Time to give peace a chance


TODAY marks the 32nd anniversary of International Day of Peace, which is observed around the world on Sept 21.
The United Nation’s General Assembly, which is currently meeting in New York, declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
High on the agenda of the UN General Assembly’s 71st regular session is the plight of refugees and migrants, which has caused so much dissention globally.
Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu, who is representing Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, said in a brief statement that the UN General Assembly would also discuss a global pact for responsibility-sharing for refugees and efforts towards realising the 2030 Agenda for achieving full respect for human rights of migrants.
On this special day, all nations and peoples are invited to honour a cessation of internal and external hostilities and to commemorate it through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
Five days ago, Papua New Guinea celebrated 41 years as an independent country, which had gained nationhood through a peaceful transition.
We did not experience the blood, sweat and tears that other countries have had to face in achieving their political independence.
Therefore, our citizens should uphold and promote the principles of peace.
Unfortunately, our post-independence period has been riddled with law and order problems as well as ethnic and tribal conflicts that continue to disturb our peaceful co-existence.
The fact that PNG is one of the most culturally diverse countries with more than 800 different languages makes peace a hard act to follow.
While thousands have flocked to Independence Day anniversary celebrations around the country, only a handful are expected to commemorate International Peace Day today and mostly in Port Moresby.
Peace Foundation Melanesia (PFM) has been the leading advocate and promoter of peace day activities in PNG, especially in Port Moresby.
It’s executive director, James Laki, often reminds fellow Papua New Guineans to recognise and strengthen the ideals of peace and goodwill.
“Peace day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace among all peoples and nations and serves as a reminder to all,” he said recently.
“We believe that peace starts from the family, beginning with a happy family who are real forgivers that transcend to the children and the family as a whole.
“This then reaches out to the community and all the people of this land.”
We agree with Laki that the family unit is the basis for the promotion of peaceful existence among its members, the wider community and the country at large.
While minority groups such as the PFM are doing their bit to promote peace in this country, our political leaders have been somewhat reserved and even invisible.
They must actually walk the talk on peaceful co-existence among the people they represent, many of whom bear hostilities that date back for generations.
While our leaders had so much to say and celebrate during the independence anniversary last week, today seems irrelevant and insignificant.
This lack of enthusiasm has also been displayed by church and community leaders, many of whom may not be aware of this special day.
Indeed, it would be most uplifting for our Christian churches and denominations to mark the event in special services with the basic message of peace, love and hope.
Critics often say that Papua New Guinea considers itself a truly Christian country but most of its citizens are not practicing Christians. How true.
As Christianity is built on the foundations of love and peace, it is imperative that our church leaders also walk their pulpit talk by actively promoting the principles and ideals of peace.
Their continued silence and non-involvement on many issues such as family violence and ethnic conflicts, and other law and order issues, have cast grave doubts about the relevance of their ministries.
Are the Christian churches in PNG doing their part to actively promote peace and love or are they merely interested in preaching holy nothings?
Indeed, it’s time for these preachers to step out of the pulpit and take the lead in promoting peace and goodwill. And invariably their flock and others will follow.
As the legendary singer/songwriter John Lennon said in his special song, Give peace a chance.
Let us do so and make PNG a true paradise.

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