Still and quiet on the bare branch, a blackbird is watching the snow-covered landscape of Aizarna. Everything radiates quietness and harmony. Everything breathes in peace.
But when I look at the first news item, the front page, or the first thought, the current and enormous uncertainties of the planet, the threats of this pandemia and of other worse ones, already present or yet-to come, all of them become apparent. Anxiety appears, peace breaks up. And I wonder, once again, about the enigma and contradiction of our human species. Are we capable of having the peace that this winter morning emanates, the peace that our own heart desires? Will peace be possible on the Earth dominated by Homo sapiens?
It is not the submissive or conformist peace of “tranquility in order” that Saint Agustine describes in The City of God (book XXII, chapter 30). He understood “order” to mean that “each person should occupy just the place it corresponds to him”. But he loved the Empire’s order and its peace, and he regretted its fall which he witnessed.
Jesus did not love the Roman Empire, nor any other empire. I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! (Lk 12,49-51). It is not the Empire’s peace, or that of the Praetorium, the Temple, or of the Stock Market: is there anything more stressed than the Stock Market? Is there anything more stressful and enemy of peace than financial speculation which topples governments, destroys peoples, ruins enterprises and evicts families? I wish it would burn for good!
We desire the peace that mutual recognition, deep respect, and universal care bring. The peace justice and equality bring. Not a perfect peace without strains and shadows, but a peace walking on its path, that looks ahead to the finish line without trying to get there, a peace which makes mistakes and falls –making mistakes and falling is human- and every time it holds out its hand and lets it be held, and it raises and humbly and humanely walks again without getting upset or condemning its neighbour.
But, is our sapiens species capable of building this peace? Do our 1,400 cm3-brain and our DNA allow for it?. No, I do not long for the peace of the blackbird, regardless of how much I admire it. Perhaps its brain does not allow him to be aware of its peace and enjoy it as much as we could do. But our advantage becomes disadvantage, the higher capacity becomes a greater threat.
Perhaps we can be happier and more at peace than the blackbird is, but the blackbird will never feel as unhappy and anguished as humans can, nor will it inflict to its fellow blackbirds or to the planet the suffering and damage that we inflict to other humans, to the planet and even to ourselves. Our regret for the past and our worry for the future, our insatisfaction with what we are and have, our fear to lose that which we love and our impulse to destroy what we hate, our ambition to be more than others and our anguish if we are less, our rage, our envy…. they all torment us in a manner that the rest of known animal species do not seem to experiment. And thousands and thousands of years demonstrate that human history does not progress towards peace for the species and for the individual, but rather it is the opposite… And this is not because of wickedness but because of mistakes and impotence.
And so, what? Will it be that we are such a predatory species that in the long run we are not fit for a living macro-organism such as Earth, a species condemned to extinction because of its own unlimited power in a limited planet, a biologically ill-fated species, unable to manage its own extreme complexity in a collective and individual harmonical manner? Would we be a failed trial of evolution of life in planet Earth? Will there still be a solution to rescue it from the abyss in which it is sinking at an increasingly high rate? Will there be a solution which will not imply intervening, with sufficient guarantee of success, some of the fundamental mechanisms (neuronal misadjustments, genetic disorders…) and recreate this species or create a new one?
I am sorry. The festivity we celebrate today may not be the best moment to pose such worrying questions. But I understand that the Light of Epiphany does not hide or lie, but unmasks and encourages, like Jesus’ creative fire. I do not believe in power, dominance or competition.
Years go by and hope gets tired, but life needs to continue breathing. Words become worn out and fade, but we need to rekindle the echo of the Unsaid that it resounds within them. I believe in those words.
And I believe in the symbolic story of the Wise Men, in their journey in search of peace, in the star from the heart of the universe that guides them, in their unselfishness to give out their wealth and even their religion to life in its poverty and frailness, the most valuable and adorable: a child in a manger.
Aizarna, January 6, 2020