Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa once opined, “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”
But with Democrats and Republicans seemingly at constant odds with one another — ranging from political debates to passionate meme wars online to finger pointing accusations across the spectrum — and their party members and voters following suit with wars of words that often times seem so outlandish and childish, one wonders if there was any rational thought which took place before words were tossed into the fray. In this atmosphere, the concept of “talk to your enemies” seems like a mirage. Tracking the elusive pot of gold at the end of a Florida post-thunderstorm rainbow seems more likely.
We remember — or, perhaps, like to think we remember — a time when our society was better capable of actually discussing and resolving disputes in a civil manner. But every day, the national headlines become more frustrating and disappointing, as seemingly trivial issues get blown out of proportion and cooler heads are unable to prevail. Every day, people “defriend” individuals on social media sites over differences in political opinion, ranging from disputes over their choice for president to disputes over the proper level of respect for the national anthem.
But for all of this, there are still individuals who still retain a sense of hope — a belief that people with countering viewpoints can still get together over coffee without throwing a hot beverage in each other’s face over some political difference. And luckily, we here at the Town-Crier believe these positive forces are still the majority of mankind.
This weekend, strong people with vision and courage will celebrate the 10th annual Rotary Club of Wellington’s Peace Initiative Project, which includes the annual Wellington Peace Ceremony. It’s a local version of the United Nations International Day of Peace, which was observed on Wednesday, Sept. 21. The U.N. version was created some 35 years ago as a day to recognize the basic tenet that peace is necessary for all people to experience full human rights.
This year’s Wellington Peace Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. at the Rotary Club’s Peace Park on Royal Fern Drive off Forest Hill Blvd., near the Wellington library. The ceremony is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.wellingtonrotary.org.
Ceremonies are only a small part of the quest for peace. But at the local level, they are important, as it is vital to retain a grasp on basic decency in a world which seems headed the opposite way. As we mark the 2016 International Day of Peace, may we be reminded that we can never truly contribute in the pursuit of peace for our country and the world unless there is peace within us. As John Lennon famously sang, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”