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Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Visionary
Like both of his predecessors, Pope Benedict speaks from a mountaintop far above the shabbiness of political debate. Benedict is different. Our comfortable, one-size-fits-all labels of “liberal” and “conservative” wash right off him. He is neither peacenik nor hawk, neither in Darfur nor Iraq.

His goal is not simply to end a conflict here or there. In fact, what he seeks is not a goal at all. It is hope: “hope for a more serene world, a world in which more and more individuals and communities are committed to the paths of justice and peace.”

We need this message because we need a visionary. We need a prophet to condemn ballooning military expenditure and the flourishing international arms trade and weigh them on the balance against the young lives they snuff out daily in petty conflicts worldwide. We need a prophet to remind us that politically-driven efforts to “maximize historical and cultural differences” between peoples and, if you will, civilizations, is a lie about our common destiny as members of our human family: goodbye realpolitik. We need a “conservative” stalwart who supports the troops “engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace” and condemns terrorism vigorously. We need a “liberal” crusader against nuclear stockpiling, reminding us that “tactical considerations” and political posturing blind us to the common sense that it is a mind-bogglingly senseless and self-destructive endeavor. We need a visionary with this transcendent slogan: “Peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict.”

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