Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We Weep for the Loss of the Peacemakers: Richard Holbrooke

When I heard the news last night that Richard Holbrooke had died, I wept. Noisy, gasping tears. I had the same reaction in 1995 when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Some people weep when rock stars die, but I sob for the loss of peacemakers, who are so rare on our planet.

Most of us don't have the patience for peacemaking. It seems so much easier to declare war. We don't have to deal with all of those competing personalities and claims. We don't have to determine who is right when we declare war, because we've already declared that we are right.

Peacemakers have to listen. They have to be willing to fail and to try again. They have to wait patiently for the right moment to proceed. They have to always be alert. It's an Advent kind of profession: to declare the words of the ancient prophets (although perhaps in secular terms) and to always keep watch, to set free the captives, to comfort the oppressed, to beat swords into plowshares.

The Dayton Accords which brought peace to the former Yugoslavia were signed on this day in 1995 in Paris. I regret the loss of Richard Holbrooke for so many reasons, not the least of which is that if anyone could have brought peace to Afghanistan, it could have been him. But now it will not be him.

And so, on this Advent morning, I pray for the stars to stay in the sky, for new peacemakers to emerge from the darkness. On this feast day which celebrates the life of St. John of the Cross, I pray for freedom from whatever tiny cells hold us prisoner. During our dark nights of the soul, let us turn to God. Let us always thirst for peace--and may our thirst be quenched!

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