“You must eliminate wars or they will eliminate you,” former US president Bill Clinton is reported to have warned. True, but what needs to be done to eliminate wars? What it is that necessitates and feeds wars? The history of the world is replete with instances in which waging of wars is justified in certain extraordinary circumstance.

Rhetoric apart, the prevalent global economic and political systems have within them all that will necessarily lead to conflicts, or wars of a nature which are unprecedented thus far.

Violence erupts when an individual or nation has been pushed to the wall with no options to secure rights. The silence of the victim is construed as peace and tranquillity, obedience is considered as patriotism and good citizenship, and temporary withdrawal is interpreted as defeat by oppressors who see no threat from any quarter.

Their sense of security has origins in the structures put in place to protect and promote their economic and social interests. They think they can do anything at will with impunity. These are all false assumption.

Structures are, no doubt, durable and impersonal but not impregnable. They stand as long as they are supported by the invisible force of justice. Structures may be thought of as paper money. It has value so long as it enjoys the backing of the state.

Unfortunately, the world has lost sight of justice as a force that binds people together in harmony. Strangely, new structures are erected to cure the previous ills but such attempts are generally aimed at putting old wine in a new bottle.

The present economic and political systems serve the interests of a few at the cost of the many. Supranational institutions, such as the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank, are promoting the interests of those who enjoy economic and technological power.

A huge population around the world is suffering from curable diseases, hunger and injustice. The ongoing economic prosperity is not sustainable for two reasons. One, there is climate change as a result of overexploitation of natural resources and, two, the distribution of wealth is skewed, with the result that there is a growing divide between the rich and the poor. Both these factors may ultimately prove catastrophic for humanity as a whole.

Now the choice is ours. We can make the world a better place to live in by replacing the prevalent systems to ensure sustainable development for all. It is absurd to expect durable peace and sustainable development when the dominant thinking is not changed which believes in survival of the fittest by exploiting the disadvantaged people and the nature.

By: M Zeb Khan
The writer teaches at FAST-NU, Peshawar. Email: zeb.khan@nu.edu.pk

“RETARDED” GRANDPARENTS

After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils, third- graders, how they spent their holiday away from school.

One child wrote the following:

We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Arizona.

Now they live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass.
They ride around on their bicycles, and wear name tags, because they don’t know who they are anymore.
They go to a building called a wreck center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now, they do exercises there, but they don’t do them very well.
There is a swimming pool too, but they all jump up and down in it with hats on.
At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out, and go cruising in their golf carts.
Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night – early birds.
Some of the people can not get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center for pot luck.
My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and, says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too.
When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out, so they can visit their grandchildren.

Burned Biscuits

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my
Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at
school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite.

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits.”

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired, and besides a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone”

Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is one of the most important keys to creating a
healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker.

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship.

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket – keep it in your own.”

So Please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine. And PLEASE pass this along to someone who has enriched your life.

Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

“Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point.”