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Learn from the children the language of peace

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In many parts in Muslim Mindanao, the Christian observance of Christmas used to be celebrated not only by the Christian communities but also by the Muslims. The celebration is not so much because it is the birth of Jesus, but the occasion is observed as a season of sharing and healing.

In the island province of Basilan and in Central Mindanao, there is an effusive respect amongst Muslim and Christians in the observance of their respective religious holy festivals. Time was when children and adults of either side sing Christmas carols or share each other’s food in thanksgiving.

Even in Christian schools where many Muslim children are enrolled, not a hint of discrimination is reported because of the interfaith cohesiveness and respect for each other’s cultural practices. The bonding of children especially is awe-inspiring.

It is therefore tragic and traumatic for these growing up generations to experience being torn apart from this bond of friendship because of the internal conflicts that led to the displacement of families. The conflicts have many faces. The secessionist adventurisms  of a few that bring to a clash not only the armed components of the fronts and of the government soldiers but dragged into the chaos are the civilians who have nothing to do at all in the political struggles.  The other divisive factor is the crazy war among clans who are locked in an eternal conflict called ‘rido’ bringing the curse of death not only among the present generations but those that will come after.

We have seen innocent school children prematurely pulled out from schools for fear of reprisals. We have heard them cry. It breaks our hearts to listen to them yearning to go back and huddle with their friends anew like any children do. Worse, the education of the children is sacrificed.

Despite these maledictions that affect our children we delay the peace process as though having a piece of territory can insure the future and security of their generation. The language of the gun and the might of a warlord are nothing. These cannot guarantee peace and security for these can only perpetuate conflicts.

The significance of feast of Eid’l Fitr and Christmas should be shared by everyone in an atmosphere of peace and thanksgiving and forgiveness. Just look at the faces of the children and learn how peace can be achieved.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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