Posted by: gcarkner | November 11, 2012

A Mandate for Peace

Let’s Not Forget about Peace as a Verb

The wars and violence against innocents at work in our global village are staggering. Remembrance Day is a time to stop the clock, to step back from our aggressive pursuits and struggles, our grab for power and dominance at all costs, our climb up the many ladders of success. The biblical book of James chapter 3 is a place to dwell for a moment, especially verses 13-18 speaks of  Two Kinds of Wisdom, one of the most profound, watershed passages in Scripture, reminding us of the cry of wisdom in ancient Hebrew literature (Proverbs). There is deep and practical relevance here, a sounding of human depths. God is in the business of taming the tongue, sourcing and directing our hearts towards the higher good. With Rene Girard lenses, one realizes how mimetic rivalry (bitter envy, selfish ambition, rancour and partisanship) and violence is so close to the heart of the human condition (despite our continuous denial of it). There’s a pirate in us all if we dare look at our dark side. Science has no answers in this arena; it remains dumbfounded.

The biblical narrative is all about recognizing this sad condition and redeeming it for the good of the the individual, community, society and the glory of God, protecting the innocent and the stranger (calling her/him ‘person’, ‘neighbour’ and ‘friend’). Our Lord Christ says, “Choose this day what kind of wisdom trajectory you will follow. Choose it carefully. The consequences are significant. One path, filled with hidden IEDs, will destroy you and many others in the machinations of death dealing ambition; the other will give a platform for a life of flourishing, a constructive lifestyle, a human course.”

We remember today November 11 all the young boys (17, 18, 19 on many graves of the Canadian cemeteries in Holland, France & Belgium) who gave lifeblood in our grand theatres of violence in the twentieth century. Our technological advances brought us more ruthless and more efficient killing machines: weapons of mass destruction we geniuses invented. We justify the monumental carnage by saying they fought for freedom or homeland, God or family. Is 50 million enough? The ambivalence of war is played out in the movie Das Boot about a German U-Boat crew. What happened to us gifted, enlightened moderns? Where is that new utopia reason promised us? Was it really a ruse, a dystopia in disguise?

Shh… Quiet please… Let these boys now speak and we listen. They pass on to us some wisdom from their struggle in life and death, the mandate to find and pursue at all costs the ways of peace and righteousness, to address the cries of injustice. Peace is a Verb in this regard, a resolve, a dedicated search, a lobby for life on a trajectory that matters. It is the way of good faith. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God, Jesus taught us and lived for us.

Author Eugene Peterson marks out the course when he notes that the hope driven practice of resurrection is a “non-violent embrace of life in the country of death.”  From God’s perspective, “the energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the heart of the universe”. This is good news! God is in the business of peace and reconciliation; he is its main supply line. Listen long and hard… These boys we knew as brothers and fathers, uncles and husbands have truth to tell. It is the message of Jubilee and Shalom.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved,

And now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Reading: Miraslov Volf, Exclusion & Embrace: a theological exploration of identity, otherness and reconcilaiation.

"In Flanders Fields" memorial on the...

“In Flanders Fields” memorial on the war site John McCrae. Boezinge, Ieper, West Flanders, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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