From my journal, March 1st, 2016
It’s snowing outside my hostel near the Reykjavik airport at 8 am but traffic and life are bustling as the day begins. Kids going to school in the cold (its 23 degrees F) and dark of winter (sunrise this time of year is a little after 8 am) is normal. Life doesn’t stop because of a snow flurry. Don’t be a wimp.
Airplanes are launching people from the nearby international airport to their destinations or receiving them from both East and West. This is clearly an in-between zone that can even be seen in the tectonic plates between the continents that are fused together here in this island in the North Atlantic Ocean. This is a geological reality that one can see with your own eyes when viewing the Silfra fissure running through Iceland. Cracking open initially in 1789, due to the movements of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, they separate at about 2 centimetres per year, becoming a little wider through the passage of time, opening the land between them. Coincidentally, this is also where U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev made their famous summit in 1986. That was kind of the beginning of the end of the Cold War, the deceleration of the arms race and nuclear capabilities to destroy each other. I’m kind of nostalgic for those times. But I digress.
My hostel is part of an old NATO station and feels a little like an old military compound with airplane hangers and communication systems, radars, and lights flashing everywhere. Even all the buildings are spread out and only one or two floors to avoid total destruction in the prospect of an old fashion bombing raid. Like before there were nuclear weapons that would turn it all to dust anyway. Needless to say, the security apparatus and preparedness during the cold war was significant. A lot of money, energy, people’s careers were dedicated to guarding from a feared enemy or aggressing upon another.
As I reflect upon our times–the war in Syria, the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine, the toxic debates to determine our next President concurrent with the referendum on Obama’s legacy, I’m keenly aware that there will always be bullies. And war.
But will there always be peacemakers?
Editor’s note: It was Churchill who made famous a quote from George Santayana when he said (paraphrased), “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” I wonder more about what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”