In the Maldivian language, Dhivehi, there is no single word that means peace. In fact, there is a whole gamut of words that could mean peace. I am not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing. But what I do know is that right now, the whole country craves for an elusive peace, that may in the end, mean different things to different people.
Nevertheless, what most people of my generation would wholly subscribe to is that we had a peace of sorts in the Maldives of our childhood. Growing up in an idyllic island, where the unpaved roads were swept daily by mainly women with hand made brooms from the coconut palms, not even the wildest of dreamers among us could have imagined the country that we face today. It used to be a country where people stopped in mid-stride when they heard the Islamic call for prayers; a country where we stood up when our parents walked into the room, a country where our neighbours would discipline us as if we were their own children.
What we see today is more than the generation gap. What we see today is the disintegration of the social fabric that binds us all together as a society. What we see today is the religion that has bounded and bonded us as a nation for more than 800 years being used as a political tool, and not ever our youngest generation is escaping its perils.
Who would take your young child to a violent demonstration where flags are burnt? Who would take your young child to hear people cry “Burn America” “Burn the Jews”? Who would give toy guns to your little girl and boy while holding a poster “America, you are inviting us to terrorism”? But this is the reality we face today. The ludicrous film by a right-wing producer aimed at depicting Islam as a religion of violence was disgraceful; but to see young children surrounded by hate-filled cries for violence and revenge is equally appalling. At the end, you are left with an empty void, a feeling of helplessness that there is very little you can do to bring back the elusive peace that everyone seems to want. But then again something keeps you clinging on to that bit of hope that a miracle would happen; somehow we would achieve that peace we seem to be groping for.
Perhaps I am just a dreamer as John Lennon sang. But I certainly hope he was right when he said “you are not the only one!”