Today is August 7. This has been a week full of anniversaries and events related to war and violence. On August 4, 1914 Britain and Canada entered World War 1. More than 16 million people died, over one third of them civilians. It was to be the war to end all wars but instead it laid the groundwork for an even deadlier war less than a generation later. In World War 2 more than 60 million people lost their lives. The war ended shortly after the USA dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Almost one quarter of a million people died in these cities, just in these two days!
Earlier this week on August 5 a three day humanitarian cease fire was announced between the Israeli government and Hamas, a militant group in Gaza. In the past month 1875 Palestinians have died (most of them civilians) along with 67 Israelis (most of them soldiers). After two days the fragile truce is holding, but neither side seems very interested in negotiating with the other. How much more blood needs to be shed before we look for another way?
Although the situation is not physically violent and no one is afraid of losing their life, we have a local conflict between two intransient parties that has also been dragging on. Tomorrow, on August 8, representatives of the BC government and the BC Teachers Union will sit down to determine whether they can negotiate a resolution, so that the children of our province can go back to school in a few weeks.
What is common in all conflicts, from international wars to local unions, is that people find it difficult to see things from the other’s perspective. I am not a mediation expert—and I realize there is long and hard work to do—but as a Christian theologian I pray the same attitude of mind Jesus Christ had [See Philippians 2:1-11] for my own life, for labor negotiators, and for powerful leaders of nations who hold people’s lives in their hands. I pray that all people involved will not only look to their own interests but to the interests of others, and to value others as fellow human beings created in God’s image. May August 10 be a day of hope.