The true road to peace

Editorial, Normal

POPE John XXIII chose Dec 23, 1959, to urge “the world to remove from the path of peace the obstacles put there by the malice of men”.
Forty years on, just one day shy of Dec 23, we seem to hear the shallow echoes of the pope’s urge reverberating around the world again, like the random movement of neutrons – aimless but looking for that one nucleus of uranium 235 to create nuclear fission.
As 193 countries’ representatives, including PNG, gathered in Copenhagen to get a binding accord on global warming, the presidents of the world’s two biggest superpowers – Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev – met to clinch a pact cutting Cold War stocks of nuclear arms last Friday.
“Obstacles put there by the malice of men” intruded and both talks failed miserably to clinch any deal at all.
Obama told reporters after meeting Medvedev in the Danish capital that Washington and Moscow were “quite close” to agreement, but a senior Kremlin official later said talks would continue next month.
Neither side disclosed details of why the talks on a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty had missed a Dec 5 deadline and have still not produced a result. The world’s two largest nuclear powers have been trying since April to find a replacement for the treaty.
When two weeks of climate negotiations wound up in Copenhagen last Saturday, the goal of a new binding treaty to fight global warming was still “elusively far away”, the Los Angeles Times reported.
There was only a gentlemen’s agreement among the world’s largest economies to take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and no agreement on what comes next. 
Said the LA Times:  “It was a muddled mandate from a conference originally intended to produce a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. And it left the impression that any success in humankind’s efforts to avert the worst effects of climate change may be less an outcome of formal bargaining than of domestic politics, scientific innovation and, above all, the power of the emerging global market in low-emitting sources of energy.”
The most celebrated aspects of the so-called Copenhagen Accord, at least initially, were a batch of provisions that will boost the likelihood of major emitters acting on their own to reduce carbon pollution and will send clear signals to clean-energy investors and inventors.
Nations joining the accord will, by Jan 31, list their pledges for long-term emissions control. Developed nations will declare cuts, fast-developing nations will sign up for reductions as a share of their overall economy.
In this we seem to hear again the words of Pope John in 1959: “In the world of today, how many roads of peace have been proposed and imposed. And how many roads have been suggested to us …?”
The road to peace suggested by Pope John remains, as he described it, “an unending invitation … to hasten our steps along the roads to Bethlehem”. There lies the true “road to peace for us”.
From the two world wars to now, there have been too many utterances, numerous conferences and treaties, all dedicated to securing peace. But what an abuse of that sacred word: “peace, peace” (Jer 6:14).
From World War II till today, what a variety of utterances, what an abuse of this sacred word: “peace, peace”.
Yes, we pay respect and homage to the goodwill of the many guides and proclaimers of peace, those dead and living, in the world; statesmen, diplomats, financial gurus and writers.
We borrow from Pope John XXIII again: “But human efforts in the matter of universal peace-making are still far from the point where heaven and earth meet.
“The fact is that true peace cannot come save from God. It has only one name: the peace of Christ. It has one aspect, that impressed on it by Christ who, as if to anticipate the counterfeits of man, emphasised: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you (John 14:28).”
At this festive season, it is time to trudge down the humble cobbled path with Joseph and Mary, to that humble stable filled with the stench of animal refuse and witness the humble birth which in time divided human history into two – BC and AD.
And having arrived there, we should join the angelic host who stepped from the gates of Heaven to sing above the hills of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.”
Ah, yes. That is the peace we all must seek. For that is the true road to peace.