Today is World Peace Day, though you wouldn’t know it from all the hatred, heat, and smoke rising from discussions at the United Nations, the halls of Congress, or most any place that campaining politicians happen to be.

Peace Day happily coincides with yesterday’s ending of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, so gay men and women who want to serve their country can do so with the inner peace of living the truth in public as well as private. In so many other areas, however, peace seems more distant than ever.

In New York, the Palestinians want to be recognized as a state by the United Nations, a desperate and ultimately fruitless effort born of Israel’s persistent determination to continue seizing and occupying Palestinian lands rather than negotiate in good faith during peace talks. And, even though the Obama administration is siding with Israel and threatening to veto the request, Republican opponents are accusing the President of throwing Israel under the bus. It’s as if someone passed out a memo declaring that the order of the day is sneering contempt.

As the primary season heats up, it appears that campaigners are even more entrenched in the sickening strategy of spewing accusations rather than the honest approach of focusing on their own qualifications and ideas. Debates are sometimes more hateful than helpful.

In Washington, President Obama’s long attempts at cooperation with the hard-liners in Congress have proven so fruitless that he has also resorted to drawing lines in the sand, threatening to veto any legislation that hurts the poor without requiring more help from the rich.

Bullies of all sorts have long understood that there is great power in stubborn intransigence. And, in the various political battles of the last year, those who played the ugliest have tended to prevail. The result is a polarized political atmosphere that is crackling with poisonous rhetoric, sacrificing the pleas of people for the pride of politicians. 

If the American scene were not depressing enough, we know that many peoples of our world have to deal with real gunshots rather than verbal pot shots, with physical starvation rather than verbal frustration. Perhaps today should be called an international day of weeping for the world.

When my thoughts turn to prayer today, they will be prayers for peace. God knows we need it.

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