A few years ago a friend who had lived though the Yugoslav war commented that the political ideology of who won didn’t matter, because ultimately things were going to be the same for the citizens. While many of us feel that who wins and their beliefs matter dearly, the truth is that as long as those in power resist, demean and ostracize opponents the war continues in peoples hearts and minds, even if it is quiet in the streets.
The same is true for the hours old peace agreement in the Ukraine. While the bloodshed has stopped for a moment, the true test is if peace has found a way to sprout in the hearts of the citizens. War, conflict, hate, intolerance can’t grow when people are at peace with themselves and their lives; it only thrives when people deny themselves and others the three basics of healthy citizenship:
- Freedom: to live as one wishes to live
- Security: to be a contributing member of a society that allows them the basics of life
- Respect: for their person, ideas and beliefs and those of all others
If people feel they are free to live lives where, at a minimum, their basic needs are met and they know that they will be respected for who they are and what they believe, peace is inevitable. To create these circumstances we have to be aware of these basic needs, to be grateful for our rights to them and to grant them to others–even to those with whom we don’t agree. And in doing so, peace will grow and spread faster than we can imagine–and this is my wish for the people of Ukraine.