Fighting for Peace
I'll be honest, this has been hard for me to write. 2017 has been a rough year for many, including me, so that the very idea of peace feels like a pipe dream. The concept of peace is on my mind a lot, but what that looks like changes day to day. Some days, the peace I want is nothing more than some peace and quiet — a negative peace that is just the absence of conflict. To just tune it all out and take care of myself.
No running into the friend who betrayed me or the boss who fired me.
No meetings with hard choices.
No calling my friends and family out when they are out of line.
No deep introspection about my own failures.
No difficult and/or scary conversations with loved ones.
No news about wildfires, shootings, or impending nuclear war.
Other days, peace feels like showing up and standing arm in arm with those who have been denied justice and saying "enough." Pope John Paul II said, "There is no true peace without fairness, truth, justice, and solidarity." Sometimes, pursuing peace requires something more from me than just keeping my temper in check. It requires laying down my ego and privilege, fearlessly telling the truth, and doing the right thing instead of the easy thing. It requires listening to those who have been hurt by our actions or negligence, and then doing what is in my power to make it right.
There's nothing wrong with a negative peace sometimes — we can't grow if we don't rest. But such peace will always be temporary. On the other hand, fighting for a positive peace through justice can easily turn into zealotry or even vengeance. More often than not, I find myself slipping into patterns that are imbalanced towards one end or the other. Doing just one or the other, even (hypothetically) doing so well, does not lead to Shalom — which implies not only peace, but wholeness. Shalom requires doing both, and doing them in community. It’s the people we surround ourselves with that help us find peace when we desperately need it, and gently help us turn our comfort into somebody else’s peace.
I know this can seem daunting when the world feels like it’s only getting worse, but I urge you to take one step towards peace in your everyday life during this Advent season.
Eric is married to Amber and lives in Peoria. When he isn’t being preachy on the internet, he serves on the Leadership and Ministry Teams, brews beer, plays D&D, pets every cat, and somehow gets paid to design things.