In spite of numerous diplomatic snafus in the past six years, the U.S. is still working toward negotiating peace treaties around the world, including a complex one with Iran. Although the question of which countries have nuclear weapons affects everyone, it isn’t a subject that most people we see on the street are thinking about.
When the people in our neighborhoods hear about peace, or its absence, it’s more likely to be in the context of a place like Ferguson in Missouri. The kind of peace being negotiated there isn’t about nuclear weapons, but about the laws of the land and how they apply to everyone. Our justice system has to be just, it can’t be crooked. And we shouldn’t have to get to the point that the public is rioting and ruling by mob, for justice to be served. The laws of the land have to be stable and without question.
Sometimes when we recognize this, it’s already too late. In ancient Athens, its leadership didn’t realize the situation they were in until their political and justice system wound up being ruled by mob, became reactionary, and then Athens crumbled and Spartans conquered then. When we see warning signs today, our communities have to react due to unfair treatment as a signal, an alarm bell. It is up to our leadership to look at these things in detail, and make corrections when necessary.
And sometimes these corrections have nothing to do with racial profiling or the use of excessive force.
To establish a criteria and better level of justice and service, we also need to make sure that municipalities are not fining and taxing the public in order to stay in existence. Municipalities are not a profit center, and should never be used as one. Let us never see the day when we are posting online a map of towns that don’t uphold justice, but are depending on revenue from tickets for their annual budgets.
Having greater community involvement would help prevent this. Community involvement needs to play a role in oversight – and not just in police departments – to start creating peace, one step at a time.
But making peace is not just up to our communities and our leadership. Sometimes even the most unlikely person can effect international events. That person may be you, and it’s good to remember that one decision makes a difference. Recently I found myself involved in some aspects of international affairs when a visiting scientist from Iran who is doing research at Emory University found herself with a dental issue. Most of us may not realize that without insurance and proof of residency, it’s very difficult to get medical attention. Imagine you are a visiting scientist doing international research and you have a really bad toothache. For me it was an honor to be able to champion a cause for the greater good, and through several contacts we managed to get the letter from the university indicating the status of the visitor. With this letter my family dentist and close friend agreed to see her and provide the proper reference for the additional work (wisdom tooth removal – OUCH).
This young woman will return home in a few months and she will able to talk positively about her experience in the U.S., as well as being able to smile with no pain. A small bit of peace was developed with some understanding. Maybe it will take root and grow – from small resolutions like this one, to a better understanding between our U.S. and international communities. Even international peace is achieved one piece at a time.