One of the first things I did when I woke up yesterday, was check the news on the referendum in Colombia. A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine raised her voice at the very special moment. Surrounded by our camp community, which had become our family, she just heard about the peace negotiations in her home country. I remember the thickness of her voice, filled with emotion and hope. Never was the ending of the war in Colombia so close. Finally peace.
But I woke up, checked the news and instead of an end of the war, people voted ‘no’. Right now I can write a whole blog about why I don’t think referenda are always a smart idea. But that’s not what I am kept my thoughts busy today.
It’s the question: how can people not want peace?
The outcome of the referendum in Colombia was very close. Interestingly however, the people in the rural areas voted to in favour of the peace agreement with Farc. It is these rural populations that have been affected the most by the guerrilla attacks. The rejection of the peace agreement makes the end of a 52-year long war seem incredibly far away again. Maybe it does make sense somehow. If you have lost family members and have lived in fear for more than 50 years and peace is so close, you are willing to give up some land or accept amnesties in order to finally live in peace again. Yet if the war attacks never really affected you in the city, you might be convinced that the peace agreement is too favourable for what you consider a terrorist group.
I don’t know what made people decided to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I don’t know why people decided not to vote at all. I don’t know how this happened or why it happened. I don’t know how you keep fighting for peace on days like these when everything just seems hopeless.
At the end of day, after reading endless reports and articles to prepare upcoming fieldwork, I decided to put on my running shoes and go outside. Around the time of sunset. Dark and grey clouds covered the sky. The cold days of autumn have really started now. Yet there is something beautiful about sunsets on days with darkness. The photo I took today shows the sun at the end of road. A few steps more and I literally felt like I ran into the sun that peaked out from underneath the clouds to give today it’s last bit of golden wisdom. Telling me that no matter how dark the sky may look, the sun is always there behind it, waiting for moments to brighten up your life. I could have stayed inside, yet I decided to go outside. One minute earlier and I would have just been running under a dark sky. One minute later the sun disappeared behind the horizon.
While I ran home, I remembered the words of mother Teresa. No matter how hopeless it might seem in today’s world. Wars won’t end. Peace is further away than ever. Yet there is something we can all do. It starts with going home.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”