Peacemaking and practice: humanity reclaimed
By Rev. T. Denise Anderson
But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
or mortals, that you care for them?”
Reflection: Cockroaches. Parasites. Animals.
These are all words used to refer to populations throughout the world that have been targeted for genocide, internment, extermination, deportation, and ethnic cleansing. The first step in these atrocities is always to divorce human beings from their humanity, usually through the use of dehumanizing language. If people are no longer regarded as people — if we can shift the public imagination to see them as something else — then there is no evil too great to impose upon them.
The writer of Hebrews invokes Psalm 8, which poses a humbling question: “What are humans that [God is] mindful of them?” Whatever humanity is, it is something deeply loved by God, as the Creator has shown time and time again. After all, humanity is something for which God was willing to sacrifice God’s only Son! It is something that must be cherished, protected, and, as God does, remembered.
Action: Take note of the subtle ways you strip someone of their humanity — through evening news apathy or the names we hurl in a fit of road rage. Challenge those images and messages that disregard the humanity of all.
Prayer: God, help us to see the beauty of humanity as you do. Correct us when we fail to see and love our siblings as ourselves. Make us partners with all in the work you’ve charged your children to do on earth. Amen.
Rev. T. Denise Anderson is the Coordinator for Racial and Intercultural Justice with the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. She served as the co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divides
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.