Around the world, many people feel exhausted. Americans are exhausted from their elections and revelations of troubling conspiracies. Europeans are grappling with waves of immigrants and unsettling political developments. The Middle East is wracked with war. Immigrants are weary from months and years on the road, as well as enmity and even hate crimes in their new homes. Minorities are still trying to overcome the scourge of racism. Journalists are fighting to maintain the freedom of the press, and women are battling to overcome misogyny. The West struggles for its values, the East wants to maintain its traditions. Secularists battle extremists, religionists try to overcome zealous secularists, and everyone, but especially Islam, is trying to beat back the evils of ISIS.
2016 did not offer much hope that solutions to these many problems and exhaustions are just around the corner. On the contrary, things seemed to get worse – maybe the worst they’ve been since World War II. Many of us wondered, “When is this going to end?” As the Rev. Deborah Moldow, the World Peace Prayer Society’s Representative to the United Nations, writes in this issue, it seems like “after centuries of material progress have brought undreamed of comforts, and travel and communications opened the world to us, we have reached a perfect storm of unprecedented crises.”
So, what is the way out, if there is any? Rev. Moldow believes one solutions is what the United Nations calls the “culture of peace.” According to her, there are two main hallmarks of this consciousness. The first is the understanding that we are all members of one human family. And the second is the renewal of our sense of deep connection with nature, realizing that our future must include new ways to live in harmony with our environment. Rev. Moldow expounds on these themes in her essay “A Culture of Peace.”
On a similar note, this issue’s lead article speaks of a group’s commitment to peace and dialogue. Those committed to these values have accomplished a lot, though their efforts have been nearly halted by their opponents: “A marginal but adamant group, driven by hostility, aggression, anarchism, and slander, a group whose strength and extraordinary efficiency lie in its destructiveness and its bellicosity, has obstructed this awakening like fiends.”
The author, Fethullah Gülen, and the global educational movement he has inspired, Hizmet, have been attacked by the ruling elite in Turkey. The lead article narrates the obstacles and animosity Gülen has faced the last few decades. Despite these obstacles, he persisted on his path, establishing bridges of peace among different communities and overcoming bias to spread his message of mutual understanding. Now, he and Hizmet are victims of a global witch-hunt spearheaded by the Turkish government at the expense of the country’s prestige, international footing, and loss of the nation’s greatest civil society organization. Despite these slanderous attacks, Gülen vows not to “overshadow our time in this transient world by harming others, speaking evil words, or hurting others’ feelings; in the spirit of Yunus the poet, we will appeal to everyone to love one another.”
The witch-hunt mentioned above is clearly revealed in interviews, conducted by Professor Sophia Pandya of California State University Long Beach, with some of the Turkish volunteers of the Hizmet Movement who have fled Turkey for the United States. The title of her piece “Not Even Water!” – is a threat Turkey’s President Erdogan has made against Hizmet and capture the full extent of the government’s authoritarian crackdown against Hizmet. But like the rest of the world, even though 2016 has been a difficult year, we vow to move forward with hope in our hearts. As Martin Luther King Jr. liked to say, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.