When I became president of World Vision U.S. nine years ago, the most significant issues we faced were famine, infant mortality, and poverty. These are big problems, but we are able to alleviate them--if not solve them--given the right resources, people, and time.

Since then, the world appears to have spun out of control. Now the greatest challenge for relief organizations is to work toward the reconciliation of hostile factions in places like Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia. "Without reconciliation," said a Bosnian cleric who had seen little but death and destruction for more than three years, "everything is nothing more than a preparation for another war."


With the collapse of the bi-polar world of the Cold War, old animosities have surfaced; the so-called New World Order has turned out to be anything but orderly. The West may have won the war, but it failed to secure the peace.

In the first three years after the end of the Cold War, there were 85 major conflicts, 35 of them classified as wars (because more than a thousand people died in them annually). Two-thirds of these wars were conflicts within nations rather than between nations, in places where people's otherness--their God-given uniqueness--counted against them. Ethnic cleansing entered our vocabulary and filled our television screens. More and more, it is not state-sponsored conflict we are dealing with but conflict between hostile ethnic and religious groups. Welcome to the Real World Order.

In the Real World Order, otherness is demonized and, if possible, eliminated. The fear of otherness can become so intense that even minority groups in a hostile environment are sometimes driven to make preemptive strikes--chasing neighbors ...

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