Eyes That Open to New Paths for Peace
Peace in the World
Henry Koenig Stone
Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.” (NRSV)
Reflection: This week, we reflect on the tools needed for peacemaking in the world, as well as on the tools that are overused and ineffective.
The first and greatest tool for peacemaking is love: the kind of radical love that welcomes strangers into your home, that shows mercy to those you name your “enemy,” and that brings the courage to take risks for peace. As the saying goes, “Do I not defeat my enemies, when I turn them into friends?” A second tool is organization: relationships cultivated over time. Building up trust and mechanisms to build economic and political support beams for peace can be the source of much in the way of stability and reconciliation in the world at large. A third tool is humility: acknowledging the blind spots within our own assumptions and limited expertise. While this is sometimes a frustrating thing to do, it can allow us to better serve the needs of people, which may be very different from our own needs. We must remember that we, too are in need of an introduction to God’s peace.
In a world of fear and division, the temptation is always to be drawn to the power of domination over “Others” — whether we define people as Other by their skin, their language, aspects of their identity or their chosen mode of faith. Too often, the first response we reach for when we are afraid is a violent one — a military crackdown to assert our own power and authority to police the world. But, barring very rare circumstances, diplomacy and multilateral international relations are more likely to lead to peaceful outcomes in the long run. God reminds us that, in the end, there is no lasting security that comes from force; the “conspiracies of the nations” are all in vain. The path of domination leads only to anger, suffering and violence. And so, instead, we are called to take our refuge in God — to trust in the call to honest witness in the world, to justice internationally, and, gradually, to a state of shalom/salaam between all peoples.
Practice for Peacemakers: This week, allow your assumptions about conflict to be challenged. Strive to see moments of contention as practice for peacemaking in your own life, and consider ways in which conflict de-escalation could be given greater priority in U.S. foreign policy.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to see the work of peacemaking through your eyes of love and understanding. May we not see an “Other” at the far side of the negotiating table, but instead be aware of the communion that is to exist between all of your children, regardless of ethnicity, geography or creed.
Henry Koenig Stone is the editor for this year’s Season of Peace Reflections. An activist and public policy wonk, he has previously served as editor of “Unbound” in Louisville, KY., and as associate for young adult social witness to the Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy.
This year’s Season of Peace Resources are designed to help participants explore practices for building peace on every scale. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Throughout the 29 days of the 2020 Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
Week 1 September 6–12: Peace Within
Week 2 September 13–19: Peace in Relationships
Week 3 September 20–26: Peace in Community
Week 4 September 27–October 3: Peace in the World
Final Day October 4: Holistic Peacemaking