A Message of Peace

Building Inauguration Message

Jonas Antonio A. Bellosillo

The month of September has been officially designated as the month of peace. The 9th month of every year has been celebrated as Peace Month in the Philippines for the past 9 years. Ironically, it was in the 9th month of 2001 when the entire world was plunged into chaos and uncertainty due to the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps it is opportune to assign September as the month of peace in order to give us an opportunity to reflect on the turbulent events that have rocked the country, and the world, since the events of 9/11.

Peace continues to be elusive in the Philippines and abroad. Locally, our national government is still besieged by separatist groups and insurgents. Terrorist organizations continue to attack our peaceful communities with absolute disregard of both local and international law.

Outside of our shores, the entire world is still fighting the international war on terror. The war against terrorism had triggered two major wars in the 21st Century – the War in Afghanistan and the Second Iraq War. The United States has also branded three purported rouge states – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – as the new “Axis of Evil”, causing further agitation in international relations. Iran’s continued development of nuclear power is also quickly escalating into a possible conflict with Israel, which could lead to a new major war in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the peaceful Pacific front had also been disturbed by overtures of possible armed conflict. The recent territorial spat between China and its neighboring countries, including the Philippines, over certain territories such as the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal had caused serious diplomatic wounds among the Asian countries in the Pacific.

Throughout the world, and all over the Philippines, the threat of conflict is still very real and immediate. Religion, territory, resources, race and numerous other reasons have caused serious conflicts in almost all regions of the world. It has been more than a decade since 9/11, yet our world is still struggling to find a peaceful solution to our petty differences.

So why do we have the celebrate Peace Month? Why do we have to continue to spread the message of peace despite of the overwhelming conflicts that continue to disrupt order in our societies?

We celebrate Peace Month because we continue to hope. We spread the message of peace because we continue to believe.

The moment that we give in to despair is the moment that we bow down to pandemonium. We have to be idealistic despite of the very real threats that continues to beleaguer our nation. It is not a case of us being naïve or unrealistic; rather, it is a sign of faith, courage and determination. Tolerance can defeat bigotry. Understanding can overcome fundamentalism. Cooperation can upstage tribalism.

We may be ridiculed because of our continued belief that all humans, regardless of religion or race, could one day live in a peaceful society where differences are celebrated instead of fought over. We can one day learn to appreciate the very diversity that divides us. For in the end, no matter which name you call your deity, and no matter what the color of your skin is, we are all children of the Earth.

So whenever you are swept away by an overwhelming feeling of despair, and whenever you feel so alone in your belief of peaceful coexistence, remember that beneath our different skins is the same red blood that flows from the hearts of every human being. Continue to hope and dream of peace. To borrow some words from John Lennon’s Imagine, they may say that you’re a dreamer, but you’re not the only one. If enough people will join us, then the world will learn to live as one.

I continue to hope, believe and dream of peace, and I am certain that my faith is shared by most of humanity.