DREAM OF A JUST, PEACE­FUL AND ALLINCLUSIVE WORLD

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - EDITORIAL -

To­mor­row is the 100th an­niver­sary of World Ar­mistice Day, com­mem­o­rat­ing the cen­te­nary of the day on which an agree­ment was signed to end World War I or WWI as we may re­fer to it in to­day’s high tech­nol­ogy era. Ar­mistice Day is com­mem­o­rated ev­ery year on No­vem­ber 11 to mark the ar­mistice signed be­tween the al­lies of World War I and Ger­many. For the ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties on the West­ern Front of World War I, the ar­mistice took ef­fect at 11 o’clock in the morn­ing—the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The day is a na­tional hol­i­day in France, and to mark this cen­te­nary year, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron con­vened a meet­ing of world lead­ers. But the United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump -- whose Repub­li­can Party was badly de­feated in the mid-term elec­tions last Tues­day to the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives -has snubbed the in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the peace con­fer­ence.

Many of the in­vi­tees, in­clud­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and Ger­many’s An­gela Merkel, are ex­pected to at­tend the open­ing of the in­au­gu­ral Paris Peace Fo­rum, which Mr. Macron will host. End­ing un­cer­tainty about whether the US leader would par­tic­i­pate, chief or­gan­iser Justin Vaisse con­firmed to AFP on Thurs­day that Mr. Trump did not plan to at­tend.

In an in­ter­view ear­lier this week, Mr. Vaisse had played down the im­por­tance of Mr. Trump’s pres­ence and said the fo­rum was part of Mr. Macron’s ef­forts to or­gan­ise a “fight­back” against the threat of ris­ing na­tion­al­ism. “The aim of the fo­rum is to show that there are lots of forces in the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem -- States, NGOS, foun­da­tions, in­tel­lec­tu­als, com­pa­nies -- which be­lieve we need a world of rules, an open world and a mul­ti­lat­eral world,” he said.

Mr. Macron has been an out­spo­ken critic of Mr. Trump’s “Amer­ica First” poli­cies and of his de­ci­sions to pull out of in­ter­na­tional agree­ments such as the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, the Iran nu­clear deal and most re­cently a nu­clear arms treaty.

The Bri­tish Guardian news­pa­per says about nine mil­lion peo­ple were killed in World War I. In an ed­i­to­rial to mark the cen­te­nary, the news­pa­per quotes one of the wars lead­ing his­to­ri­ans David Reynolds as say­ing mod­ern Bri­tain – and in­deed, as we be­lieve most of the mod­ern world – has “lost touch” with the first world war and the his­tor­i­cal con­text in which it oc­curred.

Our view of the war is now, as he put it re­cently, a “tragic-po­etic” one, shaped as much by Wil­fred Owen and some iconic pho­to­graphs as by the causes for which the com­bat­ants ac­tu­ally fought and the out­comes they would for­malise at Ver­sailles. Re­mem­brance has long been ex­tended to take in other con­flicts too. Nev­er­the­less, the first war still looms mas­sively in the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness and in the sto­ries of fam­i­lies. The re­lease re­cently of Peter Jack­son’s re­mark­able film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ – it will be screened on BBC2 to­mor­row evening – has helped to make the war freshly vivid for new gen­er­a­tions.

In Sri Lanka, we are still suf­fer­ing in the af­ter­math of a 26-year civil war in which hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were killed or in­jured while the dev­as­ta­tion caused is in­cal­cu­la­ble. More than nine years af­ter the end of the war, we are still fac­ing po­lit­i­cal tur­moil with a show­down likely in Par­lia­ment next week.

We hope it will not re­sult in huge street protests or vi­o­lence be­cause our ma­jor reli­gions tell us vi­o­lence does not cease by vi­o­lence but by di­a­logue and ac­com­mo­da­tion on the mid­dle path.

As holy scrip­tures tell us in sym­bolic terms, di­a­logue in­stead of war will lead to a haven of peace where the lion will lie down with the lamb, the wolf will be tamed, the leop­ard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the year­ling to­gether, and a lit­tle child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down to­gether, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The in­fant will play near the co­bra’s den, and the young child will put his or her hand into the viper’s nest. They will nei­ther harm nor de­stroy any­one.

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