This title may sound strange – does peace and weapons go together? Let me explain what weapons I have in mind…
Last week I participated in an international forum called “State of Europe” which focused on many of the issues and challenges facing Europe today. It took place in Riga, Latvia on May 9 which is celebrated as Europe Day (I talked about the roots of Europe Day in my last blog). Also many people in Latvia but mainly in Russia and a few other nations of former Soviet Union celebrate it as Victory Day. Victory in WWII over the power and aggression of National Socialism…
As I reflect on these two celebrations, I come to personal conclusion… Victory Day celebrates winning the war because people sacrificed and the Nazi Germany was overcome and ‘destroyed’ … Europe Day celebrates winning the peace because the foundations were forgiveness and reconciliation.
Tragically in Latvia the victory over Nazism did not bring peace because Latvia was then ruled and oppressed by another totalitarian regime and ideology – totalitarian communism. The ‘war’ was won but peace was not… In some ways we are still catching up.
Winning peace is much harder then winning a war. Because peace is a state of mind and heart. Peace is restored relationships. Peace is a strong will for common good. Peace is embrace and inclusion. Peace is repentance. Peace has no personal or national selfishness. Otherwise the hatred, bitterness and the old grievances are just buried and can be re-resurrected again and again. Sadly we can see this through the history of humankind.
The peace in Europe for so many decades is an amazing achievement and we should not take it for granted. But there is still some unfinished business and we talked about it during the forum in Riga.
One of the most significant historical persons whose lifestyle was a personification of winning peace was Jesus. Even people who do not believe in his divine claims or who do not follow his teachings know that he is famous as a peacemaker. We know that he talked a lot about inner and social peace. He also taught and showed people how to do it. How to be at peace with God, with ourselves, with others and with the created order…
And one of the important weapons in this process is acknowledging the truth. The truth that we are not at peace in many areas of our lives… The truth that our brother has something against us and it is our responsibility to go and reconcile… The truth that there is a much better way than becoming fearful, aggressive or pretending that there is nothing wrong…
But the strongest weapon is love. There is no fear in love. Love is sacrificial. Love loves enemies. Love binds everything in unity. Love is not self-seeking. Love fulfills the law. Love rejoices with the truth. Love hates evil.
If we care about winning the peace, let us choose our weapons very carefully.
4 thoughts on “The weapons of peacemakers”
I appreciate this article.
When the people are ready, or when the leader arises (depending on your view of history), perhaps winning peace is easier. When the people aren’t ready, it’s impossible.
This gives me encouragement to continue spreading the way of Christ in my culture. I’d like to see of us more ready to win peace.
What do you think of Middle Eastern accusations that Europe is the hotbed of war, while the Middle East has had much more stability? I think N. Ireland’s conflicts, the war & genocide in the former Yugoslavia, etc., might come up in such a discussion. That said, I appreciate the large-scale peace of Europe, which is unprecedented and fantastic.
Thanks, Pete! In my article I am mostly talking as a European to Europeans. I am challenging myself and my friends to think about Europe’s ‘unfinished business’ but, of course, the discourse can be universal. As you said, N.Ireland and the Balkans and now Ukraine are tragic conflicts. They have deep roots (a separate discussion, especially Ukraine) and the wounds have not healed yet.
People can point to the fact that there have been no wars between the countries of EU and this is one of the main reasons why countries want to join EU – to join peace and stability. Again, EU has lots of challenges but its foundations are built on solidarity, equality and peace. Specially between former ‘hereditary’ enemies. Most people in Europe realize that this peace was won because France and Germany reconciled and because Germany deeply repented. It did not just happen and from what I know, the post-war Europe was in a very difficult state and could have exploded again.
I am not a historian but in my short lifetime I have not known Middle East without wars. Certainly I would not call Middle East the hotbed of war even though it is obvious that there are some serious and deep problems and tensions between people and lots of ‘unfinished business’. I think the message of forgiveness and reconciliation is as relevant there as anywhere.
Good stuff… it is wonderful that the mistakes in the treatment of post-WW1 Germany weren’t duplicated after WW2, and it’s great to see the fruit of peace there. I have long wished the USA would pursue a Marshall Plan with the Middle East, as so much of the conflict is poverty and oppression based, but I guess that’s not going to happen.
Thank for your very clearsighted article! Since you mention “Europe’s Unfinished Business” I might as well add that there is conference in Caux, Switzerland, on “Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business”, where the topic will be how get the European rocket’s 2nd stage engine going. Truth and reconciliation were instrumental to ignite the first stage’ engine; they are desperately needed to treat current open wounds across the continent. Join us from 16 to 19 July.