By Ricardo Márquez
We are in times of war. The most publicized by the news media are in Ukraine and now in the Middle East, between Israel and Hamas. Groups also are battling each other, sowing death and famine, in countries such as Yemen, Ethiopia and Haiti.
What is happening to us? Have we not learned from the pain and tragedy that we have endured throughout time?
Humanity has achieved extraordinary advances in science, the arts, sports and new technologies. All of us as human beings are born with the universal yearning to be loved and respected. Why, then, are there wars? To oppress, subjugate, humiliate and kill others, an entire process of conditioning the mind occurs — through beliefs, ideologies and judgments — that leads us to see the other as the enemy, as a threat, as an obstacle, as a thing.
Wars are guided by the fear of losing control of what we possess, be they our borders or our property. The defense and protection of our interests is achieved through the power and force we accumulate to terrorize those who want to harm us.
It’s inconceivable — from the perspective of a higher and more evolved conscience — that wars exist, as the astrophysicist Carl Sagan expressed in his book, “A Pale Blue Dot,” inspired by a photo of the Earth taken from 3.7 billion miles away.
The Earth is a tiny blue dot in the universe, he wrote, “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” That is where we live, our home.
“Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.”
This is how he concludes his reflection:
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Our Christian traditions can also nurture hope for the creation of a more fraternal world.
How do the words of our Teacher, Jesus, reverberate within us? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matt 5:9).
And what about these words, which are harder to assimilate: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:43)?
To repeat, reflect, ask for the grace to live this message in our daily life is today an urgent invitation.
To move from knowing this message to acting as instruments of peace is a challenge and gift of our tradition as followers of Jesus in this world of war. This option is not exempt from pain, a reality Jesus and His disciples well knew. Regardless, I’m inspired by His promise: “Do not fear, for I am with you” (Isa 41:10).
Ricardo Márquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.