Now Is The Time To Promote Peace

by Father Maurice J Nutt, C.Ss.R.

In recent times, there is an increase in violence at local, state, national and international levels. All kinds of violence plague many communities, leaving some people wallowing in darkness and despair. From conflicts in Syria, to the inhumane action of Isis, to continued unrest in the Middle East, to the senseless gang violence on your city streets to the upcoming verdict in the Michael Brown murder case in Ferguson, Missouri – there is a call for peace and for the people of God to lead the charge as peaceable people and peacemakers.  The solution belongs to the entire community.  Each one of us, regardless of age, condition, class, culture or religious affiliation must be part of the solution.

Now it is a good time to reflect on the issue and plan to do our part to create a peaceful community, nation and world.  To accomplish this task successfully, we must spend time each day in prayer and contemplation and invite God to direct our path, show us how to remove the obstacles, and allow Divine Light to replace the darkness.

We are reminded that wars begin in the minds and hearts of people. It is in the same place that the defense of peace must be constructed. The peace we build must be built on a secure foundation, not just on political and economic arrangements, but also upon an intellectual and moral solidarity with all of humankind. We are called to promote mutual understanding while working to eliminate discrimination, intolerance and violence. We are called to learn to live together by fully participating in the infinite wealth of the cultures of the world and by averting the fear reflex when confronted with “otherness.” This calls for a genuine and lasting dialogue, to rethink the values of cultural diversity and to bridge cultural and religious barriers as well as to break stereotypes and to turn people away from violence. We must also rethink our relationship to the economy, to society, and the environment, because the future challenges of humankind do require collective response. This kind of solidarity can result in a culture of peace and non-violence. Sustainable development will help people live their lives with dignity, peace and hope.

What can we do to create a culture of peace?

Adults must model for children and youth what it means to live in peace. Show them there are other ways to solve disputes besides engaging in violence. They can be taught peace -making skills, and conflict resolution can be taught in schools and other groups to help people create peace in hearts, homes and communities.  Often our nation uses war and conflict as a way of solving problems. Write to legislators and urge them to find peaceful ways of solving problems and diverting some of our resources toward peace-making and justice issues. We need to learn from people of other cultures and respect and use their gifts in our communities. Review and reshape the ways we relate to them.  Work toward respect and peace in our homes, in our interactions and relationships with them. May God’s peace fill our hearts, our homes, our nation and our world.

Faith communities can reach out to people, those standing on street corners or belonging to gangs and give them soul food to meet their needs and help them redirect their lives. Don’t be afraid to challenge their behavior and show them ways to practice peace.

Let us heed the words and wisdom of those from various faith perspectives who have challenged us to live in peace:

It is through service in this world, not by abandoning this world that we attain to heavenly realms or spiritual fulfillment. – Buddha

* “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi

* “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

* “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

* “It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

* “One hour’s meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer.” – Muhammad

* If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there. – Mother Teresa

* Never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity. – Pope Francis

* Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. – Jesus (John 14:27)

We must believe peace is possible and continue the peace-making endeavor in all its forms. Involve the whole community in coming up with solutions. Think of a pebble cast into the water. It will create ripples. Each ripple joined with others can create a force for good and made a big difference. May we continue our journey with peace, faith, hope and love.  No effort is too small to make a difference. With God’s help we can transform our communities and world from one of violence and war to one of peace and dignity for all.