Endless Conflict and the Pursuit of Peace

José Maria C.S. André

News of war in the world is becoming increasingly distressing. Can we remain unaware?

The Russian attempt to dominate Ukraine continues. People die every day, often civilians without a military role; entire cities have been destroyed; supply lines and power plants ruined; millions of Ukrainians are still displaced, many of them living precariously abroad. The horror of war goes on for two years and seems to have no end, as if the accounting of human lives was a mere game. Ukraine began by defending only its own land but is now extending its action to civilian targets inside Russia. On both sides, hatred and death are accumulating.

The crisis in the Holy Land, with Israel’s slow but unstoppable territorial expansion in the last years and a long history of mutual conflicts, escalated dramatically last October with the Hamas attack that killed almost 1,500 Israeli civilians. Israel seized the opportunity to conquer the entire Gaza Strip, unleash its hatred on the defenceless population living there and move on to occupy the West Bank.

This is the so-called Moshe Dayan doctrine, established in 1950, which consists in ignoring the individual aggressors and taking barbaric revenge on the civilian population. Dayan recognized that this method was neither justified nor moral, but he considered it to be the only effective one. Since then, Israel’s average is to kill 20 Palestinians for every Israeli killed. Although we are now just short of 30,000 Palestinians killed, to avenge the almost 1,500 Israelis killed by Hamas in October, the thirst for blood does not seem to be satisfied. In addition to the deaths, the retaliation included evicting the entire Gaza Strip, systematically razing all settlements to the ground, cutting off roads, humanitarian aid, water and food supplies and bombing hospitals.

The International Criminal Court is studying the case, because it admits that this action amounts to genocide of the Palestinian people. For now, the Court asked Israel to respect some humanitarian rules. However, the Court does not have the strength to enforce its decisions and the international community is unable to unite in order to stop the offensive and the tragedy it is causing. Israel argues that it only bombs military targets, but the truth is that they do not even know where Hamas is hiding Israeli prisoners and the 30,000 victims are mostly civilians, including United Nations staff who distribute food to the displaced population. On both sides, hatred is growing.

The sites of armed conflict are spreading like a wildfire, turning this earth into hell.

It’s a mistake to think that revenge brings joy. Those who burn with the craving for revenge are never satisfied with the evil they inflict on others. Hatred demands more and more hatred. Not only are the victims tempted to respond along the same line, but the aggressor is trapped in an insatiable spiral of aversion and unhappiness.

Peace concerns us. In every audience, the Pope asks us “not to forget wars.” We can’t get used to this wind of madness sweeping the world, we have to suffer with the suffering of others, we have to fight for justice and we can never—at any time—indulge in negative feeling against anyone.

The devil doesn’t understand this strategy, he laughs at those who suffer for problems that do not concern them and continues to laugh at the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice!”, “Blessed are the peaceful!”

Hatred never tires and that’s why Hell has no end. Love, on the other hand, fills the soul with inexhaustible happiness and that’s why Heaven has no end either.