This season of the year, when Jews celebrate their movement from slavery to freedom at Passover and Christians celebrate Jesus' journey from death to new life on Easter Sunday, I often scour the news of the world for signs of new Passovers and new Easters in today's world.
Frankly, this year has been tough. Really tough. The level of violence in so many parts of the world makes it difficult to see any signs of either freedom or new life breaking forth. I think of the violent attacks and wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Ukraine, and now the bombing of a university in Kenya.
But then on Holy Thursday came some emerging good news: After months of grueling negotiations, the United States and other Security Council permanent members (plus Germany) reached an agreement with Iran aimed at eliminating its chances of producing a nuclear weapon. But almost more important than the contents of this agreement (which is preliminary) is the fact that it was reached at all. It shows that diplomacy is alive and well and can be fruitful in today's volatile world.
And after all, as President Barack Obama said when he announced the preliminary agreement, the likely alternative is another war in the Middle East.
Of course, the details of this plan have yet to be worked out. And the plan already (but not surprisingly) has its critics, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and several Republicans in Congress. But hopefully the reported strength of the agreement, a surprise to some negotiation-watchers, will change some minds. After all, in the world of diplomacy, nations do not surrender; they make concessions and accommodations to come to a mutual agreement. And although Iran may not have a sterling record when it comes to fulfilling agreements, the monitoring process in this preliminary accord appears to be stronger than many expected.
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Still, even with some potential obstacles to a final agreement, this is an Easter moment, a time of new life in the world of diplomacy, a glimmer of hope for the people of Iran, the United States, and the other nations involved: the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany. Even Canada, which was not a party to the negotiations, is contributing $3 million to monitor Iran's compliance with the accord.
And you can call this a pipe dream if you want -- this is the season to dream impossible dreams! -- but maybe someday, there will be a vibrant Easter moment of worldwide resurrection when all nuclear powers eliminate their nuclear weapons.