By Thiik Mou Giir, Melbourne, Australia
February 25, 2017 (SSB) — The prerequisite of a dialogue is silence; there is no silence and there are no signs whether there would be silence when the time of dialogue comes. There is noise everywhere. The noise makes it hard for any potential dialogue participant to think, to reflect and even to sit still properly. If people are serious and want to be ready to dialogue, then they must work hard in order to create an atmosphere of silence, silence before and throughout dialogue period. Up to this point of time, there is no silence.
The situation as it stands now, is full of noise. Those who are creating this noisy environment are the national army, the opposition forces, the social media and non-social media activists and propagandists, the government defectors and the rebellion defectors, the G10s, the people who are stealing public money, and the secretive non-South Sudanese, who are fanning the war while making profit out of it.
All these people, with smoking guns in their hands, have created this noisy environment. As it has been, many people are shooting and the conditions thereby created is certainly devoid of being an environment conducive to a productive and positive dialogue.
In the meantime, our people continue to fall dead in the war-killing fields and war-killing roads, are being raped, are forced to flee their homes to seek shelter in the UN refugee camps, and are dying of hunger and of diseases. A few days ago, the United Nations declared famine in parts of South Sudan. The United Nations had announced that ‘some 100, 000 people are facing starvation, with a million more on the brink of famine’. This is the result of a collapsing economy.
How can dialogue proceed at the same time everything I have mentioned above is concurrently happening? What if a parson who is supposed to be dialoguing is going to say, ‘I’m not in a good shape; you are one of those people who have created these conditions in which I’ve found myself in; you haven’t stopped creating these acute conditions for me as yet; I don’t want to talk; I’m too upset to talk,’ would anyone blame the person?
All the parties to the conflicts must stop using their big and small guns. Guns must go silent. No more incitement of people to hate. At this stage of South Sudanese civil war, all South Sudanese people must have realized that war is not going to take us anywhere but downward. Even if any party to the conflict is going to win the war, that party will also be a loser. War is not the best way, especially when the country happens to by your own country, to bring about freedom, equality, and so on.
You may win the war, but if you have not won the hearts and the minds of the people, your winning is worthless. Those who are waging war militarily and those who are waging war through writing, using the social media, please, it is time to stop. Dialogue opens up a chance for any party to bring about all the things I have mentioned above and more, and to also win the hearts and the minds of the people.
We have to grow up to the point that, if one’s opponent is sick, you have to go to visit him/her. When your opponent is well again, continue to fight him/her, mentally. And why are you fighting him/her? Make sure you are doing so in order to move the people from where they are to the next level of progress.
Your opponent today, could be your friend tomorrow and if you will never win his/her friendship, it still matters because he/she has made you a better person just as you have made your opponent a better person. This is how it should work for our collective survival.
I am appealing to those who are holding guns, therefore, to put all their guns down for the sake of our long suffering people and for our own sake. Let the people have a dialogue in an environment that is conducive to a positive and constructive outcome. The potential dialogue participants need time of silence before and during dialogue period.
There will be time when the pain will be too much that words will not be able to describe; they will need silence. There will be time when the only way for them to express their grief is silence – they will need silence. There will be time when people will be looking at each other and that look that silent look will mean more than a thousand words – they will need silence.
They will be silent when their eyes will remain open and when their eyes will be close. There will be time when the only form of prayer that will make sense will not be through words but through silence. Let us give the people what they would want – silence. The time is NOW.
My next publication, in one-week time, will be a draft of the ‘Peace Plan from the Grassroots’. This peace plan may or may not be used by the parties that will be involved in organizing the Dialogue Initiative. But it is a good idea that it should be there, just in case.
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