Making peace in troubled times…


Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it’s hard to deny that these are troubled times. Thinking about not accepting injustice also brings to mind the pitfalls of ‘fighting fire with fire.’

I recently came across this stirring quote about peacemaking — and was particularly moved by its vision of actively pushing back and yet breaking out of an escalating cycle of retribution:

“Peacemaking does not mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”  (Shane Claiborne)

Yes, the real work is in hashing out *how* to enact such lofty principles — but we can and must let inspiration like this at least get us started.

14 thoughts on “Making peace in troubled times…

    • so is it one word or two? i might add a fourth word to summarize your three: inapposite. too vague to be useful–or useful for anything. complex things need complex consideration, not labels. are you a spiritual guru?

    • Thank you for the comment, dagway…
      Taking your two-word phrase to mean seeking balance between confronting and supportiveness, i agree we ought to aspire to that — particularly within personal relationships.
      It isn’t immediately clear to me how the phrase is applicable to grappling with injustice in the broader societal arena.
      I don’t want ‘good and evil’ to balance each other out; i want to incapacitate oppression and mitigate its damage to the furthest extent humanly possible.

  1. There is a line in an old hymn that says Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me. Whether that means peace on a worldwide scale or peace in your own heart, it can begin with you right now. Allow God to be your comfort in these troubled times. God promises us

    • The peacemaking concepts in this quote dwarf God’s methods in the Bible. The core of Christianity (salvation) shows God’s ineptitude in reconciliation and justice.

      What I call inept, actually sounds like an intentional aspect of Jesus’s mission: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

      I suppose the peace and comfort you mention have different meanings than the peacemaking process described in the quote. But if God has promised peace or comfort, why do you think God hasn’t followed through on that promise?

      • couldn’t agree more. a god could easily bring peace to all. i think about the flood. not only was this a pathetic solution, and not only did god destroy evildoers, he also destroyed animals. god is a joke. a false sense of comfort from a pretend god is childish.

      • And yet recognizing that some reach for comfort in different places than others honors our common humanity.

      • Katherine, That’s true. I understand many get comfort from religious beliefs, and I’m okay with that. I objected so strongly because I saw the subject of peacemaking as much more significant than simply feeling okay.

        It bothered me that peacemaking, which clearly requires a ‘careful arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice,’ could be regarded with such religious reductionism.

        And so often the religious response is something like that. “Don’t worry, let God handle it.” (i.e. If the problem seems too difficult, ignore it, and have good feelings.) To me, this is not even an attempt at a viable alternative.

      • Ah, right — that’s a good point.
        The idea of peace can make one person think of the micro — how it applies personally — and another of the macro — among humanity generally. And while there may be overlap, it could be confusing to conflate them.
        I agree with you that Claiborne here meant to address the latter. Peace*making* is arduous, because it requires addressing injustice — not something accomplished by relinquishment.

      • I appreciate your comments, Jamison.
        Those are provocative propositions — contrasting Claiborne’s words with biblical references, especially Jesus’s expression of intent that you cite.
        Of course, other biblical quotes support seeking peace without the sword; i agree that such conflicts within the writings must be confronted.
        When i wrote this post, i imagined some readers halting at the idea of not destroying the evildoer, and thinking it ought to be part of the equation. (One reader did later express exactly that to me privately.)
        Indeed, the focus on disarming the evil itself and disallowing the destruction of perpetrators was at the core of what grabbed me about the quote.
        I’m looking forward to other responses to your closing question, Jamison.

    • Hello Maxim – thank you for commenting!
      Yes, i thought of that lyric too as i wrote this post.
      Here’s another: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” (Michael Jackson)

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