Let’s Put Efforts into Peacemaking, International Diplomat Urges
By E. Obiri Addo
“We live in a troubled world, but it is still God’s world. Humankind should be partners with God to bring peace to the world”.
Professor Andrea Bartoli, Dean of the School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University, South Orange in New Jersey made this urgent call at a recent public lecture organized by First Presbyterian and Trinity Church in South Orange. In addition to his deanship, Dr. Bartoli is an expert in conflict resolution. He has served in trouble spots around the world including the Balkans, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The theme for the presentation was “Efforts in Advancing Peace Making in a Very Troubled World.” Dr. Bartoli stated that peace making begins with God. When Jesus on the cross said, “Father, forgive them…” he was replacing conflict with peace in a troubled time.
He observed that many people don’t even make the effort at all, and so we see cycles upon cycles of violence in our world. “Peace making involves gratitude. In gratitude we are invited to reveal God’s presence to one another. Yet we live in a world where we rather tend to create barriers,” he noted. Such an attitude prevents meaningful encounters which are essential to the peace making process. He illustrated this point with the Biblical story of the “Prodigal Son.” “The prodigal moved away, yet his future was in the father. Consider how many times the father looked out for his return”. Dr. Bartoli lamented that the world shares a very painful history, and religion has been a source of most conflicts. “The largest number of slayings in England at one time was carried out by Presbyterians,” he recalled.. He suggested that one practical way to make peace is to listen to the poor. “Listening to the poor is listening to God, because it takes a great effort to do so. Many people are invisible to us. Let’s pay attention to them,” he stressed. He added that the “Good Samaritan” was not good until he showed mercy to someone in need. “Pay attention to the poor; they’ll make you good”, he quipped.
Professor Bartoli cited Mozambique’s efforts and experience at peace making as “a gift to the world.” He explained that after a long experience with colonial imposition followed by anti-colonial and civil wars, the people of Mozambique “learned the discipline of being responsible for one another.” He added that after one million deaths it was hard to talk about peace. “Yet 125 different groups realized the need to be responsible for another’s peace. If peace is possible in Mozambique, it is possible anywhere,” he stressed, adding, “Mozambique re-engaged itself through peace making.” Dr. Bartoli concluded that human beings can create structural violence, yet human beings can also make creative efforts to reverse violence. “The world needs to be healed. People should be willing to invest in peace making.”
The lecture was the second in an annual series initiated by the church leadership a year ago to honor two distinguished community leaders, Drs. Manley and Yamba. Dr. Yamba is President Emeritus of Essex County College, while Dr. Robert Manley is the founder and President of the Center for Global Responsibility, a non-government organization. He is also a former professor of political science at Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.