George Bernard Shaw
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Jesus of Nazareth
Yesterday was this year's International Day of Peace, as observed by most nations and people groups around the world. To be clear, the "peace" that this day promotes is primarily marked by the absence of war - a ceasefire. This is important, don't get me wrong. Peace certainly cannot be achieved when guns are a-blazin'. But I can't shake the feeling that our vision of peace is very limited if our definition is primarily negative. Indeed, it seems that most people's definition of peace is simply: the absence of war.
But is that it? Is it that simple?
Of course anyone who knows anything of foreign affairs, international relations, or history of the US and/or world can see plainly enough that eradicating war would not be the least bit simple. We thrive on war, our very economy depends on it! Without war, we could not enjoy our favorite clothes, meals, or amusements. War is what makes our lives of relative peace, luxury, and excess possible! It's what makes the world go 'round.
Still. For sake of argument, let's say we could somehow end the wars between people of different countries or religions; the wars over land and resources; the wars over ideology.
Would men and women not still suffer from insecurity, negative self-image, co-dependent and unhealthy relationships?
Would teenagers not still cut their own arms; would they not still drink or smoke themselves into stupor?
Would poverty, hunger, and thirst not still ravage communities across the globe?
Would young children not still be sold into slavery, prostitution, and sweaty labor?
Of course there's no way to answer these questions without waiting for all the wars to end - but then it may be too late.
Something gives me the impression we have to be a little more proactive about making peace happen. Now there are folks who are so committed to this idea that they are willing to stand in front of a loaded gun or a rolling tank.
So I thought about the irony of having a Day of Peace. One day. People will stop firing their guns, but only for one day. Similarly, Christians take their finger off the trigger on Christmas Day, as was done in WWI. This makes perfect sense, of course, because Jesus wouldn't want us to kill on his birthday; but then on December 26 it's every man for himself!
Nevermind Jesus' teachings to love one's enemy, to serve in humility (even to the point of death, which he demonstrated himself), to be peace makers. Jesus exhorts us to be makers of peace.
What I love about this idea is that it implies creation. Peace must be made. Those who have guns don't just point them to the ground for a day; those without guns don't just sit around and wait for it to happen; and we don't just wait til Intl Peace Day rolls around to get busy at making peace.
Rather we beat our swords into plowshares!
We take our guns and turn them into flower pots. We use our words to encourage and edify rather than slander and tear down. We use our knives for cutting fruits and veggies, for sharing a wholesome meal with family and friends, rather than cutting our arms. We use our spare time to accompany the lonely rather than rot our brains on television, drugs, and alcohol. We use concrete and steel to build schools and community centers rather than barracks and prisons. We break the vicious cycle of consume-hoard-waste-repeat to share our great wealth with the needy in our midst and around the globe. We actively create peace ourselves, in our every day lives; in so doing, we become co-creators with God and introduce ourselves to the world as God's children.
And this all happens NOW. Perhaps International Peace Day is a good day to kick it off; but why stop there? Is it possible for us to each observe International Peace Day every day until an "official" International Peace Day is no longer necessary?! I believe this can happen, but it must start with me. With you.
Be responsible; be creative; be unreasonable, if necessary.
Be encouraged... and be the change you seek.