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Love: Highway to Peace

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Can a man (or woman) live without love?, a French writer once upon a time philosophically asked.

The Muslim and Christian religious leaders of Mindanao, through their Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), have made that almighty moral virtue the centerpiece of the theme for this year’s Mindanao-wide Week of Peace celebration: “Common Word  Between Us:  Love of  God, Love of Neighbor”. 

Both the Bible and Koran, they point out, declare and teach the primacy of love and thus Muslims and Christians can achieve peace only “through a life based on ‘Love of God, Love of  Neighbor.’”  Their admonition hearkens back to a letter of solidarity written by over 130 Islamic scholars four years ago to their Christian peers to forge a united front in the search for world peace.

The highway to peace is through love, the BUC emphasizes.  But, they noted, “the conflicts, wars and animosities, among and between Christians and Muslims in the global society today can be traced to the wrong understanding and/or violation of this commandment” to love. Love today, in other words, has lost its power over man’s hearts and minds. By the same premise, the people of Mindanao suffer from this affliction and this is the basic reason behind the Bangsamoro war and our other long-running scourges of violence.

To have and enjoy peace individually and collectively, a person must imbibe and practice genuine love.  During the launching of the Week of Peace celebration and renewal of commitment by the members of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace last November 19, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) president Fr. Angel Calvo in his message quoted from the first Letter of John: “We love because God first loved us.  If anyone says, ‘I love God’ yet hates one’s brother or sister, that one is a liar.  For anyone who does not love one’s brother or sister, whom we have seen, cannot love God, whom we have not seen.  And God has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

In his book entitled “Moral Wisdom”, Jesuit priest Fr. James Keenan narrated  how most of the victims of the New York Twin Towers terrorist attack acted once they realized instant death was inevitable as they got trapped in the burning buildings and plummeting airplanes.  Using their cellphones, they called their mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children and said how much they love them.   In the face of death from an incredible violence, they chose love over anger, hatred or blame.  Death is a certainty for anyone anywhere, but the ever-present danger of violence in Mindanao makes it more immediate for its residents. 

“Love is a great and good thing”, said Thomas a’ Kempis, “and alone makes heavy burdens light and bears in equal balance things pleasing and displeasing. . .makes bitter things tasteful and sweet. .. restricted in its liberty and is in great freedom . . sees reason to fear and does not fear. . and through special help of grace is delivered from all perils and  dangers.”

The wise men, and no less than God himself, have spoken: With love all things – and especially peace – are possible. 

Week of Peace 2011 is being celebrated November 24 – December 1.

By Peace Advocates Zamboanga




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