We say “peace”… what we really want is a “piece” of the pie

“Peace in the Mideast” is a slang term meaning goodbye.  And by peace, many Western people seem to mean the cessation of bloodshed. Which is a far thing from actual peace. When there is a little bit of unrest, when the calm is broken, many people start praying, hoping and wishing for peace. I pray, hope, and wish for quite the opposite. I want the revolution to continue.

Graffiti in Beirut, Lebanon

“I am a revolutionist by birth, reading and principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.” – Mark Twain

Currently there is not peace in the Mideast. But the bloodshed due to recent protests in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere is just a surface indication that there is not peace. And therefore it is not bad news to me. I do not wish for violence, but absence of violence does not mean peace.

The newspapers might report calm, but freedoms and true peace for a population does not equate with such surface tranquility. These good things come through struggle. I pray for this true peace, which generally means we will see bloodshed first, and often the blood of the peaceful protestors.

In most cases, calm is actually an indication of suppression: either by the gun (like in Syria) or pacifying of the populace by the pleasures of materialism (the Gulf). The calm in neither of those two cases indicates freedom, even if the second option is more or less what we have (tragically) come to view as freedom in the West.

When we see protest, that is usually an indication that things are moving in a direction. That people are thinking and speaking and demanding and working that their society be a better place. To me this is a good direction. Especially good because the protest methods generally used since the Arab Spring have been peaceful. It is the regimes who have used violence in return.

In the morning when I see news of blood of protesters being shed again and I am encouraged. The people have not been beaten into submission by the regime’s desperate and violent tactics. They have come out again to air their grievances, knowing that for some of them the price will be their lives. It is worth that much. These people are true heroes, doing what is necessary for their nation, for their country, for us all.

When there are deaths and bloodshed, it is indeed very sad. But since life is so valuable, that is why the actions of those willing to accept death are so powerful. It signals to their countrymen that the cause is felt deeply, and their sacrifice resonates with all who hear about the killings. This makes the regime more fragile.

So when we see violence, we at least we know the people in that place see the great value in standing for a cause and are getting close to some change. The alternative–no news and business as usual in the dictatorship–generally indicates not peace, but rather something darker and even worse than bloodshed.

“Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.”- Victor Hugo

“If you want peace, work for justice” -Paul VI

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” -Thomas Jefferson

[nb post title paraphrased from KRS-ONE lyric]

Big Brother Bashar, the ironfisted ruler of Syria, is displayed publicly and prominently across the country–here in an office building


About zoomloco

I zoom-zoom loco like the pony express.
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5 Responses to We say “peace”… what we really want is a “piece” of the pie

  1. beth says:

    As a child of the Cold War, I prayed every single night and often in the day for peace. I couldn’t understand war. I didn’t get it – couldn’t imagine why it was ever necessary. As an adult, I appreciate the need for revolution – the need for rising up and pressing against. But the child in me – for the children I love – can’t understand why any human must be sacrificed in order for others to live . . . I can’t imagine what those mothers endure . . .

    • zoomloco says:

      Hi Beth, thanks for sharing. I think the Cold War is a good example of this–for 50 years there was not bloodshed but there was not peace either. People lived in fear on both sides. Lithuanian protestors–and millions of other across the Balkans and across the Soviet sphere risked their lives to make their voices known in protest to change the system. There was bloodshed in ending the Cold War (in Lithuania only, as the USSR troops killed a dozen or so civilians at the Vilnius TV tower) but it brought a better time when both the West and the Russian sphere would live without fear of Nukes. The bloodletting–which was terrifying from firsthand accounts people told me– was also a signal that in fact times were changing–or really, about to change. So as horrible as it is for those friends and families who lost loved ones, it also brought hope to their nation and the world.

  2. Scott Hall says:

    Excellent essay, Ben. I agree that the revolutions have been long overdue. Rulers that were put in place or held a coup to attain power not long after Europe left the region were long overdue in their retiring. They were propped up partly by oil revenues from selling to the West, depending on the country. For Libya, at least, let us hope that these resources are put to good use in their homeland. Perhaps the some day we’ll remember the Arab Spring when observing the African Awakening.

    I hope the Palestinians have been watching the general flow of the Arab Spring. Peaceful protests led to worldwide outrage when the protests were violently put down. If this cycle happened in Palestine, then Israel might finally find itself with no friends left to tolerate its brutal oppression there.

  3. tiffany says:

    Hey… although i am not as knowledgeable about the middle east as I would like to be, your blog really made me think about my position. I really liked the quote from Mark Twain because it encourages me to consider who is fighting these wars and in turn who is being oppressed. Looking at these individuals as heroes, changes my perspective on the issue. So often, I feel powerless here in San Diego since I am so removed from all of the turmoil. However, from your essay I come to realize that my voice is still important and that the peace that I always pray for may not be the best solution.

    I am glad we are facebook friends now 🙂

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