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|The Prince of Peace|
Apr. 6th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
Brian Duffin put out a call for the bloggernacle to post on this topic, but ended up leaving the country and I don’t think it ever got organized. The subject itself—with an emphasis on eschewing war—makes me feel guilty. Because I’m war-like by nature. I’ve spoken loudly and proudly against the Iraq war, but felt we should have retaliated against the Taliban and Al Queda. “We should make a parking lot out of Afganistan” I said a lot in those days after 9/11.
But, in my heart of hearts, I know I’m a lucky duck and should be more charitable I am grateful and thank God often that I have hot and cold running water–and plenty of it—a soft bed in a warm home. I don’t worry about being dragged from that bed and gang raped by soldiers or my children being blown up by a car bomb. My heart aches for the mothers of Afganistan and those in Africa and elsewhere that war flourishes..
I wonder how often we think about Jesus as a true Prince of Peace, except as a vague poetic concept–at Christmas. As we ponder “wars and rumors of wars” around the world and feel anxiety and perhaps even fear from the safety of our American-ness in our safe lives, it might be good to reflect on the meaning of “Peace” and our role in promoting peace in the world.
One problem I have is how quickly discouraged I become when I think about what’s going on in the world. Kony 12? I can forward forwards and re-share on facebook, but I feel helpless to provide real relief to those poor people. I have a physical reaction when considering the inaction of our government in so many areas. Serbia, Croatia—we could have saved lives and it could have cost us little. Why didn’t we?
This morning I saw this headline on Huffington “Syrian children report torture at the hands of the government.” No doubt atrocities are being committed in North Korea and other countries with totalitarian regimes. It seems that there’s always some form of genocide being committed somewhere. Genocide didn’t start with Hitler and it hasn’t ended. Anybody know anything about the genocide in Armenia? What is up with the human race’s need to exterminate each other?
I have a wise and wonderful friend who pointed out to me when I was waxing poetic on this subject that she believes the best thing we can do is live peaceably in our homes and our neighborhoods. Believe it or not, I’ve been trying to live more peaceably with those I am in closest contact with these days because I’m finding that contention is poison to me. It festers and wounds my soul and my body. I’m so good at the knee-jerk insult, the “best defense is a good offense”—learned by necessity as a dirty little outcast when I was growing up.
God has been helping. He’s given me quick insights into the hearts of those I’m contending with, their sorrow and despair and heartaches. So annoying, to feel someone else’s desperation when I feel like them flipping them off in traffic! I’ve had some spiritual experiences and pray for strength and guidance. AA talks about ceasing fighting. “Cease Fighting”—anything and anyone. It’s hard to overcome a habit of a lifetime, but sometimes I can do it, let it go.
My Russian professor once said something about the wars in the middle east to the effect that “there will never be peace, because they’ve killed each others children.” Whatever motivates that guy in Africa escapes me, but isn’t most war at its heart personal? Didn’t someone somewhere have a personal experience or opinion they decided to act on in a violent manner? 3000 people died on 9/11, those people had thousands of devastated loved ones, and millions of Americans took it personally and mourned them. I was all over making a parking lot out of Afganistan. President Bush invaded Iraq over a personal threat to his father (I know, that’s simplifying).
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” is what runs through my mind at this Easter season. I can choose to love my husband instead of resenting his foibles and lashing out. I can choose to love my neighbors and focus on their goodness (even when their dogs, once again, wake me up at 3 am barking at possums). I can choose to love my children and let them make their mistakes uncriticized by me. I can be kind to the inept checker and I can let the impatient driver pass me with a smile. I can accept my own powerlessness in the lives of my children and honor their—and their imperfect spouse’s—personhood.
Because in eternal terms, it’s over anyway. Jesus fixed all those inequities. He took my daughter-in-law’s bad choices, all the consequences, on Himself 2000 + years ago. If I truly want to honor him, I honor the love He had for all of us. Even the people I do not love.
War begins in the hearts of each individual. As you teach your children the allegory of the empty glove, the reality of the empty tomb and eat your Easter ham, consider where you might be contributing to the ripple of hate and contention in the world and try to reverse it. Even a tiny little bit.