Friday, December 27, 2013

Peace on Earth -- reporting from Vietnam

“True peace is not a balancing of opposing forces. It’s not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions...
Peace calls for daily commitment." 
 -- Pope Francis, Christmas Day 2013

As an American visiting Vietnam as a tourist, Pope Francis' words ring in my ears as our family tours first  the Cu Chi Tunnels (said to be over 200 km long) by which the Vietnamese evaded American military, and where now children - beautifully incongruously - scamper over tanks.

Life went on, underground, with systems for cooking, sewing, medical care, and the devising
of weapons to kill the "American enemy"... some of whom were neighbors to Wayne and I, growing up as American kids in the 1960's

At an entrance to the tunnel system, portions of which
have been enlarged so Western-sized tourists can enter.
 We then went to the War Remnants Museum, which grimly reminded us of the millions killed in the war and the on-going aftereffects of land mines and chemicals used on Vietnamese soil, causing human mutilation and birth defects.

Wayne and I are of an age where we well remember neighbors and church families sending off young men to fight what some at the time thought was a noble war for freedom, what others believed was a horrible mistake, what all knew was a war fought, like every war, at the terrible cost of God-beloved human lives.

 May the One we name the "Prince of Peace" make Christians the first and the foremost to embrace that "daily commitment" for peace in the New Year 2014.

So then let us pursue the things which make for peace 
and the building up of one another.
Romans 14:19

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