Today is International Day of Peace and I asked Jeff several weeks ago to begin thinking about writing something for the blog related to peace. Jeff is passionate about peace-making/peace-building so I knew he wouldn't mind! Here is what he wrote:
What is peace? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Some would say that peace is the opposite of conflict. That is a normal response. Some would say that peace is about calmness or stillness. Some would call peace, tolerance. All these and many more are appropriate responses to the questions of, what is peace. We all bring our own presuppositions to the table when we describe peace, and I bring my own and I would like to share them here.
I would like to start out by quoting a line from a song in a movie. My wife will laugh but, I feel strongly that this movie has so many wonderful lessons of life. That movie is “A Muppet’s Christmas Carol”, the Lee kids know what I am talking about. There is a line in that movie that is from a couple of Muppets, Jerry Statler and Conrad Waldorf, who play Jacob and Robert Marley the partners of Ebenezer Scrooge.The line is simple it is, “As freedom comes from giving love, prison comes from hate.” To me that is what peace is. Peace is more than just the lack of external conflict. One can still be living in fear and without peace with the absence of external conflict. Fear is living without peace, and fear comes from hatred, and therefore it causes bondage for both the oppressed and the oppressor.
We live in a time of fear and hatred of the other. We fear what we do not understand. We do not understand because we do not open ourselves up to experiencing others. We have to be vulnerable in our relationships. I define peace as freedom. How does freedom come to those who need it, and we all need it. It comes by giving love to each other. Where ever there is hate we need to break the chains of oppression by giving out love.
What does it mean to do justice for the orphaned and the oppressed? As a follower of Christ it is my responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. There is more to my responsibility than just speaking out for them. I am also called to act. My actions should be against oppression. Every word that I speak should be for justice. I must continue to push toward justice and peace for all of life. Life is precious and has meaning.
Another line that I would like to quote comes from a film titled “Beyond our Differences” and this one is a must see. The film is about how humans relate to each other through religion. I am a proponent that each of the different faiths that humans practice is about love in some way. Jessiee Kaur Singh said, “When we see God in all, then we are, only then, beginning to see God.” We have to realize that God is in all of humanity. When we realize that God is in all of us maybe then it will be easier to give love, and freedom comes from that love. Peace is in that freedom.