Thursday, August 31, 2006

Utopian Apocalyptic and Real: a Decalogue for peace in the Middle East

I recently read in one of Terry Pratchett's novels the saying that it is easy to see things that aren't real; the tricky thing is to see the things that are really real.

In an essay entitled "For a Definitive Peace Settlement in the Middle East: Toward a Middle East Union", Fr Samir Khalil Samir SJ outlines of vision that is utopian, apocalyptic, and yet perhaps the only real chance of peace for the Middle East.

He begins with the most amazing statement:

"Everyone lost. Praise be to God!"

The fact that no one "won the war", was a good thing in Fr Samir's eyes, because it " allowed millions of people to see that violence is useless, and that this area will not be pacified by means of war."

While on the one hand, he says that "a perfect solution" to the situation in the Middle East "does not exist", and that "it is necessary to seek and pursue the least imperfect of solutions possible", the 10 point solution he outlines is nothing short of the utopian vision that puts one in mind of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech.

And why not? If the descendants of black slaves can live as equal citizens in the United States, and if the ancient enemies, France and Germany can live in the one European Union, why could not "the wolf be a guest of the lamb and the leopard lie down with the kid" (Is 11:6)?

Fr Samir, like Terry Pratchett, believes that sometimes we have to be able to see the real things that (as far as common sense is concerned) "aren't there", if we are to achieve the reality that we seek. Or to put it as he does: "Realism consists in having a utopian vision in order to be able to realise it."

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