The Nobel Committee has reminded the world again of the importance and fragility of peace. In awarding this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, the committee shocked the world and gave it a history lesson.
Minds suddenly went racing back to the first half of the 20th century when two devastating wars ripped apart the continent. Millions, literally millions, of people died. Many others suffered. And the toll was felt around the world.
In being honored for decades of peace since World War II, Europe’s current struggles were placed into a new context. The European Union is about more than the Euro and financial problems. It is about knitting together nations that once had a well-established history of conflict, brutal conflict.
Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for its role in reconciling France and Germany in the decades after World War II, and incorporating Spain, Portugal and Greece after the collapse of their authoritarian regimes in the 1970s, the Council on Foreign Relations reported. “Jagland challenged the twenty-seven-nation group (FT) to shift its focus to the Balkan countries, where Croatia is on the verge of membership. The award comes as the bloc struggles to resolve one of its deepest crises in history, as debt woes, unemployment, and social unrest threaten the very structure of the union itself (AP).”
History makes it clear that it is possible for the world to explode in conflict. Most people alive today have no personal memory of what it means for the whole world to be at war.
My 85-year-old dad has maintained since President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism that we have not really been at war because it has had little effect on the daily lives of most people. Most of us still drive our cars where we want to go, eat the food we want to eat, and entertain ourselves to excess. That was not the case during World War II. This is a different kind of war now, but we fool ourselves if we think this is really what war is like.
John Lennon famously wrote, “Give peace a chance.” We don’t need to just give peace a chance; we need to work to make peace a reality, not just on the European and North American continents, but around the world.
War is terrible and devastating. The Nobel Committee has reminded us that peace is a paramount goal. This is a message we followers of the Prince of Peace should easily grasp, for Christ emphasized that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
A prayer: Dear God, help those of us who follow Christ to have the strength to fight for peace in a world that too often has suffered war.