What Peace Can Do for Us: Reflection from the General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
A reflection on the International Day of Peace from Dr. Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
Today is the International Day of Peace. It’s a significant day for us as a nation but indeed for us as a church. We insist that the quality and sustainability for our national development is largely dependent on the quality of our peace. Negative peace only means there is no outright war. Positive peace speaks to the qualitative coexistence of all actors in an environment of cooperation in spite of the differences.
The Old Testament concept of peace, Shalom, refers to total wellbeing, “harmony, wholeness, completeness, welfare and tranquility.” In the New Testament, the nation of peace, “eirene”, is sometimes “used in its classical sense to designate a condition of law and order or the absence of war, as experienced, e.g., during the Pax Romana (Mt 10:34 par; Lk 11:21; 14:32; Acts 12:20; 24:2; Rv 6:4). Usually, however, the term is used to refer to the experience of salvation that comes from God or the harmonious relationships between persons.”
We need to all invest in positive and holistic peace in Zimbabwe. This must begin with individuals at peace with themselves.
Some people are a civil war within themselves because they have not dealt with the pain inflicted on them by others in the past. Lack of personal peace may manifests in violent treatment of our spouses and children. Teachers may express their lack of internal peace in the way they treat students. Bosses at work my manifest lack of peace by the way they treat other employees. Political leaders can show lack of peace by their lack of compassion and propensity to use violence to resolve disagreements. Some of our public leaders were abused during the war and never got healed. They got oriented to violent means of resolving differences. They thus inflict pain on anyone disagreeable to them.
As a nation we will need to retrain our police, army and other state security organs to appreciate non- violent approach to dealing with citizens. Some will need psychotherapeutic help to heal them from the pain they harbour.
Some maybe suffering from the guilt of torturing and even murdering innocent people. They will need help so that they can discharge their duty with joy and a sense of service. Parents will also need to learn new nonviolent ways of disciplining children. The media should promote nonviolent language.
Zimbabwe can only enjoy sustainable development if we live in peace with one another. Happy international peace day to you all.