Guest column/Peace, love can bring great power to mankind

“Man, since the beginning of time, has sought peace,” declared Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Indeed there have been noteworthy efforts to attain that objective.

But another famous general, Charles deGaulle, observed: “The sword is the axis of the world.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

What a paradox of these three statements and all of them are accurate.

Peace, however men may define it, has been sought after. But the sword has more usually been used to resolve differences between nations. It is my understanding that North Korea and South Korea are talking because of the Olympics, but challenges abound on both sides. At least the talk of peace is in the air once again, even while dozens of conflicts continue to be waged. The world has been witnessing a rustle of activity in the form of proposed cease-fires, withdrawals and forced negotiations.

There are two kinds of peace — perfect peace, for which no historic examples exist, and a realistic peace that includes human ambition, vanity and jealousies. But this kind of human-devised peace does not last for long. Mere cessation of hostilities or withdrawals for national self-interests are not the basis for a realistic peace. When a reluctant protagonist views negotiations as “more deadly than poison” peace cannot be the result. Nor are tit-for-tat disarmament measures the equivalent of the mutual trust essential for lasting peace.

Again, the words of Gen. MacArthur: “The problem basically is theological and involves … improvement of human character. … It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” Again, Dr. Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Peace in the next half-decade? It won’t happen without a fundamental change in human motives — a change human beings by themselves are not capable of. Only the creator God can bring that about, but not just yet. Humans have yet to learn some important lessons before any perfect peace can occur.

Modern Man’s sense of identity is increasingly focused in the idea of power. We have “black power” and “white power,” “parent power,” and “child power” even “dog and cat power.”

It would be interesting to trace the rise of the power concept. No doubt three developments out of the past 200 years were crucial: The struggle for independence among the 13 American colonies, the gradual attainment of labor self-consciousness and the Civil Rights Movement. The first brought in the idea of “power to the people,” the second, that of power for all workers, and the third, power to all people.

With the first two ideas the structure of medieval life came crashing down. Man had become modern; power was his. Neither monarch nor pop could ever hope to have quite the same sway over men again. Even where the iron rod could subdue the body, man knew he had the right to be free. The third idea gave them not only the right but the mental thought that he is free.

So every group in our society struggling to win acceptance or toleration speaks of its “power.” These are days of collective action, the clenched fist raised aloft, the slogan, the march, the demonstration, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. This past week as part of the Golden Globe awards we heard about the “Me Too” movement. And these days are here to stay.

The United States has become greatly dependent upon electrical power. The past few years have shown what happens when cities or large sections of the country are deprived of electrical power. Darkness reigns. Elevators stop moving in skyscrapers. Furnaces and air conditioners, computers and adding machines, ranges and refrigerators, washers and dryers, lathes and welding machines all fail to operate. Life comes to a near standstill. These power failures have caused officials to take a close look at the situation. We have been informed that some parts of the nation face a drastic shortage of power in the near future. Yet ecologists have made us aware that every known type of power plant creates grave problems because of environment pollution. So modern man faces a problem: How can he get the power that he needs and wants without the process destroying the world in which he lives?

The greatest power that mankind needs is the power of love. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday we will celebrate this week, shared a number of things about the power of love. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He went on to say, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” I believe he was correct when he said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Only real love can produce real peace. That’s real power. Let me close with one of his most famous sayings, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

(Cummings is pastor at Bethlehem Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly in Weirton.)