peace questions

last night, aida santos and the company of la liga fellows were listening to pancho lara discuss  the conflict situation in  ARMM .pancho said the culture of peace cannot be simply invoked in finding a solution to the war. ” where are the women in the conflict?”  i whispered to aida. “if the male-dominated clans hold the main power in ARMM and they are at the heart of  violence, there must surely be women in their clans who want to stop the violence and think about peace?’ “surely there are women who think of the consequences of engaging in  violent, even criminal activities. eg. gun running, smuggling, kidnapping, drug production and distribution.” “yes, we should ask what roles women play in the search for solutions to a durable peace ?’ replied aida.

i looked back at the long history of the Moros and their struggle for identity in our country. i wanted to raise a point about the invisibility of women during the discussion into what fuels the war on the ground  but i kept my question since i wanted to listen more. pancho narrated several things about the conflict : ‘that the central state in ARMM is weak and only a few clans wield power”; that if the peace advocates were to solve the conflict, they have to deal with the key clans, not just the rebel groups like MILF and NPAs ; that the clans extract resources  from their own “criminal economies” ( using bong mendoza’s term and not pancho’s) and even the central state cannot stop these clans from running criminal activities without  a new strategy towards  eliminating “lootable  resources “.

if these were true ( and i believe them to be so), how are we going to build a peaceful nation with the ARMM as part of it? then my mind went on to think about the palestinians and jews in gaza. if clans hold the solution to stopping the violence in ARMM, who holds the key to peace in gaza?

i remember a childhood friend, dondoy nava, who went to israel in the 70’s to join the kibbutz as we  joined the anti-dictatorship movement in 1972.  “You go wage the red revolution while i go for the ideal commune” quipped dondoy .dondoy  wanted to experience living in a commune and believed that the kibbutz would teach him the lessons he sought in life. when we saw him again in 2008, he told us that he found his life’s purpose in Israel, “I married an Israelite woman who is my soulmate.  I have children who serve in  the Israel army,”Dondoy shared . “My youngest son is at the top of his class as a sharpshooter.” “oh, he must be a fine man .” I enthused.

now  i can imagine his son at the helm of the fighting troops, maybe walking through the streets of Gaza with his latest weapon. as i imagine his parents feeling protective and anxious for his safety, i also remember a dear friend, Magda (not her real name), in Gaza. i met Magda in Ankara,Turkey and she shared her life with us. Magda works with the Palestinian youth and they established a parliament of the streets after staging the Intifada.” the youth learn why there is war from life, but we want them to learn they could build democracy only when there is peace.”  i highlighted a point  pancho stressed  :”there is more conflict in the post-conflict period” , i ask myself  “could magda and the Palestinian women and youth find a way to solving some of the violence in Gaza, knowing there will be more conflict in the post-conflict future?”

so many questions on the war, on violence, on durable peace. i dont know the answers but as dan sullivan said of lifetime growth ‘ make your questions bigger than your answers’, i will keep posing questions in the hope of finding  doors towards stopping violence and ending wars.

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