Peace comes in stages. There is first the cessation of hostilities. After that there is the slow building of relationships, building bridges and taking down walls between relationships.
Then there are the acts of restoration, caring for the sick and the wounded in conflict, the persecuted and the widows and orphans, on both sides of a dispute, without respect for the ethnic or religious background of the person in need. This is in keeping with Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan. Paying of school fees for forsaken children, bringing youth of different backgrounds together in education, giving them hope for their future and teaching them to respect each other. Giving youth hope, education, jobs and values of respect for others different to themselves is vital to our future as a community and nation. We call this prosses “building one table,” caring for others as we care for ourselves.
Pulling down vitriolic speech, which comes from a poisoned heart, is essential. Turning ourselves away from teachings of separation and division, that claim we can be independent, that we don’t need others, that we can push others to the margins of our society and not care for them, need to be abandoned. It is common today for teachings to encourage us to isolate ourselves from whole groups of other people, claiming that we would be better off without them. This is denying a part of God’s creation. These false ideas need to be replaced with teachings of reconciliation and integration, of mutual support, of patience and about how we can rebuild trust when relationships have been betrayed and broken. But this comes from a renewed heart. A heart filled with self must give way to a heart filled with mercy.
For peace to be meaningful and to grow it must begin to reshape our economic relationships. We might call this “economic justice,” making all people and sectors of the community economic participants, giving each one the opportunity to flourish. Unless this economic justice begins to take root and grow, there will be no chance for a lasting peace. Peace depends upon people being able to earn money to eat and to send their children to school.
We may have heard the saying, “Don’t struggle to lift your own boat, but work together with others to lift the water tide.” When the water tide rises, all boats rise with it, including our own boat. For too long, the teaching we have received is about how to lift our own boat, competing against other boats. This isn’t God’s will. God’s will is for us to lift up each other. This way we are all blessed. We must change our teaching. Our success depends on the success of others, not upon their destruction. As Paul said, “Don’t just think of your own interests, but of the interests of others.” This is peace.
If we exclude one ethnic group among us, it means the economy is being depleted. A whole ethnic group isn’t free to contribute their own part to the rising water tide. Each group has gifts, skills products and financial contributions to make towards the rising tide of the economy, which benefits the whole community. To deny a group from equal economic participation is to hurt us all. This means the whole economy of the community suffers loss. If we exclude one group from farming, for example, from renting land to farm their own produce, it means less food at our marketplace, for all of us. This means higher prices for food for us all.
What happens if we rent our land to others to farm? It results in the following outcomes:
- We obtain the rent money for the land.
- It means more food is being produced on land that was previously idle.
- It means more food being sold at the market, bringing down food prices.
- This means we save money when buying our food.
- This means we have more money to spend of other items at the market, other things for our homes that we couldn’t afford before.
- It means if we are a mechanic, a fashion designer, or a floor tiler, other people have more money to patronise us, as more money is flowing in the whole marketplace.
- This lifts the economic activity of the whole market, for all traders and skilled workers.
- This means all our families have more money and can afford school fees for their children.
- Educated children means a peaceful future for us all.
This is a win/ win situation. We win on renting our land for payment. We win on cheaper food. We win on increased job opportunities in the more active economy. We win on being able to educate our children. We win on the peace that spreads through our better relationships.
If we don’t rent our land to others to farm, what happens? This would result in their continued hunger. They cannot afford to educate their children, so these youth on the street join criminal gangs, committing crimes, a continual source of conflict, hopelessness and loss of peace in our community. It means a reduction in wealth for us and loss of hope for the future of our own children.
Coming together in full economic integration is the way of prosperity, but it also means there are issues that will come up. There will be times of misunderstanding, or hurt, or rumour, or wrongdoing among us or against us. This is inevitable. Building relationships always has these setbacks, because none of us are perfect, and we always do wrong at some point. But it is how we respond to this wrongdoing that is crucial.
This is maturity. When wrong is done, when we or others suffer loss, how do we respond? To draw back from integration with other sectors of the community because we believe they are the cause of the wrong, means we are charting a course for a worse future. We have more to lose from separation than from the problems that integration brings. We may take risks by reconciling and building renewed relationships, but by continuing separation we suffer far more harm in the longer term, and our children after us. Either we repair things today, or we pass on the problem to our children to repair instead.
Rather, when wrong is done we come together, we discuss it, we work with the mature people among us to resolve the issues, to heal the breaches, to restore the wrong that has been done. This is what mature people do. If we say the others aren’t mature, then let them learn maturity from us, by our patient and enduring actions of good, by our good works.
We have neighbours. When wrong happens, we visit each other and discuss the issues. This is mature behaviour. This mightn’t be easy. It might cost us something. But it will cost us a lot more to respond in an immature manner. Hatred and division will cost us plenty in the days ahead, and our children especially will pay the most for our immaturity and unwillingness today.
We might call this “social economics.” This has nothing to do with ideas of “socialism.” What I mean by “social economics” is that we all stand to gain if our economic policies include the whole social structure, make everyone, every ethnic and religious group, an equal participant. Social economics means economics that is based upon the full inclusion of every group, in a way that increases the wellbeing and relationships of the whole community. This brings many factors to the community:
- Increased diversity of skills and goods and services
- Increased economic activity and the profit for the whole community
- Increased interrelationships and peace to the community
- Increased external investment, attracted by a stable economy and a stable community.
The economic tide rises when all hands are on deck. This means working out economic policies that are intertwined with our social policy, of integration and restoring relationships. It is an economics that is based on a recognition of the whole social fabric, understanding that as each sector of the society is healed, restored and fully integrated, then the whole economic structure lifts for us all and all our boats rise.
When you speak to people about how agriculture was done some years ago, they will tell you that there was no chemical farming. Farmers didn’t use chemical fertilizers, chemical weedicides or chemical insecticides. Instead, they used a mixture of manure and intercropping to keep their soils fertile. Intercropping means mixing the crops that are sewn into the soil, to add back to the soil different nutrients that the soil needs for its fertility.
When chemical fertilizers came, they told us that this would make our farms more productive and make us wealthier. But the opposite has happened. Chemicals used in this way do two things. They kill our soils and they kill our relationships with other people.
First, they kill our soils. Using chemical fertilizers, weedicides and insecticides kill the fungi and biological life within the soils. Without worms, fungi and micro-organisms enriching the soils, the soils don’t hold water and they have no air in them for crop roots: they become compressed, dense and hard. Since the soil has been killed in this way, farmers require constant chemical additions to be able to farm. When these chemicals become expensive, farming begins to impoverish us. After many years the soil becomes so degraded that farming becomes almost impossible. The farmer must then look for more land, to begin new farms. In this way, land becomes a scarce resource and conflict over land increases. If we continue killing our soils with chemicals, the levels of social conflict will increase in the next generation. Unless we restore our soils, we are not passing on a fertile and peaceful life to our children. This is very important for the future of our nation.
The second thing using chemicals in this way kills is our relationships. Before we used these chemicals, we knew we needed each other. We needed manure. We needed certain kinds of trees, bushes and insects and animals around our farms to keep the soils healthy. But when we began to rely on chemicals, we believed we didn’t need this diversity around us anymore. We could become independent. We could kill all the good insects, the bushes and shrubs that add nutrients to our soils. We believed we didn’t need the manure and didn’t need to cultivate healthy mutually beneficial relationships with our neighbours and cattle herders.
After years like this, these chemicals have made us much poorer. We have no helpful insects, no diverse plant life around our farms, no diverse eco-life from nearby forests that enrich our crops and soils, no local wild animal life and no diverse social relationships that enrich our farming techniques. We are now left unto ourselves and our conflicts. It’s as if the chemicals have said to us, “You can reign as gods, without the need of any other.” But it’s a lie.
The chemicals have become like a drug, that once the user is addicted, the drug impoverishes the user, and enriches the seller. We need “rehab”: to rehabilitate our soils and restore our wildlife and restore our social relationships.
When we burn our farms after harvest, it means the ash, with the natural nitrates, phosphates and potassium, and all the other rich natural chemicals in it, is blown away by the winds during dry season. The soil then remains uncovered, like a body undressed. When soil is uncovered, the topsoil and its nutrients are also blown away by the wind. When the rains start, further soil is washed away, because after burning there are no plant roots to hold the topsoil in place, causing erosion. Most of the rich soil is lost by wind and water. Farms cannot remain productive this way. Our land is being lost and future generations will pay for this in poverty and conflict, as people compete for less and less good land.
But when we allow cattle to enter our farms after harvest, they eat some of the leftovers, and they tread the rest of the grass and farming leftovers underfoot, making a kind of a mat cover for the soil, and adding their manure and urine. The soil is now clothed and enriched, getting ready for the next farming. The cattle also benefit from the part that they eat, as they move on. So there is a mutual relationship that benefits all. This mutual “give and take” is what we need to relearn, to build our common welfare. It’s a lie that we can live without this mutual relationship with our neighbours and without a thriving natural ecosystem.
When we push one sector of our society away, and say, “We have no need of you,” then we are impoverishing ourselves. Farms were made to mix crops with manure, with natural composts, with a thriving wild ecosystem. That is how God made creation to be. He didn’t make us to be independent. Paul said, “The eye cannot say to the ear, ‘I have no need of you.’” God made creation in diversity, for an integration of all parts, bringing the whole system into nutrition and wellbeing. If we push the cattle away, we will lose our farms in the years ahead. And if we lose our farms, we lose everything.
Again, integrating relationships isn’t easy. It can be very difficult. It requires patience, maturity, talking over issues with our neighbours, solving problems that have arisen. But this is a process we must go through to succeed. Believing the lie of the chemicals, that “I have no need of you,” or the lie of our modern-day religions, that say, “we are better off without our enemies,” puts us on the road to destruction. This modern kind of false religion is a lie. Therefore, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, because we need them. We cannot be gods unto ourselves. Faith didn’t come to make us a god to cut off our enemies, but to bring us into God’s image, who loves his enemies and died for them.
When we integrate more in our daily activities, all kinds of opportunities begin to open for our neighbours, like further education and better welfare in their families. Love frees us from manipulation and control, and we can respond to truth in our relationships. Our gates are open to all. When you come here to Wurin Alheri you find all people working together, helping one another. Diverse careers open up for educated people and over the years a new common integration for the general welfare of the nation emerges.
It all beings with our care for others, as we care for ourselves and from this springs new possibilities we never imagined before. It starts with our mixing, sharing, treating any person equally as a neighbour, as God would have us treat them. We say, “We don’t see you as being this or that group, you are simply our neighbour, like ourselves.” Not holding the sins of others against them, just as God treats us. Whatever facility you have, be it education, health, water, skills acquisition, invite all and share freely with all people, not minding their background. Treat people as people, and new things will happen for our nation.
So, make relationships with your neighbours. The elders of one community should get to know personally the elders of another community. They should meet each other, talk together and solve the relationship problems together. If God has reconciled you to himself, then show this by the principles of reconciliation you learn from God and show towards others. This building of relationships, solving problems together, should be our daily way of life.
And when elders of both communities help and serve their own youth, giving them a better hope for their future, instead of us elders serving ourselves, then our communities will have real hope. The problem isn’t always the “enemy neighbour,” but sometimes it is us. Sometimes we as elders don’t serve our own youth, but leave them impoverished, and then we blame others, giving our youth others to pursue, to take the blame from ourselves. Even without “enemies” from other ethnic or religious groups, we still divide against ourselves, not providing a future for our own youth, proving that the real enmity is often in our own hearts.
Peace comes as we build hope into our social relationships with our neighbours, and as we also build hope into our youth, by caring for them and making sure they have a future, and that the youth also build relationships with their neighbouring youth as well. Our youth must learn vocational skills and learn loving relationships with those in our nation who are different to themselves. We must teach our youth these things.
One more point about our agriculture. Let it not become dominated by big corporations, but by village landowners and families. If corporations want to sell farming produce on a larger scale, let them buy it from the local farmers, rather than buy the land in bulk. But it’s better still if locals sell their produce themselves, cutting out big corporations that have the power to manipulate prices. Let the locals still be the landowners and the farmers of the produce. Only farmers know the long-term value of their own land and will keep it in good fertility for future generations. Predatory capitalism doesn’t care for the wellbeing of land or of people but treats them as mere factors in production. The governments’ role is to protect communities, rather than capitulate to larger financial powers.
If corporations buy large areas of land and put the local communities out of their land, our whole society is impoverished by family breakdown, estranged family relationships and homelessness. Agricultural practices must enhance the wellbeing of local rural family and community, not displace it for the sake of “efficiency” and temporary profits. This was taught to us by the Old Testament Jubilee laws, which returned land to the local people, keeping it out of the hands of the larger financial powers, as land was dominated by Pharaoh in Egypt. God wasn’t teaching us tribalism in these Jubilee laws, but he was showing us his heart towards all our families, from all our tribes. A nation that puts family welfare first will be a nation that is sustained in wholeness and will flourish.
It’s like importing clothes from abroad, putting local small-scale fashion designers out of business. What we want is strong local business and strong local families, not super rich corporations destroying communities, employing people one day, taking away their jobs and livelihood the next day. Building families and rural community brings economic and social justice to our nation, which brings peace.