The coffee planters in Mexico can sell their coffee in the developed world for reasonable prices. Again, that is a non-violent movement, a movement of compassion and solidarity for people which can bring peace to a world of poverty.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 28, 2014.

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