IT'S heartening that efforts to forge a peace agreement continue. It's always heartening when people, especially government, would opt for peace.
But at the bottom of this all is the question: Who prescribes peace?
For as long as peace is negotiated with gunbattles merely held at bay, there will be no assurance of peace, and that is a sad reality.
True, the leaders of the armed groups can always opt to sit down, but if deep in their hearts, they still hold on to the armed option, then nothing will ever come out of any negotiation. There is indeed truth in President Rodrigo R. Duterte's statement that the resumption of peace talks between government and the communist rebels is up to the communists.
It's a given order: government protects its people, and the armed forces are there to do this task. Anyone armed who preys on its people are fair target.
But does that mean we will just give up this elusive peace to people who do not seem interested in it?
We can always make our own peace by speaking only of peace and raising our children with peace foremost in their minds. This cannot be done when we regard as normal communities being armed, much like many communities in Mindanao are. We cannot claim peace if we allow "rido" to continue among our people. We cannot aspire for peace if we regard gunfires as normal. While indeed, we may not have much over the trigger-happy, we have influence over those in our families, especially, children.
Indeed, we are a long way from achieving peace, but we only have to continue doing our own small contributions as the world continues to bring about people who can think about spraying bullets on masses of people like what happened in Vegas and many other instances of mass killings in the United States. We continue to hug our children and teach them to appreciate the joy of loving and sharing and not hurting. Because, that is how we can achieve real peace.
“O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Holy Quran: 2, 208)
“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 48)
"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else." 1 Thessalonians 5:15
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
It's been said in different ways, but all are saying the same. Peace begins from within.