A reader, Justin, had written to Commander Andy in an article published in the Global Concord of Wednesday 20th March 2013, asking why it is difficult to attain peace in the world in spite of Christ's promise of giving us peace or leaving us with His peace, though “not as the world gives”.

Andy, in his usual candid response, enumerated a number of factors responsible for the conflicts and lack of peace in the world. I share almost all of his sentiments.

But there is, to my mind, some other key reasons my respected friend forgot to also mention, one of which is lack of justice. The Dictionary of Contemporary English defines justice as “fairness in the way people are treated and the quality of being right and deserving fair treatment.”

The question then is what is fairness? Fairness is a way of treating people, or when judgment seems right and acceptable; treating everyone in a way that is right or equal.

Equality in this case appears a little more complex than ordinarily considered. For it does not mean that everybody is equal in status or in social or political standing in the society; it means instead that the application of instruments of justice such that what favour or punishment accrues to A is also applicable to B if they commit the same offence or are entitled to the same reward for doing that which is considered right.

I am sure my brother Justin would answer the question well enough if asked whether there is justice or not in the society we all live in today. As an American song composer once observed “there is no justice in this world anymore, sometimes I ask myself what I am living for”. In other words, man should live for justice, pursue justice in all ways and ensure justice to all manner of persons and even in the extreme case be ready to die for justice.

The question of justice or lack of it can be stretched to any possible limit in treating the issue of lack of peace in the world today.

Another one of the main causes of conflicts on earth today is regrettably religion. The issue of religion and beliefs has done so much to keep the world on tenterhooks. The unnecessary rivalry among the various religions which sometimes turn violent is a constant source for worry. If religion is a channel to God and if we all are worshipping the same Almighty God, why should we kill one another in the name of adherence to beliefs and teachings? Even within the same religion say Christianity itself, there is no love lost between the various denominations as they compete and fight with each other over our pockets but not over our souls.

The Islamic adherents are the worst culprits in religious violence as they kill, maim and destroy in the name of defending the same God (Allah). In Iraq today, both religious and ethnic wars have turned the country into a theatre of daily terror attacks, killing and destroying both human and properties. The same theatre is going on in the Maghreb and Sahel regions of Africa. Mali is currently engulfed in religious and ethnic war. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram fundamentalists have since turned the once relatively peaceful country into religious battlefield. Imagine a suicide bomber driving and ramming explosive laden vehicle into a Bus Station killing over 50 people, injuring many others and setting ablaze over 5 vehicles in one swoop. Reason: convert to Islam or get killed, they seem to be saying.

Permit me to agree in totality with Commander Andy when he declared that Christ did not refer to the whole world when he made the statement quoted by Justin above in respect of giving His peace to the world. Christ could not have given the whole world peace since he knew that with the way man was and is still going, nothing could back-track him from condemnation and destruction when the final trumpet sounds for judgment call. The fault is in our interpretation of every statement made by Christ as applying to everybody whether they face similar situation or not. As it stands, we apply those favourable statements to ourselves while ascribing the curses and condemnations to the people who lived with Him then. What a contradiction!

Let's go back to the issue of Justice. There is absolutely no peace in any part of the world today. Check it out and see for yourself: A recent report has indicated that North Korea is simulating attacks on key buildings like Capitol Hill, The Pentagon and even the seat of power, The White House in the US. The simple meaning of this is that North Korea is preparing and can launch nuclear attacks from its backyard, on key institutions in the US. If this is not frightening enough, then what about the prospects of Iran completing the enrichment of its nuclear programme for war purposes? Israel on the other hand, has issued warnings that it would soon launch pre-emptive attacks on all nuclear installations in Iran to prevent Iran from using it to attack them. President Assad of Syria is locked in a survival civil war that has so far claimed almost 70,000 lives of his citizens and still counting. Hundreds of thousands of them have fled their homes, living in refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon. Assad is certainly going to better the records of his father who was reported to have killed over 100,000 citizens during his reign!

The entire earth is undergoing tremendous pressure arising from poor handling of economies fashioned in a manner that does not guarantee justice to all but seeks to protect a few rather than majority. The world is witnessing unprecedented crisis in every human endeavours as a result of deficient justice and legal systems. It is similarly experiencing conflicts that emanate from formulation and implementation of wrong or weak policies, be it in economy, politics, and social services; and even in education –thereby creating class barriers rather than seek to bridge them. These policies sometimes result ultimately in undue interferences with God's purpose for man. They inadvertently produce inequality and maintain the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor even in the social and legal systems. There is pressure due to unemployment of vast majority of people as they have been led by heartless and uncaring leaders, whose only interests are looting and acquiring wealth at the expense of the people they lead; these being products of injustice. And more importantly, the world is in turmoil because our so-called religious leaders do not preach and practice justice. They have abandoned their duty post in search of earthly inheritance using the instrumentalities of religion.

It is disheartening and surprising that in spite of all these upheavals, man has not found the need to seek for God's direction not in empty ranting called prayers but in deep meditations. We have left God out of His works and can therefore not find the key to peaceful world.

Man has completely detached himself from the path that leads to God in preference to that which seems to guarantee earthly pleasures.

Our economic system has not given God any role rather trusting in the intelligence of academic achievements of man. Our political and social systems have been structured leaving God out in preference to man's wisdom. One wonders; why have all the economic, political and social theories failed man such that all parts of the globe are going through one conflict or the other? Some parts of the world have tried unsuccessfully to practice socialism; it crashed. Others have tried capitalism, the result is equally catastrophic while yet others have applied communism with no real improvement in man's welfare. There are those who have similarly adopted what they called “mixed economy” that is also not taking citizens in those countries anywhere.

Regrettably, all the above listed failures have not touched man to realize the fact that the real missing link in their theories is the question: “what does God want us to do?” when formulating or applying different policies.

Forget the inventions and discoveries in science and technology by man. In spite of the giant strides that humanity has recorded in this direction, it still leads us back to the same spot as each invention solves one problem while creating many more.

There is no economic or political/social system in the world that does not present its sets of daunting challenges, prompting political leaders to expectedly return to their laboratories for yet more theories.

Truth is God is Justice and nobody or society or nations could trample on justice of its people and expect to have any near perfect system of government that could ensure justice and ultimately peace.

So long as the system of government is unjust, producing leaders who are equally unjust, there will never be peace. Peace we all need but nobody wants to ensure that all channels to peaceful co-existence are left open and unfettered though not in a disorderly and unlawful way.

A man Alfred Nobel in 1875 had invented dynamites. When he realized the terrible and destructive uses that his invention has been put to, he asked himself “is this what the world would remember me for – an inventor of instrument of mass destruction?” When he died in 1896, he left much of his wealth as expressed in his Will for the establishment of “The Nobel Peace Prize”, seeking to persuade people to abandon the use of his discovery for wars but to instead pursue peace. Since the institution of that prize – “The Nobel Peace Prize” - has the world not gone millions of miles ahead to produce even more deadly weapons? There are other positive uses of dynamite even in the oil/extractive industry. But how has man used the invention? He has principally deployed it to deadly and destructive uses. Does this satisfy God's intention? I don't know the answer any more than you do.

If man has devoted his life to peace the way he does to other pursuits, one basic foundation that would not have been missing is Justice. It is lack of justice that has prompted people to resort to other means of self help resulting in conflicts of various kinds today.

Leaders loot, plunder and cart away the common wealth of the entire citizens leaving them to clutch the air. The citizens get no justice when the offenders escape the legal system with their loots and use them again to oppress the same owners of this wealth. How can there be peace?

How can there be peace when nations relate with one another on the basis of first, second and third worlds and not on the basis of each country being inhabited by humans; recognizing only their technological breakthroughs in earth-bound inventions as real advancement for classification into any of the worlds?

As already observed by Commander Andy, there is no love in the heart of men for one another. There never will be.

The question is: between Love and Justice which one would you prefer if asked to choose from any of the two? I would prefer that you give me justice since I'm pretty sure man is not capable of loving. You don't need to love me to show justice. You may pretend to love me but that love would have to be put to test when the issue of showing justice arises.

In recent times, people have demonstrated in the streets demanding justice not love for victims of various abuses. In war, there are rules of engagement; one of which demands that a prisoner of war be treated fairly. It is not love that one shows to an enemy when this rule is observed. It is justice.

Back here at home in Akwa Ibom State, the situation is worse than can ever be imagined as our self styled “uncommon transformer” is busy assaulting the psyche and sensibilities of people in a brazen manner, donating and frittering away resources meant for all; stashing away loots that generations of his unborn great grand children would never finish even if they do not work their entire lives. Meanwhile people are ravaged by hunger, diseases and poverty of no mean order in his now infamous “kingdom”. Imagine donating N1million to each State PDP chairmen for “Mr Biggs”, N50 million for Goodluck Jonathan award jamboree and wait for this - N230million for a church in President Jonathan's home!

Sadly, President Goodluck Jonathan looks on, applauding the plunderer as he moves from one tragedy of governance misplaced and misapplied to another. The Security agencies that ought to rise to the needs of the time appear too dazed or is it too involved to move in defence of the law so that justice would be served.

Can there be peace in a state where the majority is plagued by hunger and deprivation while one intruder in the name of a governor, squanders their resources in a most reckless manner? Is there justice for the people when a man who should be a role model and guardian of the people's conscience decides to be a gangster, robbing people of their resources in broad daylight? He keeps himself and members of his immediate family in filthy comfort while denying the rest of us means of basic existence. This certainly does not show justice.

He does not need to love to know that he is stealing my share of the common wealth but he must understand the need and compulsion to show justice. He once claimed that he hates injustice but ask me what form of justice would permit a governor to squander the commonwealth of the people the way he does.

If one reads the statement by Eugene Kennedy again and again, it would be easy to deduct that what he actually referred to was justice when he said and I quote in part “….. and the man who discovers that what he has been given is to be given in turn to others, has come close to discovering the (true) meaning of life itself”. I can find no other interpretation as befitting as saying that the comfort and other necessities of life that you have been offered is also to be given to others. That to me is justice in display. This is exactly what I am saying in a more elementary language.

Finally, it is pertinent to advise that the issue of justice must start from the foundation of the society itself – the family. A deprived child most times finds fulfillment in anti social behaviours leading to poor leadership qualities in future. One cannot give what he does not have so the child that was denied justice even during his/her upbringing can never be a good leader. Two examples will suffice here: there was once a Military Governor of old Kaduna State, Yohana Madaki, who spent his tenure fighting the traditional establishment in his state of assignment, claiming that it (the traditional establishment) forcefully deprived his father of his bicycle. He left no stone unturned in wanting to pay back as he deposed Emirs as he wished.

Here in Akwa Ibom State, a governor had vowed to destroy an entire ethnic group – the Ibibios - for, according to him, forcefully dispossessing his uncle of his machete. (He did not say why his uncle was dispossessed of the machete - possibly he used it violently). He subsequently declared war on the Ibibios and their interests and went ahead to practically give live to his earlier threat. But he comfortably ignored the fact that his uncle had also benefited from the generosity of the Ibibios in no small measure. Talk of deprived (I won't say depraved) childhood!

Here is why our family system must always preach and practice justice. This is the only way justice will be allowed to take its root in our lives such that it will be almost impossible to deny us that prizeless gift of nature – Justice.

E Y E N I S O N G.
Email: [email protected]

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Articles by Eyenisong Ibibio