"Give up this absurd peace work," an old friend mutters bitterly. "There will never be peace on earth, so stop wasting your time."
She's both right and wrong. Sometimes there's more peace than at other times, but there will indeed always be conflict. Even when things seem to be improving, the quest for peace is like a journey to the east. However far east you go, there will still be more east left. You don't run out of east, and you don't run out of peace to work for. Thank goodness! What goal could be more fascinating, more challenging, or more fun than "this absurd peace work"?
Just look at the agenda on our table of contents. First, there's peace as social justice. We have to figure out how to feed the hungry, improve police services in repressive states, and overcome the ancient enmities between Christians and Muslims. We're working on it. Then there's peace as a healthy culture. We are figuring out how to use democracy to protect ourselves from the assaults of the media in our environment. Also, there's peace as control over radiation dangers - both nuclear power and nuclear weapons proliferation. Ten years after Chernobyl, we find nuclear power declining around the world, and we are working toward a missile material cutoff treaty. Next there's peace as the curtailment of militarism. Canadians are challenged by this goal in Labrador and Nanoose Bay, where treaties are being renewed to perpetuate military cooperation with other states. Still, even in this domain we see small signs of progress, such as the acquittal in April of protesters who are defending the human rights of the Innu people against NATO planes.
And finally, there is peace as democratic politics. The Russian people have plenty of "east" to go toward politically, but if Fyodor Burlatsky is right, they have reason to be optimistic about their long term prospects. And if the Russians can afford optimism, Canadians can surely do likewise. So brighten up and enjoy the springtime!
Where, you may ask, is the Peace Puzzle? Well, the answers to last month's crossword are on page 30, but we haven't heard much from readers about the puzzle, so we've decided to use the space for other items. If you miss it, let us know. and we'll bring it back.