International Bulletin - May 2001
PEACE: An Address by HRH Princess Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho
What is Peace? Is it an idealistic dream with a fairy tale ending? Or is it actually tangible, something that can be grasped and experienced by all?
Peace has different connotations in different languages. The English definition of peace is an absence of external or internal conflict. The Hebrew is a greeting which refers to complete wholeness of mind, body and spirit. In Tongan, melino means at rest from conflict. Contentment is fiemalie. Nonga is calm.
Peace is about relationships, our relationship with others, our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with God.
Ferdinan Magellan circumnavigated the globe in the early 1500s. At least 18 members of his crew did. Before loosing his life at the hands of savage islanders, he renamed the South Seas, the Peaceful Ocean.
The traditional culture of peace in the Pacific is totally different from peace in the Americas and Asia because our history and geography are different. A region's traditional culture of peace is based upon those ideals which have brought survival and contentment to their people. Saving has always meant survival to the people living in the temperate and arctic regions. Their winters were a challenge to life. If people failed to save for the winter by not storing sufficient food and not building adequate houses, they died. Saving meant survival. Saving has been a part of Western culture from its conception. With the winter also came the means to save, the cool weather itself.
In the tropics, sharing is survival. There is no winter. Food is available year-around. The hot, humid weather makes it impossible to save anything for long. In the past when a fisherman caught an exceptionally large catch of fish, he had no way of saving it. What good would his fish do him tomorrow? He distributed the surplus fish to his extended family and neighbors. They then took their turn in sharing with him in their time of plenty or when he was in desperate need. In the Pacific, sharing ahs always meant survival.
How can so many Pacific Islanders attend this conference? If you ask, you will learn it is not so much from saving as from sharing.
An individual can manage to save herself, but it takes people to share. When sharing means survival, family and friends are important. The secret of sharing is not found in keeping up with the Joneses, but in the number of friends and family members you have. Having many children guaranteed parents they would be adequately taken care of in their old age.
The only social security system known was the strong investment in the young who would one day in turn take care of the elderly. Functional families provide the emotional and physical security needed by both the young and the old.
Not being able to save for tomorrow has made today important to the Pacific islanders.
We have learned to celebrate without unnecessarily worrying about the future. We can sing and dance and celebrate all night. Even our funerals become a celebration of family. God has always been faithful in taking care of us. And we're not expecting God to change.
Life is to enjoy. People are to enjoy. People are more important than time. There is time to help a neighbor. There is time to worship. There is time to rest. There is time to talk.
There is time to celebrate. And, yes, just in case you were wondering, there is even a bit of time left over to work; but because of taking time for everything else, we might be a little late.
In the Pacific, friends and family are more valuable than the accumulation of material wealth. Sharing means letting go and is more important than holding on. Someone wisely said, "if you can't let something go, you don't hold it. It holds you."
According to an article in the May 1999, Australian Science Magazine, three independent sets of psychological researchers concluded that the present economic trends worldwide are promoting social diseases. These researchers distinguished between two beliefs about the source of lasting happiness, fulfillment and contentment.
The first is the belief that happiness lies in the pursuit of external things - waelth, fame, power and physical attractiveness; the second is that happiness grows from striving for deeper relationships, personal growth and contributing to the community.
These studies show that materially oriented individuals have shorter, more conflicting and more competitive relationships with others, thus affecting the quality of life of those around them. They also show that social relationships, including those with family and friends, are the most important determinant of happiness.
In the first century, James, the Bishop of Jerusalem wrote a letter to be distributed. He was particularly concerned about conflict.
He wrote, What causes fights and quarrels among you? You want something, but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Two hundred years ago the Pacific was anything but peaceful. The young Tongan warlords were ambitious for land and power. They were often cruel, even to their own people. Then the situation became explosive when guns were stolen off visiting ships. The most important ingredient to peace was missing.
Just in time, missionaries brought us the good news.
The Prince of Peace had come.
Barriers were broken down between men and women, between classes of society, between Tongan and other nations and races and between God and man. We laid down our guns and picked up our hoes and fishing lines once again.
Statistics from New Zealand prisons indicate a rise in Pacific Island offenders. But the same statistics show that they rarely have a pacific Island repeater.
Researchers also believe that it is because Pacific Islanders have family and church waiting for them when they are released.
As a mother, I have the responsibility to choose schools for my children. Education is only one facet of the decision. I can choose schools in which my children learn to build bombs, or I can choose schools which help build my children's character, especially their hearts. My children need the opportunity to make friends of people from all races and from all economic backgrounds. If they have love in their hearts for others, peacemaking will be an important part of their lives' ambitions.
Peace doesn't happen by chance, nor can it be bought at any price. Peace is made by investing in relationships with God, with our selves, and with others. Initially investing cost us, but in due time we will receive the interest. Perhaps if we paid for peace by sharing, by giving time and by enjoying others we would pay a lot less for it in lives.
For some people peace means survival.
Last Modified: June 05, 2010