Appreciating the state of peace today

Friday May 01, 2015 Written by Vaine Wichman Published in Weekend
Members of the Returned Services Association’s dawn parade stood proudly to remember all the brave men and women that fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. Members of the Returned Services Association’s dawn parade stood proudly to remember all the brave men and women that fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Development Economist Vaine Wichman has worked extensively throughout the country as a development economist. She began writing this column in response to women and men who asked her to explain the working of the economy. Views in this column are Vaine’s.

Last Saturday we commemorate the 100th year of the first joint Australian and New Zealand Army Corp campaign.

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers (Pacific Islanders included) formed part of an allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. 

Though that campaign was not successful it had a profound effect on Australians, New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders. 

Since then the sacredness of the 25th of April each year has been enshrined in some Pacific countries legislation as a day of remembrance of the ANZAC’s who lost their lives in all military operations since then.

Narrowed down history advises that countries have gone to war for two main reasons: to better their way of life; and to protect their way of life.  

So the peace we enjoy today between ourselves and other countries is based on the outcomes of various wars and how our country has aligned with those countries. 

This is why in their wisdom; our initial leaders left the constitutional responsibilities to defend our shores with our main trading, employment and development partner New Zealand.

So what is the price of peace? 

Peace - to capture its essence needs some definition. 

In the Cook Islands, peace could be a state of mind, family position, village platform, or island consensus to live respectfully together. 

But do we as a nation really appreciate the state of peace we enjoy today, based on efforts by sons and daughters involved in ensuring national security and international alliances and obligations to the war effort.

Families that have members that have been involved in the two world wars, or tours of duties in allied arrangements, would be better to tell us the details of the price paid. 

The soldiers absent from home for periods of time to help maintain stability and peace off shore war zones. 

The nature of war, and the threat of death and the loss and gap in family trees that happens.

Or the effort and resources that are diverted to war from national and international priorities. Who picks up while war wages, and when it ends, to continue these internal responsibilities to the families at home?

Peace in our islands can be an elusive mission; or a lifelong feat of juggling the wishes and needs of our people and managing the undercurrents of family, business, community and island responsibilities’. 

Congratulations to anyone who has found the right mix and leads an amazing peaceful life. Even in paradise the undercurrents you can’t see run deep.

What with family and tribal debates on land rights, community misinformation on national fishing licenses, and international debates on language in climate change texts while another motu in our North slips below the waves; seriously the challenges to strive and stay in peace are on a moving continuum. 

An equilibrium is probably the best economic equivalent of peace. A state of balance that involves giving and taking; sensitive adjustments on the supply and demand curves; or a new economic order.

This suggests that the price of peace is human and country sacrifices made to help find equilibriums that respect peace.  

Our Uncle Taki (Framhien) has a photo of his Company V of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment which toured Vietnam in the years 1967 to 1969. 

It commands a quiet corner in his home. One of our sons’s returned from his class visit to Vietnam earlier this month. 

He shared stories of an overnight junket trip on Ha Long Bay, visits to local markets and the gracious food, and the tunnels of Củ Chi.  

The Củ Chi tunnels are now a visitor must-see on the Vietnam tourist map. 

Once the stronghold of the Communist guerrilla troops known as Viet Cong (VC), who set up this extensive network running under part of Saigon. 

The tunnels served as home for the VC and as essential transport and communication links in their campaign against the U.S., South Vietnamese and Allied forces.

The price of peace. 

For the first Anzac’s that price must have been their unwavering call to duty, and the sacrifices sustained. In wars and military campaigns since then, the price must be calculated on the sad loss of lives all round, the atrocities inflicted by those with no equilibrium wish, and those at home that have to anticipate in silence the final outcome of each conflict.

So Peacemakers have a lot of work cut out for them. 

Far from being pacifists, they are like spiritual soldiers who must help conquer the evil in man. What is this evil? 

Looking under the mat at every conflict down the years reveals greed, lust and pride as key to conflicts starting, whether in our homes, our islands or in the world. 

You know the scene: the family squabble over right of way access on tribal land; interest group concerns over nation fishing or mining rights; international disagreements on philosophies on living together.

Our Constitution preaches peace and unity, definitely an ongoing task for our religious, community, private and public sector shepherds and their sheep. 

But true peace can only happen when we are at peace with ourselves. 

How we do this? 

I suppose we continue to figure that out each day we live in this island paradise.

There are some things even an island economist can’t fully price, and I can only quote the best historical reference on peace, ‘blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the son’s and daughter’s of God’ (Matt 5: 9).

Lest we forget.

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