American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr put it aptly: “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that,” he added, concurring with Mahatma Gandhi that an eye for an eye would only make the whole world blind.
In much similar vein, this year’s Easter saw church after church and cleric after cleric repeatedly and passionately underscore the need for communities, nations and humankind as a whole to safeguard and prompt the peace and harmony Tanzania has known and enjoyed all this long.
All implored Tanzanians in their millions to uphold, enhance and treasure human rights and the rule of law as well prize the security and justice that doing so guarantees.
Those taking these for granted might argue that there was nothing new and worth writing home about in these sermons as, after all, it would be strange for men and women of God to tell their flocks and the world anything to the contrary.
Their stance will be surely regrettable but possible understandable if they know nothing the likes of war-ravaged Somalia, strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, dismembered Sudan and countries prone to terrorist attacks.
In one of this year’s Easter summons, a long-serving cleric raised alarm over what he describes of “indications” of the resurfacing of suspicions, intolerance and discrimination between and among Tanzanians based chiefly on religious, tribal and ideological lines.
Accordingly, he appealed to the government and the citizenry to do their utmost to ensure Tanzania continues to stand as a solid nation built on the foundation of humanity, freedom, equality, respect for basic rights and self-reliance.
As to precisely what should be done to safeguard and promote the peace and unity prevailing in the country, the clerics spoke of the need to bridge the yawning social and economic gaps separating the filthy rich from the dirt poor and thus ensuring equitable distribution of the “national cake”.
Indeed, for is it not common wisdom that the only peace sure to last is that which is between equals and that whose very principle is equality and a common participation in a common benefit?
Yet, how many care to appreciate the fact that, to steal from Mother Teresa, the absence of peace is often the result of people forgetting that they belong to each other?
We subscribe to fears constituting part of the gist of the religious leaders’ Easter sermons that inequalities and injustices in society breeds, precipitates or fans misery, disillusionment and despondency that, in turn, form a conspiracy triggering all manner of anti-social behaviour including crime.
Footnote: It is dangerous for a country to reach a stage where people believe that treasures such as peace and moral ethics are impossible to cultivate and promote, as all that this would mean is that people have lost faith even in their very own lives.
Religious leaders have used this year’s Easter to remind us about these dangers and what we can do to forestall or circumvent them. We should stay forewarned.