Memorializing Peace May 25, 2009Posted by Matt in peace.
Tags: Memorial Day, peace, quotes
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. – Matt 5:9
We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations in the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a “peace race.” If we have the will and determination to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children. – Jimmy Carter
Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience. – Thomas Merton
The followers of Christ have been called to peace…and they must not only have peace but also must make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. The renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Far East Gleanings June 10, 2008Posted by Matt in peace, religion.
Tags: peace, Tao Te Ching
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I’ve had a certain fascination with Eastern religions for the past several years, reading books about them as well as owning copies of some of their holy tomes. This evening while the girls were in the tub, I picked up the Tao Te Ching and opened it randomly to this page:
Weapons are the tools of violence
all decent men detest them
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t with them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.
A Day of Remembrance January 21, 2008Posted by Matt in peace, poverty.
Tags: I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King, peace
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For one of the greatest figures in American History…
Isaac and the Wells January 14, 2008Posted by Matt in Bible, god, love, peace.
Tags: Bible, giving, Isaac, love, peace, turning the other cheek
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I’m a voracious reader, but have always been incredibly bad about regularly reading my Bible. So, in an attempt to try something new, I’ve begun listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcast, which is available on Itunes, during my short commute to and from work each day. Each day a guy named Brian reads scripture in his annoyingly breathy voice, choosing selections from the Old Testament (beginning with Genesis), the New Testament (beginning with Matthew), Psalms and Proverbs.
Today’s scripture came from Genesis 26 and 27, which deals with the relationships of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, both with each other and with those outside the family. There was a story, though, that caught my attention this morning, one that I know I’ve read before but perhaps have never really thought about.
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, [b] because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. [c] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, [d] saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
I was really struck by the attitude of Isaac who, when the herdsmen of Gerar complained about the placement of his well, willingly gave in to avoid an unneeded conflict. Even more amazing is the fact that it happened not just once, but twice.
So, it made me think about us, in today’s modern world. Imagine that you had a prized possession that was very important to you. Then imagine that somebody came along, claimed it belonged to them rather than you, and took it from you. What sort of reaction would you have?
Would you fight them physically to have it returned to you? Would you take the person to court, suing them for the rights to the object of your desire? Would you take to the airwaves, proclaiming how terrible this person is in an attempt to ruin their reputation?
Or would you take the road that Isaac took and graciously move on?
It’s a hard situation for us, in our overly-aggressive modern world where we vehemently defend what we see to be ours – either in terms of physical possessions or rights or ideals – but it is one that many are regularly faced with. It’s not easy to put our love for others (even our enemies) and a desire for peace above our own wants and desires.
I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matt 5: 38-42
38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Peace in a Violent World October 3, 2007Posted by Matt in god, peace, war.
Tags: human nature, Jesus, nonviolence, peace
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Originally Posted 10/3/07
We are a violent people.
From the first moments our ancestors emerged from the primordial sludge eons upon eons ago, they were involved in single-celled scuffles, struggling with all of their might for dominance and survival. Time and time again, throughout the multitiude of millennia and across our small, insignificant-seeming blue orb, our savage natures have resurfaced. From the Genensis legend of Cain and Abel to countless wars to today’s ever-present street crime, our Darwinian predilection toward self-propagation is ever-present in our thoughts and deeds. Our bend toward ferocity premeates even the smallest cells of our physical body as antibodies engage in battle with whatever pathogens attempt to invade the sacrosanct space they defend from harm. Every part of our being seems whoop out a brutish war cry.
But, regardless of this, we are called to be different.
We believe that God dwelt among us in the form of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who came not with fists and swords and AK-47s, but with love. We believe in His example, in which he laid down His life without retaliation.
We are called to not just love our neighbors, but to also love our enemies, regardless of the consequences. It may seem naive to those bent on their own subsistence, looking to survive by any means necessary, but it is the way. It is the path to which He calls us and that, by accepting Him, we choose to walk.