Changing the World One Step at a Time

Across the world, news is circulating. From Syria, to Ukraine – If anyone calls current events in Ukraine a civil war, don’t believe them. This has been a war between the Ukrainian people and elements of their government, a battle for their freedom and against tyranny and dictatorship. Much more like a revolution.

It started like a carnival, a peaceful demonstration, an expression of people’s will to join the European Union and shift away from Russia. But the Ukrainian Woodstock was over very soon. Then the troops moved in and death took over.

This was no longer a carnival. This was war. On Feb. 18, the war reached its “bloodiest peak.”

And in Syria,  Reuters reports that world powers have passed a landmark Security Council resolution demanding “an end to restrictions on humanitarian operations in Syria,” but aid workers doubt it has the punch to make Damascus grant them access and let stuck convoys deliver vital supplies.

President Bashar al-Assad’s administration and, to a lesser extent, rebels fighting to overthrow him have been accused of preventing food and medical care from reaching a quarter of a million people in besieged areas.

Russia, Assad’s ally on the Security Council, and China have vetoed three resolutions that would have condemned him or threatened sanctions since Syrian forces cracked down on a pro-democracy uprising in 2011 that has since turned into a civil war. More than 140,000 have been killed in the fighting, which has forced half the population to flee from their homes.

Saturday’s resolution promised unspecified “further steps” if Damascus does not comply.

And at Gannon University? We prepare for spring break with midterms and packing to go away. Somehow the comparison leaves us grasping for more, or possibly even struggling to enjoy the break we have all earned through our hard work. The harsh reality is in small ways, we don’t deserve this break; that’s a difficult concept to accept but it still remains true. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, soon to be Saint Mother Theresa, once wrote reflections on working toward peace; these works have gone on to be the fruit and center of many activists’ actions across the world. In them she writes, “The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace.”

Let us not use bombs and guns to overcome the world. Let us use love and sympathize. Peace begins with a smile. Smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at; do it for peace. Let us radiate the peace of God and extinguish hatred and love for power in the world and in the hearts of all men all.

Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other – that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister. If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you think we would still need tanks and generals?

Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.

Today, nations put too much effort and money into defending their borders. They know very little about the poverty and the suffering that exist in the countries where those bordering on destitution live. If they would only defend these defenseless people with food, shelter and clothing, I think the world would be a happier place.

The poor must know that they are loved and wanted. They themselves have nothing to give but love. We are concerned with how to get this message of love and compassion across. We are trying to bring peace to the world through our work. But the work is the gift of God.

Gannon students are traveling across the nation and across the globe to take the gospel messages of love and charity in their Alternative Break Service trips. They are all choosing to make intentional decisions to give of their time and care for each other. We should all take time out of our spring breaks to give back and remember that “we belong to each other.”

God bless and take care.



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