Stirrings of peace

Peace seems to be in the air these days. What, you say?With the British armada steaming toward the Falklands, riots erupting in the West Bank, guns blazing in El Salvador, Soviet tanks rumbling in Afghanistan? Yes, the world is far from peaceful and humanity's yearning for an end of violence far from fulfilled. Yet something else is happening which should lift depressed spirits and keep hope alight - a deepening desire of individuals and nations to prevent war and to resolve conflict by negotiation rather than armed might.

This is a fitting time to be reminded of this - a season when millions throughout the world are partaking in a celebration of life, when Jews mark the liberation of their forebears from Egyptian bondage and Christians renew their faith through remembrance of the resurrection. If the path to mankind's full liberation and peace remains strewn with the hard rocks of hatred, human will, selfishness, greed, it is being cleared nonetheless and there is solid evidence of this.

Think, for instance, of the groundswell of public support for controlling the nuclear arms race. Who would have thought, only a few years ago, that in towns and communities across Europe and the United States millions of citizens would be giving their time and energy to combatting the nuclear threat? So loud and clear are their voices that political leaders must take and are taking notice. President Reagan, whose determination to stand up to communist aggression is beyond question, talks of meeting with Leonid Brezhnev and of achieving a mutual reduction of nuclear arsenals. Debate of the issue has reached a point where leading US intellectual and political figures are urging study of the possibility of a NATO pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. Surely this is a profound change in the world climate.

Then let's mention, yes, the Falkland Islands. Fifty years ago, perhaps even less, no one would have blinked an eye had Great Britain promptly declared war on the presumptuous Argentines and blown their military forces out of the water. Today we see a more cautious route. There may be violence still, but vigorous diplomatic efforts are underway to try to settle the dispute by negotiation rather than bullets. For all their nationalist spirit, Britons think of the possible loss of life and the consequences of a resort to force. The Argentines , too, say they do not want war.

Finally, this month will see the return of the last remaining swath of the Sinai Peninsula to its rightful owner. The treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt was won only after much spilling of blood. But today it stands as an earnest of reconciliation between the captors and captives of ancient times and as a bright promise of the possibility for reconciliation throughout the region, a small step toward peace to be welcomed and built upon.

Here, and in many other examples we could cite, lie the seeds of further progress. Let us, then, not lose heart when sounds of strife resound and headlines scream. There is good news today even as there was in those stirring events of centuries ago. Indeed this should not be surprising. For it is those events which set mankind on the path of peace - and remain the inextinguishable beacon pointing the way.

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