by Georges Budagu Makoko, Amjambo Africa Publisher

Recently I have been hearing people wonder aloud whether there is a risk of civil war in the U.S. The very thought is shocking and frightening to me.

In 2002, I moved to the U.S. from D.R. Congo, fleeing one of the most devastating conflicts in the world. When I arrived in the U.S. I was so impressed with the peace, freedom, and political stability that I found here. I have now lived here for the last 20 years, and I have enjoyed every year of my life here. My kids are growing up in the U.S., and my prayer is that they will never have to worry about conflict in their neighborhood, or run for their lives due to civil war or political unrest.

People should understand that once conflict starts, it is very hard to stop, but preventing differences from getting out of hand requires effort from all of us. This story of the dangers of conflict can best be told by those who have experienced conflict most. An example is the war that started in 1996 in D.R. Congo. That war is still happening 26 years later, in 2022, and has resulted in the deaths of 6 million people. Sometimes even a great nation that took hundreds of years to build can be destroyed – and it takes a long time to rebuild a country devastated by war.

Some people apparently believe that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, even though they have no evidence to substantiate their claims. This is a warning sign of significant political divisions. But charismatic people who are selfishly motivated can tap into populist ideology and attract followers – often people with limited abilities to recognize propaganda – and a movement can grow that ends up threatening long term peace and stability. We must remember that the inability of people to peacefully settle political differences has an effect not only on the current generation, but on generations to come.

Maine residents from Congo and Angola and Haiti and Sudan and Cambodia and Vietnam and Afghanistan, among other countries of origin, have lost everything in the effort to find a new place to call home. For these people, and for others who are currently fleeing their homelands due to civil war or political unrest, the idea that the U.S. is at risk of going through civil war is devastating. We must all do everything we can to maintain peace and democracy, despite our differences. War is not the answer.