samedi, septembre 07, 2013

Peace: it's not a fashion statement

Today Twitter and Facebook feeds filled up with statements about peace, and peacemaking, prayers for peace, statements from religions figures about peace, and general nods of approval.

Peace: it's a great idea.

"Peacemaking: even a better idea"!

I began to get grumpier and grumpier, until I felt like the Grinch sneaking around in Cindy Lou Who's house, destroying her Christmas tree.

I mean, isn't everybody having a great old time agreeing with each other?

Perhaps it's because mind meld on ANYTHING makes me so annoyed that it must be unhealthy.

Perhaps it's because I wrote a column on Syria, and pretty much every religious figure was saying the same thing: we probably shouldn't go in.

Let me be clear about what I'm not saying.

This isn't about whether we intervene militarily or don't go in.  I can understand and respect the arguments on both sides.

I'm very cool with Pope Francis calling for prayer and fasting -- heck, he wasn't even the Pope when Assad began his reign of terror. And a day of prayer and fasting can never hurt.

I have the most profound respect for people who have been activists for peaceful solutions to conflicts. I do believe that it's where Jesus wants us to begin -- he's pretty clear about this, is he not?

But why now? Why, all of a sudden, are we talking about peaceful solutions?

Isn't it a bit late to talk about that, when Syria is falling apart?

I'm not a pacifist. It's tough to be one when some of your own relatives (though not close ones) were gassed by Hitler or murdered in pogroms.

And because I'm not, I've been stewing about what our government could do in Syria for a few years to halt the genocide. The reading I've done and the people I've heard on NPR have confused me more, and made me more angry and distraught.

Now, I fear, it may be too late to do anything but harm.

Perhaps the best we can do is swop prayers on Facebook.  Perhaps it's a form of water-cooler reassurance.

But I  believe still peace is about action, not words.

It's damned hard to be a peacemaker. Look at Martin Luther King, or the young people who crept into Iraq before the war. Peacemaking, by definition brings you face to face with the enemy, doesn't it?

 It's much easier to talk about it than to do anything.

That, of course, is human nature.  We are a communal people.

Jesus got that -- his death was the ultimate act of peace with us and with God.

The Gospel is more demanding than we dare dream, most nights.  Changing our behavior and our hearts is a lifelong process.

And so I pray that God will have mercy on those of us, including me, who haven't always been peacemakers when it's so clear that this is what He calls us to do.

Blessed are those who hear -- and act.

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