by Max Ediger
A few weeks back I had the very delightful experience of spending a weekend with my granddaughter and some of her extended family. Santhi Rumnea, or Happy Peace, is the one-year-old daughter of a Cambodian family that “adopted” me several years ago.
I do not get to see Happy Peace often so she is still not comfortable with me, but occasionally she did allow me to hold her. At this age she is demanding her independence and would rather walk than be carried. She can be very stubborn when she wants something, a trait she inherited from her father. But she is a very happy child, a trait I think she inherited from her grandfather.
I was very impressed at the love and care Happy Peace is receiving from her extended family. They looked after her with so much affection so I do not fear about her well-being in her growing-up years.
At the end of that wonderful weekend, I returned to my home in Phnom Penh and turned on the television to watch the latest news. Almost immediately I was confronted with pictures of children in war-torn Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen. Their faces, filled with terror and pain, were an unbearable contrast to the smiling face of Happy Peace who has yet not experienced any real fear.
I cannot see the traumatized faces of children in countries where war has become so common in the past few years without feeling great anxiety about the future of Happy Peace. Will she grow up in a world where walls are built to separate her from others? Will she be denigrated because she is a young woman, or because of her religion or skin color? Will she have to experience the hell of war because leaders she has never met or voted for cannot find a constructive way of dealing with differences? Will bombs fall on her house, or will men verbally and physically abuse her because that is “just the way men are?”
Yes, I have great fear for Happy Peace and the future she will grow up in. But I have learned over the years that, while fear is a very normal emotion, it must never be allowed to control our thoughts or actions. I wish to let hope be my passion and I know that in this very confused, chaotic and dangerous world, there are many, many other people with this same passion. I have chosen to believe that God has given us all the wisdom we need to build a world of justpeace that will replace the world of xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, prejudice and hatred that often seems to prevail. We will do it slowly and there will be set backs, but with faith that God has a beautiful plan for this world we can pick ourselves up and continue with courage and indefatigable hope because in the end we know that the power of God’s love is stronger than the hostility of the world.
For the future of Happy Peace and all the other children of the world, let us not give up hope and a passion for justpeace. I pray that her beautiful spirit for life will have space to grow and continue to bring joy to God’s beautiful creation. Keep smiling Santhi Rumnea. We are on your side.
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”(John 14:27 Living Bible)