It is the season of peace and goodwill as billions around the world celebrate Christmas. Jesus the Christ, the central figure of Christmas, preached a message of peace and love. Throughout the entire Bible, depending on which version, the word peace is mentioned anywhere between 263 and 428 times.
Peace is a common yearning for most people. Inner peace, societal peace and global peace are longed for by many.
However, many parts of the world are anything but peaceful. There is nuclear saber-rattling on the part of Russia as it continues its war in Ukraine, North Korea has increased its testing of inter-continental ballistic missiles, nuclear arsenals are increasing, and millions of people are currently displaced as a result of armed conflict and or political unrest.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker, there are at least 27 global conflicts ranging from bilateral warfare, political instability and civil war.
Furthermore, according to Tess Lowery, a writer and editor at Global Citizen, two billion people currently live in conflict affected areas; and overall, conflict is on the rise. The United Nations (UN) has also warned that peace is more under threat around the world than it has been since World War II.
In Yemen, nearly a quarter of a million people have been killed, and many more have been pushed to the brink of starvation as a result of a civil war which has been ongoing for over six years.
In Syria, after more than a decade of civil war, over 13 million people have been displaced. In Myanmar, the world’s longest civil war has now lasted more than sixty years. In Haiti, a political crisis and the activities of criminal gangs have added fuel to years-long instability.
Conflict is also a leading cause of poverty and hunger worldwide. For instance, the war in Ukraine has directly contributed to food shortages and a general increase in global food prices.
Lowery notes that in 2016, the cost of conflict globally stood at $14 trillion, enough to end world hunger 42 times over. Therefore, fewer conflicts would mean that more of the world’s financial resources could go towards addressing other pressing needs.
Beyond the more recognizable conflicts, many countries are also seeing an uptick in violence. Murders, rapes, assaults, robberies and other forms of criminality are robbing many law abiding people in many countries of their right to enjoy a life that is free of violence.
This is a rather pessimistic view, but it is also the reality. For this Christmas and beyond, my wish, even if it is utopian, is that people everywhere whose lives are devoid of peace will know peace, and indeed goodwill within themselves and their communities. May this same peace and goodwill find their way across the world.
Merry Christmas and best wishes for a better 2023 to all readers.