Saturday, October 14, 2006

Provoking Peace - a concept

A brief episode in Bulgaria’s history is told in a recently-published book which translates as ‘Bulgarian Chronicles’.

A relatively unknown event took place in the year 866 AD. This was the night when the Bulgarian ruler Boris I secretly accepted the Christian faith and was renamed Mikhail.
Nevertheless, that very same night, when the Tsar’s courtiers learned of his outrageous actions, they all gathered around the royal castle at the capital city of Pliska.
Armed with swords and worse still, unimaginable, untamed fury coupled with the sole aim to kill the Tsar; a sudden, unexpected rebellion which should have been easily destroyed with a small, competent army.
Instead, however, the gates of the castle opened and in front of the frozen crowd, an image appeared. That of the Tsar Boris I, walking towards them, wearing a rugged, peasant-like clothes, bare-footed and head-shaven; a candle in his hand instead of a sword. He was followed by 48 of his closest men dressed like him with candles in their hands. All of them unarmed, completely in the hands of the amazed crowd. ‘Monks’ in the hands of ‘animals’.
Some people collapsed, others were absolutely guttered by their inability to act.
They were motionless, completely stupefied by the unfolding scene in front of them.
Boris was effectively at gun-point at this very moment yet he emerged unhurt and victorious. His life was at stakes but his glory had multiplied.

Personally, I am not struggling to imagine this scene in the literal sense.
What presents a true challenge, however, is to find other similar acts of mindless but ‘successful’ sacrifice which could be considered as momentous as this one.

So, Mussolini, over a thousand years later, said that war brings out the highest form of tension for any country; its totality and brutal effort is the ultimate of human energies and courage. Well, he didn’t say exactly that but he was on a similar track.

The concept of war & peace should be re-written. Mussolini was missing an essential point in his argument. That of the provoking peace.
What Tsar Boris I did was not plunge into battle just as would a simplistic predator do but began to think with his head; his human head.
It is the act of standing up to violence with a candle in your hand that should be considered as the ultimate of human valour.
Whereas, war elicits the mightiest of social efforts and energies, the concept of provoking peace brings out the immense will and effort of a single person.
War itself is a misinterpreted basis for assessing courage. It merely portrays warriors as heroes while on the other hand, peace gives birth to heroes as humans.

That’s why Jesus is such a great figure. It’s the fact that he was a human being that sets him apart from all other Gods. He made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of humanity and felt and suffered pain just like any other human individual.
In the end, he was even human enough to shout out the words, while nailed on the cross: ‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?’

I passionately wish for Jesus to have existed just for these words of his.

In Henry V, Shakespeare (The Chorus) says to the audience:
‘Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts’.
This is meant to encourage people to imagine the setting and the action so as to overcome the physical limitations of the stage.
I would say:‘Peace out your imperfections (violence) with your thoughts and will’ so as to overcome the limitations of human nature itself.


At 15 October 2006 at 19:00 , Blogger ¡Benjaminista! said...

A thought-provoking work on this theme is "On Violence" by Hannah Arendt, in which she distinguishes between power and violence. Violence is not power, but rather the last desperate grasp of power strugglin to maintain itself. True power requires no violence: it asserts itself like your Bulgarian tsar, impressing with its sheer self-knowing.

At 15 October 2006 at 21:18 , Blogger IPCHUK said...

Though I may have in-effect compared the Bulgarian Tsar to Jesus, the parallels in their acts end here.
Just moments after the ingeniously- staged scene, the gates of the castle re-opened to give way to a formidable, armed-to-the-teeth cavalry, massacring the people of the 'frozen' crowd.

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