peace is a choice...

I've been meaning to post this piece on peace for awhile (sorry, I couldn't resist:). But I was reminded of it this week as I read some reflections from a pastor friend of mine on the topic of just war and pacifism (see here his post and the ongoing discussion ).

If you're not aware, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is an organization that works actively for peace around the world, particularly in places where conflict and violence is a significant part of everyday life (see here for a list of places). The following was part of an MCC bookmark that I came across my desk:

Imagine a peaceful world...change begins with a dream.

The world is full of violence. Each day we hear about wars, armed conflict, violence on the street, in the schoolyard, or in the privacy of a home. It is often hard to imagine a world free of violence. People who choose peace dare to dream that a different world is possible. God also has a dream. It is a dream of swords being turned into plowshares, of people living in safety and security, of nations not going to war anymore. Dream a dream and help change the world.

"The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are children of peace who have beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning forks, and know no war" -
Menno Simons

The bottom of the bookmark states, "over the course of this year, we will explore other ways to choose peace and live out new hope in the name of Christ."

Realizing peacemaking and nonviolence can remain a position of impractical idealism, I look forward to hearing more about how people around the world are practically living out the dream of peace. For a vision that often seems so unrealistic, we need stories to help us realize peace is possible. I will post these stories from MCC as they become available.


Darren said...

"Imagine a peaceful world...change begins with a dream."

I like this line in particular from that bookmark - I think it acknowledges that realizing peace is difficult and unlikely, but that it is God's way and that God dreams and imagines along with us when we visualize peace in this world.

This is a great topic Dave, and I'm looking forward to it generating some interesting conversation. Systems of nonviolence is an idea our world needs now more than ever - yet because it's difficult far too many scoff and say it's impossible and refuse to even take the first step to dream or imagine it.

David Warkentin said...

Hey Darren,

Yeah, I think you're right on in your assessment - we have an inability to creatively produce practical nonviolent solutions to conflict. It's so off the radar that people "scoff" as you say. But I'm guessing people scoffed at the early church in their lack of violent retaliation at their persecution, or the Anabaptists as they were martyred instead of fighting back (over adult baptism!). Practically speaking, their response is laughable.

I think an interested extension of nonviolence socially, is to ask how we seek peace in our churches and personal relationships. Sadly Mennonites, even with their historical peace position, haven't always sought relational peace in how they handle conflict within their own ranks. I'm guessing this type of inconsistency still exists in people's lives and churches practices. I guess I'm asking this: when we aren't forced to live/die on our peace position, how do seek to be peacemakers in our everyday lives?

But perhaps the same with war, relational peace needs just as much imagination!

Check out Phil's blog for some other discussion (see the link in my post)

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