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  • David Carlson

319: The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians

Day 319: Friday, January 29th 2021:

The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians

In the beginning was the Word

Word of peace

spelled in syllables

of water and earth

fire and air

rising like music

- Catherine de Vinck, “Peace Cantata”

Pope Francis writes: “Your thought on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution.” To pursue a vision of peace, we must focus on both the dignity of the human person and the common good.

The dreams of a child are peace.

The dreams of a mother are peace.

The words of love under trees are peace.

- Yannis Ritsos, “Peace”

Threads connect the patches of our lives, the fabric of our tradition, and the cloth of our hopes, slowly forming a picture that we could not have imagined alone.

Think about Holy Trinity Peace Village in South Africa where members of different tribes who used to call each other enemies now live, work, and solve problems as a community.

In the Philippines nonviolent movements led to Ferdinand Marcos stepping down from the presidency in 1986 and the countrywide peace education that has been going on there since shortly after that.

In the Magdalena Medio in Colombia, a local parish was surrounded by violent groups – the military – the police – the guerrilla forces. They taught peace - living the good news that there is no safety in weapons. That the only true and sustainable protection comes through trusting people. And that to win trust they had to go through a long process of dialogue and mutual acceptance.

Each story adds a new patch to the blanket of peace and non-violence.

Many more, we need so many more before we can cover the whole world in peace.

When wounds heal on the world’s face

and in the pits dug by shellfire we have planted trees

and in hearts scorched by conflagration hope sprouts its first buds

and the dead can turn over on their side and sleep without complaining

knowing their blood was not spilled in vain,

this is peace.

~ Yannis Ritsos, “Peace”

Mairead Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Northern Ireland, says that the promotion of peace requires us to engage with all people, regardless of how close or far we seem to be in ideology. She reiterated that we must do this always with love. When we recognize our common humanity, when we are willing to treat people with dignity and respect, it is then that we will be able to establish the relationships that can ultimately change a context of violence into one of peace.

This idea may sound naïve, but peacemakers from places like Uganda, Croatia, and Iraq—people who are far from naïve about the violence in the world use love, acceptance and non-violence as their tools for healing the wounds of war.

More patches.

It’s not time for war and killing

It’s time for life, it’s time to make love, time to visit with friends.

It’s time to play music and sing, sit down and eat, rise up and dance.

It’s time for music and dancing. ~ David Budbill, “Let the People Live!”

At Emmaus we urge all churches to:

“Integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the Church through dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others.”

Why must Christians embrace nonviolence? It is the way of Jesus. Our friend Fr. John Dear recalls Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians!”

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called on followers to love enemies, to be peacemakers, to forgive and repent (Matthew 5-7). When asked what should be done to the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said the one without sin should throw the first stone (John 8: 1-11).

Dear reminds us that at the Last Supper, Jesus spoke of giving his body for us. He did not ask us to sacrifice anyone else’s bodies.

The night before he died, Jesus told Peter to put down his sword (Matthew 26:52). As he was dying on the cross, he prayed, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If we wish to follow Jesus, we must practice nonviolence.

Patches sometimes ignored or neglected, we re-membered,

re-integrated into our expanding cover of peace.

“It became necessary

To destroy the town to save it,”

a United States major said today.

He was talking about the decision

by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town

regardless of civilian casualties,

to route the Vietcong.

- Denise Levertov, “Staying Alive: An Interim”

Why should all people embrace nonviolence? Quite simply, nonviolence is the most effective means to move toward peace. Whereas violent movements were 26 percent effective in achieving their stated short-term goals, nonviolent movements were more than twice as effective: 57 percent. The study also showed that nonviolent movements were at least ten times more likely than violent movements to result in the formation of democratic civil societies.

Bright pieces to add to our quilt.

Nonviolent movements include engagement with all levels of society, from grassroots on up. A key element of peace-building is relationship-building. Developing relationships of trust and care, especially across lines of conflict, takes time.

If we want peace, peace must be not only our goal, but our means. It must include dialogue and nonviolent resistance, as well as trauma healing, restorative justice practices, unarmed civilian protection, and other creative strategies.

O language, mother of thought,

are you rejecting us as we reject you?

Language, coral island

accrued from human comprehensions,

human dreams

you are eroded as war erodes us.

- Denise Levertov, “Staying Alive: An Interim”

Sometimes patches, too frayed to serve any longer, like the "just war" theory must be removed,so we may put new ones in their place.

“A Just Peace approach offers a vision and an ethic to build peace, as well as to prevent, defuse, and to heal the damage of violent conflict. This ethic includes a commitment to human dignity and thriving relationships, with specific criteria, virtues, and practices to guide our actions.”

When jails have been made over into libraries,

when a song ascends from threshold to threshold in the night

when the spring moon emerges from a cloud

like the worker who comes out of the neighborhood barber shop freshly shaven on a weekend,

this is peace.

~ Yannis Ritsos, “Peace”

The quilt of peace remains unfinished, but the sewing, the patching, the work continues.

On the backbone of my verses

the train advancing toward the future

laden with wheat and roses

is peace.

My brothers and sisters,

all the world with all its dreams

breathes deeply in peace.

Give us your hands, brothers and sisters,

This is peace.

~ Yannis Ritsos, “Peace”


Weave us Together by Rosemary Crow

Carole King - Tapestry

"Patchwork Quilt" - Phil Lesh & Friends

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