“You might quiet the whole world if you pray. And if you love, if you really love, our guns will wilt.” –St. John of the Cross
The International Day of Prayer for Peace provides a time for contemplating those things that make for peace and our own role in peacemaking. Whether you gather with people of other faith traditions in a service of worship or consider the ways you can work for peace on your own, the focus of September 21st is a worldwide reminder that it is necessary to truly work for those things that make for peace. As Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
Just as war is waged by military personnel who undergo significant training so peace also needs to be waged. And peacemakers need to be trained in the ways that make for peace. All too often we act as if peacemakers are simply born, failing to acknowledge all the work that goes into preparing for non-violent actions and the study that is put into understanding injustices and finding ways to work for justice and peace.
The Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.”
Let us work together so the 2012 International Day of Prayer for Peace becomes a day of commitment to feed our loving, compassionate nature, working for peace wherever and however God may call us to be “angelic troublemakers.” (Bayard Rustin)
I find it difficult to conceive of a more concrete way to love than by praying for one’s enemies. It makes you conscious of the hard fact that, in God’s eyes, you’re no more and no less worthy of being loved than any other person, and it creates an awareness of profound solidarity with all other human beings…. And you’ll be delighted to discover that you can no longer remain angry with people for whom you’ve really and truly prayed.–Henri Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.– Martin Luther King, Jr.