Tariq A. Al-Maeena
THE Gregorian calendar ushered in 2013 yesterday. Throughout the globe, individuals reflected on the previous year and along with the usual compendium of New Year’s resolutions, many of which simply don’t last the month before they are adjusted, altered or altogether ignored, there were also prayers for peace and prosperity all around.
A peace not only for themselves and their loved ones, but also for all of humanity be it in Burma, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, or any of the other hotspots around the world. There were prayers for the victims of natural calamities and for the dead and fallen in countless meaningless battles and wars. And there were prayers that one day in this new year there would be peace.
For the Muslim world and in particular for the Arab world, 2012 had its share of wars and sorrows. The continuous civil war that is bleeding Syria and which has resulted in the loss of so many thousands of innocent lives has not relented in its ferocity. The incursion into Gaza by Israeli forces led to many unnecessary victims, most of whom were innocent pawns in the game of geopolitics. In Egypt, continuous disputes by members of opposing ideologies feed the polarization that is sweeping the country and creating an air of uncertainty. Lebanon and Tunisia are among others that yearn for a period free from uncertainty.
But there have been some not so grim moments in the region. Many felt that the restraint shown by the US administration in not militarily attacking Iran in spite of mounting Israeli instigation has led to a fragile regional stability. The region could not have stood more wars and chaos now; the plate is full!
We, as the human race, mobilize very quickly in the face of natural disasters that strike our neighbors. And we continue to do that in the interest of our fellow man everywhere. However, the quest for power, for regional influence, for aggressive takeovers has scarred our basic human principle of being good and doing well to mankind and remaining peaceful.
Peace lovers in Israel and Palestine must rise above years of conflict and not be led astray by an aggressive leadership whose agendas are deeply ingrained in hate, suspicion and destruction. There is room for peaceful coexistence. There exist peace-loving Israelis who are horrified at the events that have taken place over the years, but sadly their voices are lost in a media that is conditioned to promote aggression. We must stand by them and encourage spreading their message.
The mounting death toll in Syria remains a dark blemish on our collective conscience. Syrians from opposing sides must realize the destructive path their country is on, one that they may never recover from. They deserve a respite from this continuous assault on their lives and their property.
Perhaps they should take a step back and evaluate what has been achieved and where their collective conscience is headed to.
The United States of America is headed by a president in his second term. He no longer needs to fear offending powerful lobbies. There is no third term, and the US must understand that it has a great responsibility in the Middle East region. As a world leader, it must play the honest broker and use its might to do some right. US democracy must attempt to wrest back the true meaning of the word that has somewhat faded in recent years.
This US administration should no longer give in to the demands of interest groups from within that promote wars or unjust occupations. Peaceful reconciliation and negotiation should be the foundation of US foreign policy. Only then can mistrust that has grown in recent years be put to rest.
Intolerance to any form of terrorism must be promoted. We will not accept groups with their twisted ideologies spreading their message of destruction, whoever they may be. Intolerance of other peoples, other faiths and other cultures is nothing short of repulsive, and we can overcome such barriers through education and communication.
Individually, we can all begin by offering an olive branch to those we perceive rightly or wrongly to be the enemy. We will be quick to discover that they share concerns similar to our own - the fate of their children, their health, their livelihood - and that our mistrust of each other has no real basis.
Why then should we not reach out and help each other, rather than set out to destroy each other? Today’s citizens are citizens of the world. Whatever religion we worship, and whatever faith we follow, they all speak of peace and love. It may seem too simplistic to some that the message of peace could prevail in modern times. But if we fail in our efforts to push for peace now, then we will have all failed as citizens of this planet.
The call for peace must continue to ring.
— The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter: @talmaeena