Prophets often called the people of God to conversion with the caution that failure to do so would result in a future disaster. In 24th May, 2015 a prophet spoke, or rather wrote that we ought to take care for our environment, otherwise it would rebel against us.
Few in Ghana paid heed: the reason for such negligence cannot be attributed to the fact that the title of the document was in Latin “Laudato Si” (care for the environment) because its content is quite simple to grasp. Barely a month later, on the 3rd of June 2015, rains poured in Accra and there was a national disaster that was captured even by the international media.
I was then working in Accra Newtown and saw the consequences we paid for not respecting nature. I believe this year the voice of a prophet has spoken- not to tell who would win the 2020 election but to tell us how to maintain and improve peace in Ghana.
On the 8th of December, 2019, on the feast of immaculate conception, Pope Francis issued a message of peace to mark the 53rd world day of peace on the 1st of January entitled: “Peace as a journey of Hope: Dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”.
Peace he writes “cannot be obtained unless it is hoped for.” And I believe, that is the hope of all Ghanaians- that in this year of election, we may maintain and live in peace when all is said and done. Hope is what makes us move forward and what must determine our actions. One word that struck me as I read the message of Pope was “memory”.
The Pope teaches that memory is what helps to create and maintain peace, and this is done in two ways:
Recalling the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he states that the survivors of that atomic bombing bear testimony to the horrors that occurred during that time which must be prevented in our day. He continues: “Their testimony awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.
We cannot allow present and future generations to lose the memory of what happened here.” This is the first function of memory that helps preserve peace. When we forget our past and the memory of what it means to live in turmoil times, we would take our peace for granted. A recent documentary of Ghana’s history of revolution by Joy FM “scars of the revolution” reminds us of our dark history. Those are not times we would want to relive.
If you were born in the 80’s, it means you were too young by then to have memories of those years. The danger of such an absence of memory among the youth who are often the tool of distraction in the hands of a few who want to either attain or hold on to power can be disastrous.
Since we have no memory of what happened in those years, young people can take the little peace they have currently for granted. Without keeping such memories alive to serve as a reminder of the turn we should never take, we run the risk of acting out of ignorance (and in this case ignorance would be the lack of memory).
Scripture says the sons are like arrows in the hands of a warrior (Cf. Psalm 127:4): our hope is that such arrows would be that of the cupids who shoot arrows of love instead of distraction. The youth can therefore be instruments or peace and love in the hands of warriors of peace.
“…Many people in today’s world are working to ensure that future generations will preserve the memory of past events, not only in order to prevent the same errors or illusions from recurring, but also to enable memory, as the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace.”
The second dimension of memory is to see it as a “horizon of hope. Many times, in the darkness of wars and conflicts, the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions.”
As we are careful not to lose the memory of our dark past, we must also not lose memory of loving and beautiful moments of both the past and the present. As a football fun I remember the beautiful memory of when Ghana made it to its first ever world cup and its first ever quarter final.
Remember the love of your family: when you fell in love, when you married, when you had your first baby etc. These memories can be compared to the storage of the seven years of abundance when Joseph was second in command in Egypt which would eventually become the remedy for the seven years of famine (Gen. 41:28-32).
One who has no beautiful memories of the past has a dark memory and hence has no hope. Hope comes alive in dark moments like light that shines out darkness anytime we fall on a beautiful past memory to remind us of why we keep going forward and fighting for a better future.
“The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation.” Remembering the words of Jesus, we would reiterate that “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).
Source: Fr. Emmanuel Salifu // Radio Angelus