Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taking the Measure of Good

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taking the Measure of Good

Article excerpt

A dozen years ago, I accepted an editor's suggestion that I take a Yuletide look at the status of peace on earth. It seemed a good idea at the time. The cold war was winding down, and with it the fear of nuclear holocaust. Perhaps, one hoped, peace on earth might become not simply St. Luke's prayer but a tangible possibility. And so a tradition was born, the annual peace on earth wrap-up.

I don't know how you measure these things, but peace on earth seems further away than ever. One can cite a few places where violence has diminished: Bosnia and Kosovo in the Balkans, Afghanistan (if you keep your fingers crossed), Sumatra and Sri Lanka in Southeast Asia, and a few civil wars in Africa.

But the hardy perennials of conflict remain with us. Nationalist and religious struggles like Chechnya in Russia, Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and Palestinian vs. Israeli in the region where the words "peace on earth" were first uttered.

It has become necessary to redefine peace, as it has become necessary to redefine war. …

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