Peace is hard work

By Mathias Maurer, April 2015

“Why are there still wars?” Pascal suddenly asks at breakfast. I almost choke on my cereal. For a moment I do not know what to say.

The class 7 pupil sees the daily paper lying on the table each morning. The front page photos from crisis zones have become noticeably more frequent in recent weeks – there have never been more wars than in our time.

“People cannot find any other way to resolve their conflicts,” I say a little lamely. “But no one in the world seriously wants war,” Pascal continues. “Most people probably don’t but if you’re really angry you might well,” I respond, adding: ”There is always a scapegoat on whom people can take out their frustration. Then it is always the other person’s fault – you know what it’s like.” – “Yes, but I don’t kill them as a result!” Pascal answers indignantly. “Of course you don’t, but there are people who don’t have any inhibitions in that respect and in some parts of the world life is cheap.” I don’t want to paint the world as too black and wonder how I can end on a positive note.

Pascal is quicker than me: “The day before yesterday I had a fight with Frederick in class 8. He was teasing me all day. He’s really mean. So I let him have it.” – “And …?”, I wait. “Now he has a black eye,” Pascal admits. “And do you feel better as a result?” I ask. “Not really, I’m worried that he will lie in wait for me somewhere with his pals for revenge,” he says finally. “So what do you intend to do now?” I ask. “I don’t know …,” Pascal clearly feels uncomfortable.

“Could you have solved the problem in some other way?” I ask. “Not really, at least he’s leaving me in peace now,” he asserts. “How about if you’d stayed cool ...?” I try again. “That would have been useless, he wouldn’t have stopped needling me, he really made me angry ... he got what was coming to him …” – “Can you imagine that other young people feel just like you?”

I did not intend to keep going on at him but I was genuinely interested. “Of course,” is the immediate response. “I think adults, too, can feel the same way,” I add, thinking: war happens all by itself and peace requires real hard work ... “Oh, that sounds really hard,” says Pascal as if he had read my thoughts. We clear the breakfast table in silence.


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