Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 29, 2016
PEACE, Best Achieved Alongside of Justice
As I continue to ask people for their personal definition of PEACE, I am intrigued by the ones who have to think hard about the word or phrase they choose. Sometimes, taking a good deal of time for the answer. I am equally interested in the ones who immediately know what their definition is going to be.
Continuing the listening tour. I am traveling around in my efforts to pursue PEACE.
My friend and colleague from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Rev. Joe McInnis, invited me to attend the church he pastors, in Wilmette, Illinois. One of his parishioners knew immediately what his personal definition was, and he told me so!
An older man of definite ideas and opinions, his name is Peter Knobel. He told me PEACE is best achieved alongside of justice.
I told him how deep that point of view was! I asked him to elaborate. He said, “People sometimes associate peace with power and victory. A different vector of peace is alongside of justice. Like in South Africa, where for years they had a reconciliation and peace movement.” Peter considers peace and justice as closely connected. In his view, peace is best achieved using just and equitable means.
Peter’s words inspired me to think deeply. Yes, peace is an important concept. Yet, peace is out of reach for many people, throughout the world, especially in places of dissension, fighting and outright warfare. When Peter mentioned South Africa, I remembered several personal accounts I both read and heard of the troubles in South Africa.
Many people did not experience peace. Many people had horrible things happen to them, to their relatives and comrades, and to their homes and all they held dear. We cannot just wallpaper over those horrible, gut-wrenching, intensely agonizing events.
Yes, hurting people hurt people. Yes, hurting people need to be offered the place and the space to express that hurt, that pain, that anguish, that anger. And, yes. Hurting people can travel through their pain, through the muck and the mire, and come out the other side. Hurting people can journey the path of victim—through the possibility of justice, and out on the other side. They can identify as survivors. Finally—they can start that journey towards peace. Peacefulness. In large part, because of justice.
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