As you may have noticed, world peace is not approaching fast - although there are bits of good news in the most surprising places. But as a whole the world has become hard to stomach some of the things going on.
I had the privilege of talking with a guy who fled the killing fields of Cambodia and ended up in NZ. Back in the days they arrived, I worked in a factory where a number of Cambodian refugees arrived. At the time I thought very little of it. If I had I might have asked more questions - and so learned more. Was the factory owner more able to identify than most because of his Jewish background? Just how bad was it for them trying to live their lives under Pol Pot? How could anyone treat humans so badly?
Three decades later I talked with this Cambodian, and made a comment about ISIS being worse that anything we'd ever seen. The gentleman did not get visibly upset, or rant and rave. But as he quietly said a few things, I realised how little appreciation I had of what I was talking about. He doesn't know it - but it had a major impact on my thinking.
I've been thinking about ISIS. Since people often seem to misinterpret words I say, let me state quite clearly I have no sympathy or respect for the way they treat people who disagree with them. As a Christian I am saddened by the way all religion (including Christianity) tends to come between God and humans - but their beliefs put other people on a lower level - and that is simply not acceptable.
When they blew up the Charlie Hebdo offices, I could see some rationale behind this. Again it's not something I'd ever condone - but these people were making fun of something important to others. Having come from a Christian culture, we see Jesus practising tolerance. Being in a modern hedonistic culture, we have been fed the virtues of tolerance - although as Orwell talked about language in Animal Farm, the word is often used these days to promote tolerance only to those who broadly agree with us rather than "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (Evelyn Beatrice Hall).
The first attack was aimed at those who had attacked first - albeit with words rather than actions. The second attack was different. It was to strike fear into any who disagreed, especially those in a nation who dared attack it. But it achieved several things that couldn't have been achieved any other way. The obvious example was the picture of Obama and Putin with their heads together. Such an image would have been unthinkable in the past. Similarly the Security Council passed a unanimous resolution without a veto. Finally an issue everyone regards as serious. If only they'd regard other issues the same way.
On a more mundane level, it made me think. Now thinking is always dangerous territory - but as tends to be the case, when I can't get my head around something, if I keep at it, I often learn something. In this case I found an article about ISIS. It says the Islamic State is no collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.
It seems this article is one of those all too rare things these days: good journalism. Having said that he seems to take a biased view of Salafism - something which I don't claim any understanding about but which seems to be something ISIS sees as it's territory. Certainly these are jihadists who regard themselves as salafists.
So my sadly not surprising conclusion is world peace won't happen any time soon. But it may surprise you to know why I say that.
World peace is a focus on a false hope - a distraction. We've come to look for solutions from leaders - from governments, religious leaders, people leaders, etc. The problem lies in us - so any solution has to come from us. You may favour world peace - but when did you last feel your hackles rise when a fellow motorist didn't behave as you expected? Or when a member of the loony left / mean right said something outrageous? Or ...