Posted by: Robert A. Holsapple | September 22, 2009

What will it take to create peace on earth?

The word “peace” has many diverse connotations.

  • For some people it is the absence of conflict or war between people, nations and beliefs.
  • For others it is the lack of discord or strife between individuals, the presence of harmony and tranquility.
  • For some it is an internal state of calm and serenity regardless of what is going on around them.
  • Still others associate peace with the anti-war movement relative to the U.S.-led military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or other parts of the world where a projection of armed force is evident.
  • Others hearken back to the peace movement of the 1960s and the visualization of the peace symbol that was prevalent at that time.

Jesus told his followers “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  [John 14:27, NIV]  This peace is not the absence of war, conflict or unrest in the world; rather it is the assurance that in seeking after God one would experience an inner peace that would provide comfort in times of difficulty.  In fact we are told “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen,” [Matthew 24: 6].  We are warned that nations will rise up against nations and Kingdoms against other Kingdoms.

I concur however, with Peace.org that war is not inevitable and there is a stand we can take to ensure this in fact is not our fate:  “It is the obligation of thinking people on this planet to weigh the implications of a future without co-existence, to ponder the underlying causes of today’s conflicts, to encourage efforts aimed at addressing these complexities and to promote similar thoughtful consideration by others.”

It is not a matter of peace at what cost; it matters what it costs if peace is not achieved and sustained.  Today conflict rages on in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Darfur, Israel and Palestine to name but a few.   Here at home there is conflict, violence and loss of life on our streets every day.  The impact of lack of food, inadequate nutrition, educational, economic, social, racial, ethnic, gender and political injustice is incalculable.  

How do we find peace in the midst of all the turmoil and struggle around us?  We begin by acknowledging that the world is not at peace; people of the world are not in loving, caring and affirming relationships with each other.  Next we engage in the actions to which we are obligated as members of the world-wide community of humanity:

  • Think diligently about the cost of doing nothing to improve the condition of others;
  • Picture the world of the future if we do nothing to promote peaceful co-existence;
  • Work with honesty and integrity to understand the individual and institutional causes of the present situation in any particular corner of the world;
  • Encourage others to examine these things and engage in a dialogue with them; and
  • Take direct action aimed at ameliorating the identified causes that contribute to unrest, death, conflict, hunger, thirst, genocide and outright war.
  • Take a stand in opposition to the idea that we are powerless to bring about positive change in our world.

Each of these are important steps to be taken in their own right, but together they can keep alive the hope and belief that together we are capable of sustaining a just and equitable Kingdom as our Creator intended here on earth.  By coming together to explore our commonalities as well as our differences, by engaging in peace-promoting activities such as CA’s Peacemaking Through the Arts and by believing that we are indeed obligated to do something positive, we can promote peace in all of its meanings.  Just as the world and our nation came together in the immediate aftermath of the events of 9/11, we can do so today to fight a larger and more insidious danger to peace and harmony in our global community.  We can thereby, enhance the quality of life of every single person living today and well into the future.

Want to know more about what you can do, contact the Christian Association at the University of Pennsylvania , explore the activities of Peace Action , or talk to your neighbor, your roommate, your family, people with whom you come into contact on a daily basis and ask them what they do to promote peace around the corner or around the world?  The answers you receive will provide a springboard from which you can begin what perhaps may be the most important conversation of your life.

Consider the words of Jesus when he tells us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]  We are all in the final analysis, children of God.  Let us work together to bring about peace on earth during our lifetime.

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