Making peace by ending violence
Confronting corporate violence
Rev. Eric Markman
The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
Reflection: It was my first month as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small village in Sierra Leone. Night came quickly near the equator; with no electricity, darkness prevailed. Asleep in bed, I was suddenly awakened by a woman wailing in agony. Going outside, I found her surrounded by other villagers, holding a baby in her arms. It took only a minute to understand what was going on. The baby, hardly two months old, was dying. The moon bathed the scene in an eerie silver light as the mother wailed. Occasionally handing the baby to someone else, she would fall to the ground and writhe in pain. It was a truly terrible night, one that I will never forget.
After the funeral, I learned that the dispensary in the neighboring town was giving out free baby formula from Nestle to expectant mothers. The rainy season had started, and our village well was contaminated by runoff. Unbeknownst to the mother, mixing the formula with the village water gave her child diarrhea, which dehydrated her and led to her death.
Violence comes in many forms. In this case, it came from a large western company giving free samples of baby formula, causing mothers to lose their own milk. After the first free samples, mothers became dependent on the formula and had to purchase the rest. Nestle increased its profits, but this mother and her child paid the price.
Action: It can be difficult to keep up with what is happening in the world. Serving those immediately around us is certainly part of our Christian calling. But what happens in the broader world is just as important. Take a moment today to go to pcusa.org/worldmission or pcusa.org/internationalpeacemakers and read about the experiences of our mission partners around the world.
Prayer: Creator God, your Son calls women and men of every age to follow him. Create in us hearts that seek the path that Jesus sets before us. Fill our sails with the wind of the Holy Spirit, that we may be strong to seek justice and end violence in all its forms. Help us remember the love that Jesus has for all. May it ever fill us! Amen.
Rev. Markman is pastor of Hartford Presbyterian Church in Natick, MA. He deeply enjoys the ministry and is married to Rev. Cindy Kohlmann.
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, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the 29 days of this year’s Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
- What does it mean to commit to Peace?
- Making peace by addressing root causes of poverty
- Making peace by disrupting systematic racism
- Making peace by ending violence
- Making peace by supporting refugees and migrants
- Partaking in peace in worship and at table this World Communion Sunday and through the Peace & Global Witness Offering
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 1, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 6.