THE EDITOR, Sir: FOR A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
In a recent CNN discussion, Fareed Zakaria made a very interesting observation. He noted that the historic peace deal signed in Colombia meant that the entire Western Hemisphere was now free of major armed conflict. The deal was rejected by referendum, but the Colombian government and rebels continue to negotiate.
The story, however, is quite compelling. This is a region that only 50 years ago was ravaged by civil wars and armed conflict of varying proportions. Even though high crime rates are still problems in many of these countries, the fact that the governments have all been able to win and/or negotiate peace in the entire Western Hemisphere is quite an accomplishment.
Also interesting is the fact that the overwhelming majority of these countries are led by presidents or prime ministers who acclaim their beliefs in the Bible, either in the form of Protestantism or Roman Catholicism.
This may be all a coincidence, of course, but the same cannot be said of the governments of the hemisphere that are embroiled in various armed conflicts and wars.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. However, biblical scholars will tell us that the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God”.
This means that even in the midst of trying times and personal turbulence, it is still possible to find peace in one’s relationship with God.
I believe also that this can translate to peace between neighbours, towns, regions and countries.
Religion should never be used as a tool of war. Instead, it can be used a basis for peace, and if there is any connection at all between the lack of wars in the Western Hemisphere and the fact that the leaders are followers in faith of the Bible, this should be emulated. I believe that faith does, indeed, matter. JON READER firstname.lastname@example.org