“Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.”
Rainbows are multicolored arcs that appear when sunlight illuminates little drops of airborne water. They can be seen when sunlight from behind an observer illuminates water droplets in front. After a sunbeam enters a water droplet, it hits the back of the droplet and is partly reflected. Due to their different wavelengths, the different colors of the sunbeam exit the water droplet at different angles and a rainbow appears. The colors of a rainbow show the visible color spectrum of sunlight from violet in the inner ring to red in the outer ring. The second arc of a double rainbow shows the colors reversed.
Rainbows are optical illusions and not objects with a distinct location. The sun, the water droplets, and the observer must be in a specific lineup for a rainbow to be seen. Different observers will see different rainbows depending on their location.
“Imagine all the people, living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”
Imagine, John Lennon, 1971, from the album “Imagine”
Naïve I was, dreamer I am. Improving the lives of people where there is need has become just another item on the to-do-lists again. When facing the realities of terror, nations respond with violence, again. The attackers won. Why do we obviously still believe the use of violence would lead to less violence? Why do we think others should follow rules we do not follow ourselves? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in the right of self-defense. But there is a difference between self-defense and self-justice.
Last summer, a young man killed nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. As different as this shooting was from the recent shootings in Paris, they are all acts of violence and terrorism. What struck me most in the aftermaths of these horrible events was the response of the people. In Paris, Davide Martello set up his piano—adorned with a peace sign—outside of the Bataclan theatre and played John Lennon’s “Imagine”. In Charleston, people showed forgiveness towards the attacker and unity when faced with an attack intended to divide.
Using violence is not a sign of strength, using violence is a sign of weakness. Strong are they who respond with love when facing evil.
“All Wars are Follies, very expensive and very mischieveous ones. When will Mankind be convinc’d of this, and agree to settle their Differences by Arbitration? Were they to do it even by the Cast of a Dye, it would be better than by Fighting and destroying each other.”
Benjamin Franklin in an unpublished letter to Mary Stevenson Hewson on January 27, 1783, in: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
By now you have probably found out that I like quotes. What sometimes drives me mad though, is that very often what troubles us today is nothing new to our generation. Instead generations before us, sometimes even going back well before the current era, have been dealing with the same problems. And even worse, people have made suggestions on how to solve these problems.
What I find most disturbing at the moment are the many wars on this planet; some of which have been going on for quite some time, others for not so long. Especially troubling I find the war in Syria. Everybody willing to take a closer look can see all the ugly sides of wars there. Benjamin Franklin’s words uttered well more than 200 years ago, are unfortunately still up to date.
But I am also hopeful. Still. And in spite of what I have said before. Because something is different now. There is an exodus of people from the war-stricken regions in the mid-east. And they not only look for refuge in nearby countries, no, they are willing to risk their lives to find a safe haven in Europe, where fortunately, most people nowadays know wars only from TV. Countries en route as well as the countries of refuge are facing problems new to them, especially in that scale. And maybe, maybe this will start a process of rethinking war and the price it comes with in the political classes. Hopefully this will eventually result not only in the realization of the truth of Benjamin Franklin’s words, but also in actions to stop this senseless killing of people and the destruction of every possibility for the survivors to make a living, not even talking about making a living in a healthy environment.