This article was originally written for Orbisology, and can be read here.
September 21st is the International Day of Peace, and as I come to write this, preparations are under way for prayer services, vigils, and advocacy focussed on that day.
Peace has a spiritual quality; in my own tradition it is described as one of the “fruits of the Spirit.” It also has very concrete and complex social, relational, economic, political and legal aspects. All of this means that the quest for peace has about it something of the quality of a “wicked problem.”
This leads my reflections in two different directions; one is to note for you the existence of the organisation, Science for Peace. You might be interested in checking out their list of current working groups, here: http://scienceforpeace.ca/current-working-groups
The other is to note how often a lack of peace is a failure of compassion. We do not have compassion for others, especially those we judge to be less powerful than ourselves, and so we feel free to resort to the oppressive use of power in serving our own interests.
So my challenge to you all is; on this coming day of peace, or at any other time, what might you do to seek peace and pursue it? Whether that’s within yourself, in personal relationships, or on a wider scale, how might you contribute to a more peaceful world?
And if that seems too abstract or overwhelming, here are some questions to prompt reflection:
- What experiences in my past make it easy or difficult to be compassionate with myself?
- What is it like for me when people are compassionate towards me?
- What makes someone deserving of my compassion? Undeserving?
- What attitudes and emotions surface when I relate to emotionally needy or dysfunctional people?
- Read an account from someone caught up in a situation of conflict (see here for examples). Imagine yourself in the situation faced by that person. How does their experience impact your perspective?
Come, O Justice, come, O Peace:
come and shape our hearts anew;
come and make oppression cease:
bring us all to life in you.