Peace be to all men of good will
By John S. Shilshi
Keen followers of sports would recall that every cricket or hockey matches played between India and Pakistan were no less than the three wars fought so far. Players were psyched into believing that the encounters were no mere games of cricket or hockey, but wars that needed to be won at all cost. The run up to the matches usually were emotionally charged affairs, with media on either sides hyping up sentiments. Therefore, when the game were played, shout and screams from partisan crowd trading Zindabad Murdabad rant the air and displays of provocative banners and placards sent negative vibes all over. Even kids sitting and watching matches with parents soon get into the adult mold and learned how to hate each other as Indians and Pakistanis.
Fans on both sides behaved fanatically taking extreme steps even to their own peril. For example, a gentleman in Jhallandar who was frustrated by India conceding a 7- goals defeat to Pakistan in Asian games -1982 flung his transistor from a third floor house, unmindful about where it would land. A Cook in Delhi’s Chowni Chowk popular restaurant got so upset when Mohinder Amarnath was out for a duck in a match against Pakistan in 1987 Bangalore Test that he lifted a container full of cooked meat and poured it away into the drain. A businessman in Karachi smashed several television sets displayed in his electronic shop, when in 1999, Anil Kumle took all ten Pakistani wickets in a Delhi Test match. Also along the LOC, the end of every India/Pakistan match would eventually be followed by exchange of firing no matter which way the result went. Thus, with every encounter between the two teams, the animosity and dislike for each other increased.
A welcomed change however came about during the 2003-2004 India’s tour of Pakistan when few men of ‘good will’ amongst Pakistani supporter took a bold and remarkable step. They stitched up India Pakistan flags together and held it from a vantage point as sign of friendship. Equally positive minded television crew helped their cause by repeatedly focusing Cameras on these banners and saw to it that the bites reached millions of homes. So as it did, this small act proved to be a game changer as public perception changed considerably. From the 1st One Day International in Lahore to the end of the Test series, matches were played as it should be, and barring few exceptions, the media in Pakistan too began to write positive comments about the Indian players despite India winning the series. Even General Musharraf was magnanimous in his praise for the Indian team. A small step from few men of ‘good will’ thus made a beginning in doing away with aged-old mindset and from then, matches were no longer taken as wars, and over all atmospheres became less acrimonious.
In recent times, the danger of nuclear misadventure in the Asia Pacific region and the Korean peninsula assumed a threatening proportion. Besides embarking on Nuclear Missiles testing spree, North Korea vowed to hit the US mainland using Inter-continental Ballistic missiles should America contemplate any action against them. American on the other hand threatened to wipe out the Nuclear-enabled Communist country, with Donald Trump even indulging in name-calling Kim Jong-Un, nick-naming him as ‘Little Rocket man’ who needed to be shown the door. The tension was palpable and a misadventure of sort almost looked not too distant. So much so that experts on warfare - both Nuclear and conventional, even estimated that at least a million people would be wiped out of the earth’s face should the war eventually happen. They even talked of Kim Jong-Un possibly pumping in 10,000 rockets per minute over South Korea’s capital Seoul, and wiping out as many as 300,000 people on the first day itself. The international community therefore, was left guessing with bated breath how the mutual threats would actually unfold.
Divine providence however, seemed to have a different plan. Another man of ‘good will’ in the form of Moon Jea-in came to the scene as the President of South Korea. He won an unscheduled presidential election necessitated by the outcome of impeachment process against his predecessor. The very affable leader, whose smile radiates positivity that has the charm to tame even the most hardened adversaries, took the big leap to walk the talk. He met his North Korean counterpart not once, but twice despite some strong criticisms from his own people, accusing him of compromising the pride of the nation. The volatile political and war-like situation notwithstanding, he stood firmly believing in the ‘power of intention’ that Dr. Wayne Dyer talked about, and relentlessly strived to give Peace a chance. The rapport he established with his North Korean counterpart not only reduced tension between the two nations, but also helped him to broker the much-needed meeting between the American President and the North Korea leader in June 2018. This man of ‘good will’ thus averted a possible confrontation between two nuclear nations at least for the present.
In a world where close to 75% of its population is in conflict and instances of postponed crisis more prevalent than crisis averted through solutions, stories as these raise hope for a world with lesser conflict, if not free from conflicts. The contributions of all these men of ‘good will’ should therefore, be source of inspirations to work for peace. The message of Christmas, “peace be to all men of good will” (Luke.2: 14) is not only meant for Christians, but for all mankind on this earth. Therefore, it is that time of the year for us to look back and reflect on our deeds whether we have in some way contributed towards harmony among men. It is a time to resolve that we shall henceforth refrain from acting as agents of violence and hatred by spreading false propaganda and creating enmity between people. A time to be reminded of Julia Carney’s famous lines, “Little drops of water/Little grains of sand, makes the mighty ocean and the pleasant land”. Small contributions we make towards reducing conflicts in our families, community and society could lead us to making this world conflicts-free and a better place to live in. May peace be upon all men of ‘good will’. Merry Christmas & a very happy New year to all the readers.
(The writer is a retired IPS officer, now a strategic Analyst on internal security. Views expressed are personal)
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