“Peace is not just about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice.... A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free. Peace is about being able to recognize in the face of the oppressed our own faces, and in the hands of the oppressors, our own hands. Peace, like most beautiful things, begins small.... Peacemaking begins with what we can change – ourselves. But it doesn’t end there. We are to be peacemakers in a world riddled with violence. That means interrupting violence with imagination, on our streets and in our world.” Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
There is a fine line between being a peacemaker and being passive, and being a peacemaker and being actively involved in helping to make our world a better place. Many of us on a serious spiritual journey sometimes struggle with this line especially when it comes to politics. We want to make a difference, fight the injustices in the world, and to help save lives, but to do so without any conflict. On the other hand, we know that sometimes it takes that conflict in order to get people’s attention, and at times it can get a little chaotic. It’s quite a quandary.
We can all help humankind, animals, and our environment in various ways, whether those ways are subtle or obvious, and all of them are okay as long as we’re not hurting anyone. Personally, my activism is in my writing and in my public speaking.
I also know that the first peace we seek should be the peace within, and to remember that we’re all connected no matter what we look like or where we live. Black Elk said, “Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their oneness with the Universe, when they realize it is really everywhere, it is within each one of us.”
Peace Pilgrim expressed, “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Buddha stated, “The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.” And Neale Donald Walsch declared, “One simple change – seeking and finding peace within – could, if it were undertaken by everyone, end all wars, eliminate conflict, and prevent injustice. World peace is a personal thing. What is needed is not a change of circumstance, but a change of consciousness.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 31, 2017.