REFLECTIONS: Peace in a piece

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 5 Feb) – I hear the drum beats for war in any circle: in the news, in the faculty room, in the neighborhood store, in family gatherings, in meetings, even in church chats. My wife would exclaim in near frustration: why are these things happening, even if we just ushered the Pope’s pastoral visit (with a lot of message for peace, unity with the poor and oppressed). The Pope could have replied: “I do not have an answer.”

Every time people around me speak about the Mamasapano stories, they are becoming more and more certain that botching the peace process and going to war is the answer.

Me too, I have my questions for all parties to what happened. So when I hear people in my circle blame one party for their actions or the lack of it, I admire them (in my mind) for they express their humanity and concern as they react to media portrayals of the victims, their families, and the gymnastics after the incident.

Sometimes, I realized they are more informed about the thread of events on the incident than I am. But as a newsman, they turn to me for one reason or another.

Sometimes, I unlock my biases – I try to join them in brainstorming opinions. I tell them how I feel exactly. Sometimes, when I remember, I keep silent, I keep away – I am afraid to inflict more pain by sharing my ignorance.

I do not have all the answers to their questions. I have questions, too.

But as a reporter, a teacher, a father, a husband, a son, a neighbor, a student, a friend, a colleague, a resident of Mindanao, I remain convinced that war is not, was not, and will not be an option.

I commit myself that as a journalist, I have a stake to what’s happening around. As a communicator and educator, I will do it to build, not to destroy.

We have received so much blessings. We have learned a lot and scarred a lot from our experiences. We have had so much time to let the sun’s light help us see that war is there to be lost.

This is not saying those who erred should go unpunished. Let’s pursue criminals. Let justice prevail so peace can come in. But peace is not only an end, peace is also a means.

Actually, dako kaayo ang gahum sa matag usa ug sa hugpong sa mga katawhan nga pugngan ang pagdagayday sa daghan pang dugo, sa dugang kagubot. Lapad kaayo ang hawanan nga ipatigbabaw ang kalinaw ug hunongon na ang pagpanglumpag sa unsa nala’y nabilin sa ato.

We have lost so much, we have wept so long, we have ignored so many full moons. Only those who did not know and feel the pain of past and ongoing wars can let another war happen.

My prayer: do not be war-freak. Check the way you cover news, the way you post on FB, the way you forward a text message, the way you react in small and big group discussions.

When you were asked to choose peace, you were not asked to obtain a post graduate degree in Peace Studies or what.

You were asked to watch your words, thoughts, and actions. You were asked not to rub salt on the wound.

Lord that I may not act as if I do not see, hear, and feel the need for peace. Amen.

(Walter I. Balane is reporter of MindaNews and editor of BukidnonNews.Net in Malaybalay City. He also teaches journalism and economics at the Bukidnon State University.)