WORKING TO CREATE A CULTURE OF PEACE
by Sister Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican
Following the recent outbreaks of violence,
especially in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton,
Connecticut, many citizens are eager to get involved ion eradicating violence
and replacing it with a culture of justice and peace. Some time ago, President
Obama urged all people to band together and use their energy and imagination to
create a more peaceful world. Now is a good time to take on this task.
There is no one simple solution to this
problem. We need to look deep below the surface and address the causes of
violence, and then name some solutions in private and public life. It will take
everyone’s effort- people of different cultures, classes and creeds as well as
people of all ages to address the problem and then create something new.
Some of the causes may be economic, a search
for power, greed, unresolved conflicts, revenge, anger and fear, failure to
accomplish one’s dreams. We are all familiar with the words of the song: “Let
there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
Where do we begin?
Currently, some are recommending gun control
as a solution to the problem. That may be part of the solution, as in the gun
buy-back program, but a much broader response Is needed to learn about
non-violence and social change. Also, we must examine our culture of violence
and the games and movies in which children participate. When they see adults
using guns to solve problems, they may see it as a solution. We must stand up
against evil systems and do so with understanding and good will in order to
create standards that all can live up to, and do so with respect and dignity.
Adults can model non-violence to other adults and especially to children and
youth. Then they can learn to put these values into practice. Politicians can
practice civility in their political discourses. We must listen and learn from
the struggles of poor and deprived people and do so with respect.
We start out to create a peaceful world by
going deep within and laying a solid spiritual foundation on which to build our
hopes and goals. We ask for the guidance of the Spirit to direct our path and to
develop a deep reliance on the presence of God always available to us. This
foundation seems to be greatly lacking in many families and homes today. Even in
churches, we rarely hear sermons about the evil of violence and ways to address
it. Classes need to be established to help adults and children, learn about
non-violence and how it can be practiced in the home, school or wherever they
find themselves. Currently some are teaching conflict resolution in schools,
prisons, workplaces and other arenas.
We need to imagine a world without violence
and then start to put it into practice. While many of the solutions we hear
about are not new, they need to be consistently practiced with diligence and
hope. We can sit down together in groups and ask ourselves:
Look at the words we use, Do they bring hope
and healing and show respect or do they generate hostility and conflict?
Do we provide good example for youth today,
demonstrating ways to interact and communicate peace? Do we speak out against
violence wherever we find it?
Do we make judgments about others, without
sufficient knowledge of the circumstances they are experiencing? It does not
mean we agree with them on all their issues. We must speak our truth with
clarity and listen respectfully to the other side. We have a moral obligation
to speak out against injustice wherever we find it. There can be room for
healthy discord and discover and practice effective ways of dealing with anger,
hatred, revenge, or racist attitudes. All people, youth and adults can learn to
use conflict resolution skills.
Pope Paul V1 once reminded people that “there
is no peace without justice.” To bring about peace, we need to listen to the
struggles of suffering people and help them articulate what they see as a
solution, rather than imposing our solutions on them. A deep faith and love will
enable us to create a non-violent community and systems and structures that
support the dignity of all people.. If we are centered in prayer and the Spirit
of God, we can accomplish great things. When we approach life in a non-violent
manner, we try to walk in the other person’s shoes and try to understand where
they are coming from, and approach them in a reasonable and understanding way,
and helping them look more clearly at the issues involved. Another world is
indeed possible. Let us begin to create a world of peace and non-violence and do
so with courage, conviction and hope. No effort is too small to make a