Of peace and progress in the world
With the year 2023 still looked upon as ‘new’ amid global unrest that lingers from last year, it is worthwhile for the world as a whole to explore ways and means of reversing the misfortune of 2022. Last year, the world witnessed epoch-making events. They include the death of important persons and the eruption of wars with implication for global peace and human progress. It is to be noted that many philosophers have articulated the centrality of peace in human relations. Dalai Lama notes that, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge and through humane ways. Ralph Waldo Emerson says “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” For Wayne Dyer, “Peace can become a lens through which you see the world. Be it. Live it. Radiate it out. Peace is an inside job.”
The transition of global personages such as Queen Elizabeth II, Pele, and Pope Benedict XVI as well as the sorrows of war have engendered the need for sober reflection on the subject of peace and human progress.
The reign of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) was important to Britain. He passed on last year. Her reign was modernised by the dynamics of the global order. She was able to reconcile her reign with monarchical traditions. As U.S. President Joe Biden noted in his tribute, “She was one who defined an era, especially a constantly changing global order in which she acted as a stabilising factor with her steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her.” Her Majesty would be remembered for managing the image of her country and for accepting a multi-cultured society that Britain has become. Above all, as a constitutional monarch, she was not overbearing on political matters, and had cordial liaison with her prime ministers in ways that guaranteed domestic peace.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940—2022), better known by his nickname Pelé, was a Brazilian professional footballer, who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, he was ranked among the most successful and popular sports figures of the last century. Pele who scored for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games was synonymous with football. The latter is among the most popular games in the world. The game’s significance inheres in its psychological wealth. Divided nations are reconciled albeit momentarily by the game. It heals, and sorrows are overwhelmed by the boundless excitement that comes with the game. The world needs more of this healing balm of soccer.
Pope Benedict XVI (1927-2022) was a global personage who died on December 31, 2020. He had pastored the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013. His remains now lie in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica. The Pope, referred to as ‘a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord,’ retired from the Petrine ministry in 2013 due to ill-health, the first to do so in 600 years. His commitment to the gospel was encapsulated in his papal homilies, and his exemplary life. Pope Francis, his successor, gave “gratitude to God for having given him to the church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life. Only God knows the value and the power of his intercession, of the sacrifices he offered for the good of the church.” Those who credit him with laying the foundation for theological renewal have expressed the optimism that he “will be canonised someday.”
Pope Benedict was a scholar who surrendered his whole life to academic work in the process authoring about 1,600 theological titles, books, articles, essays and review. His significant bequeath to the faithful is his own reflection in a spiritual testament written in 2006 made public after his mortal passage. In it, he requested forgiveness from those he wronged, honoured his parents and siblings and exhorted Christians to “stand firm in the faith” in the face of postmodern intrusions. Benedict’s exemplary commitment, replicated at all levels will advance the good of humanity.
In 2022, the world was embroiled in various forms of crisis. In Africa, the contradictory dynamics of governance in Ethiopia led to a civil war between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and Tigray people’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This armed conflict partly due to the exclusive policies of the players at Addis Abba increased tension that resulted in open conflict from November 3, 2020 in which the TPLF and its alliance partners sought a regime change in Addis Abba with the hope of instituting a transitional government. However, a number of peace initiatives led to cessation of hostilities on November 2, 2022. The war involving several armed factions has been blight on the continent. The parties to the crisis have committed war crimes during the conflict: extrajudicial killings, routinised rape, and widespread famine culminating in a major humanitarian crisis. In the conflict, an estimated 385,000–600,000 people have been killed. To revamp the ravages of war will cost an estimated $20 billion. The war was unnecessary as Ethiopian constitution of 1994 provided an exit corridor for federating units that wish to opt out of the union. Besides, inclusivity in governance could have avoided a crisis that has gulped the country’s slim resources in the prosecution of war.
Back in 2014, the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine was overthrown through western meddlesomeness. The consequence was the suppression of the culture of the Russian speaking people of the Donbas area of Ukraine. The situation unleashed a flurry of dynamics that eventually led to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military on February 24, 2022. The crisis which has since blossomed into full-scale war with full western backing for Ukraine has unleashed on the corridor of Europe the bloodiest conflict since the end of World War II. The raging war has affected the export of grains and fertilisers, product of the two warring countries, to the rest of the world that is dependent on it. It has affected both the advanced countries of the global north and poor countries of the global south. It has also unleashed a wave of refugee crisis as well as economic woes in Europe. The crisis has engendered a spike in energy price to the detriment of the population. Importantly, the fear is rife that the war involving a nuclear armed state, could snowball into world War III and the global populace are reminded of the wise words of Albert Einstein, who once noted he does not know what the third world war will be fought with but sure that a fourth world war will be fought with sticks. The logic is that a third world war given the level of armament today will be disastrous for humanity. The money expended in the conflict could have transformed the impoverished in our world. It is not too late for a rethink.
In the run-up of activities towards the 2023 general election in our climes, it is important to work for peace and violence-free process. To sum up, war is never a solution; it will take man back to the pedestal of pre-history. The bloodletting that overwhelmed The Ethiopians and Ukraine in the course of last year is blight and a hedge to human progress. Peace is desirable and it is what our world needs. To be sure, the global community needs to draw lessons from the example of Pelé who gave joy to the global, Pope Benedict, a servant in the lord’s vineyard and Queen Elizabeth who devoted her life to the service of the British. Collectively, they brought happiness and hope to the hopeless.