At home, when my wife or children used to occasionally get into a tiff with someone, and wanted to use me as a sounding board, I would listen to their grievances, and then ask, “who wants to resolve that conflict the most?” That’s the person who will make peace first.
I wonder if this idea will fly on the world stage. Taking perhaps the most bitter dispute I can think of as an example of how this would work–the Israeli Palestinian conflict–here are my questions to each side for a peaceful resolution:
1. Are you willing to create and implement a win-win solution, at least in principle? It may not be possible but is it your goal?
2. Are you willing to concentrate on how things are now, in the present, and seek a solution that works for both parties now?
3. Are you willing to ask for forgiveness for wrongs you have committed and are you willing to forgive wrongs done to you?
4. Are you willing to sincerely question your own motives, assumptions and beliefs, and submit to correction when you are wrong?
5. Are you willing to first agree on general principles that will govern your solution, rather than fighting over particulars?
6. If you cannot say “yes” to all the previous questions, are you willing to agree to disagree on some points while finding others that you both agree on?
7. If all of the foregoing fails, then who has the biggest guns and the most willingness to use them? Because that is the next step.
So when you hear the words “peace process” don’t be terribly surprised when it blows up.
Let’s first visit with Charles Darwin, writing in The Descent of Man, as he gave his approval for the idea that”the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated” among “savages,” and disapproved of how civilized men “build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick, “with the result that “the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind.” Then, comparing man to livestock (which is still a big step up from amoebas) Darwin added, “no one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.” Darwin especially disliked how “the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members.”
Then there is Jesus Christ, in the book of Matthew 25:34-40. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Those crusaders for social justice follow whom?