In November 2014 I returned from my African home to speak at the Hamilton Convention Centre on the theme of The Nature of Peace. This was on the invitation of the YMCA of Hamilton-Burlington-Brantford, which holds an annual Peace Medal Breakfast to honour the people of Hamilton region who work towards peace.
Now, following the unsettling news of Muslim extremists killing 12 people at the Paris publication Charlie Hebdo, here is the second of several excerpts from that Hamilton address.
Excerpt #1 is here.
Now there’s good news too and I want to get to the good news. But first, let me ask you a question. Generally speaking, very broadly now, in 2014 is the world a safe place? I’d like to see a show of hands. Who thinks we live in a safe world? And who thinks it’s not safe?
I ask because whenever I’m in Canada and I tell people I live in Africa, this is what I’m asked. “You live where? Is it safe?” And sometimes I say, “No, it’s not safe. Life is not safe. It’s not meant to be.”
But I want to make this point, that in general, very broadly speaking, the world is safer than we think. That’s part of the good news. Relatively speaking, we’re living in unique times in terms of safety, lifespan, comfort, ease of travel. Keep in mind for thousands of years, life on earth was rather brutish and short. If you got to be my age, then you were doing well.
You just don’t feel very safe. And neither do I. Because we live in an age of information. And misinformation. And disinformation, that is information that makes it seem like you’re gaining something when you’re losing it. And this all distorts the big picture. We have a lot coming at us.
It’s like Coleridge said, “There is water, water everywhere with nothing to drink.” And it will only get worse. We live in a strange time when you can carry the sum total of the world’s information in your back pocket and still not know how to really live.
So we need to filter information with wisdom. That’s each of our responsibility. (But keep getting your Spectator.)
Now, why is this important? Because the greatest hindrance to peace is fear. It’s not that bad things don’t happen. They do. Every day. I could get hit by a milk truck on the road outside when I leave here, but the truth of the matter is that, statistically speaking, you have a greater chance of dying by falling off a ladder than by a terror attack.
So don’t let your inner peace be stolen.