Nonviolence and the Promotion of Peace

I have long been intrigued by the connection between peace and prosperity. When people are safe and free I believe they are better able to participate in their local communities and economies. As they become involved, they create prosperity and security for themselves and those around them. It all starts with peace.

Del Anderson, Spirit in Action’s founder, wrote often about finding peace within oneself and sharing it with others. In 2002 Del wrote, “Being and expressing this peace and participating with God in bringing peace here on earth as it is in heaven is an activity of being a co-creator with God. Bringing peace on earth is being in God’s grace activity and also brings forth a flow of health to mind and body.” In other words peace brings empowerment.

How do we begin to think about peace in a world so full of conflict? Mark Kurlansky’s book, Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea starts by exploring the concept of nonviolence – choosing to explain nonviolence as not merely opposition to violence but also as a positive action towards social change and equality. This is similar to what Martin Luther King, Jr. is advocating for when he says in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” Oftentimes a violent person expects the victim to react with violence, however, if one can react by standing firm in love and peace it catches the aggressor off-guard, creating space for social progress.

I know this all sounds like a far-fetched dream but Kurlansky makes a great case for the possibility of nonviolent revolution. Also, The Friends Committee on National Legislation provides some great information about the effectiveness of diplomacy and development for the “peaceful prevention of deadly conflict”. Similarly, I am encouraged when I read about the work of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, which sends trained peacekeepers into conflict areas to encourage productive discussion and protect citizens. They point out that peace and diplomacy are much cheaper than war and armies.

Creating peace is a difficult and important job! At Spirit in Action we pray and act for peace with this thing Martin Luther King, Jr. calls “soul force”. We call on the spirit inside each of us to be put to action, which creates a positive force toward understanding, support, and empowerment. On this Memorial Day I hope you will join me in celebrating those brave souls who have stood up for a better world through nonviolence and the promotion of peace.

I will end with a blessing my Grandma Barbara often says: “May peace prevail on earth and in your heart.”

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3 Responses to “Nonviolence and the Promotion of Peace”

  1. Gena June 1, 2010 7:40 am
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    Great essay! I like the idea that responding to violence by “standing firm in love and peace” can ignite peace and social progress. It would require a firm foundation of support, determination, education, and faith not to react automatically with more violence, and I see a lack of these resources on the part of the victims of violence as the biggest obstacle to peace.

  2. admin June 1, 2010 8:52 am
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    Gena: I do think that “a firm foundation of support” is crucial for positive action. It’s much harder for individuals alone to stand up to violence but if a large group is willing to stand together it will make a much larger impact. There was a story in Kurlansky’s book about citizens in Peshawar (Pakistan, 1920s) standing in a line a getting shot at by the military – as people were shot others moved in to take their place. Many died but it also recruited many more people for the cause against violence. Now that’s brave!

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