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Essay On Justice And Peace

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE – A CALL TO CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY AS PEACEMAKERS

By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

This year, 2013, September 21st is designated as International Day of Peace. Each year, the United Nations invites all people and nations around the world,  to hear and respond to the call to create a peaceful world. This Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly.   It was “designed to create a specific time each year, to concentrate the efforts of the UN and its Member States as well as the whole human race, to promote the ideals of peace and to give positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.”

This year there is a specific call to address and eliminate bullying and to practice civil discourse in homes, schools, churches, communities and government, or wherever it is practiced. The call to practice and live peace is for all human beings, regardless of age, color, creed, class or place of origin. All are invited to participate. Peace is badly needed all over the world at this time. We must believe that peace is indeed possible and the Spirit will show us the way to live in peace and harmony wherever we are.

What are some of the ways that groups can be engaged in creating a just, peaceful and inclusive society?

The first and most important thing is to pray and reflect on the meaning of peace and ways to be involved. Invite God to remove all the obstacles in our minds and hearts and allow God’s peace to fill them with light, hope and peace. Include all people in this endeavor. Each has something to offer to make peace a reality in our time and place. Gather in small groups and choose some way they can be involved.

Educators have an important part to play in working for peace. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, said:”It is not enough to teach children to read, write and converse. We must teach them to have respect for themselves, for others and for the world in which we live.” Children need to learn ways to be respectful to each other wherever they are. They can create posters and share their plans for peace-making. Reach out across lines of color, class and creed and demonstrate that peace is possible. Teach children ways to be civil and respectful in their relationships. Plan activities to learn about and share their efforts at peace-making. Plan a celebration to share how they are working for peace and harmony. (Do a Google Search for World Peace Day 2013.)

What can Faith Communities and other organizations do to work for peace? Mahatma Gandhi once said that “We must be the change we want to see happen.” We can learn about ways to address anger and resentment and  participate creatively and peacefully in our interactions. Conflict Resolutions Skills are available for children and adults to learn about ways to have peaceful interactions and to resolve conflicts.

Commentaries on the need to work for peace can be sent to media at a local, state or national level.   Writing to legislators at all levels about justice and peace issues is very important. Encourage them to choose peace and not war to solve problems. Explain to them that violence only begets more violence. The money used for wars is needed to help those struggling with life issues and ways to live with human dignity and have needed resources. Margaret Mead once reminded us,  “Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world. In fact it is the only thing that ever has.” All of us need to confront continuing and expanding poverty, dependency, hostility towards immigrants and refugees. How can we resist a culture of growing violence at every level of society? We as a nation continue to use violence as a means of solving problems. By looking at the underlying causes of violence, we can help  stop using bandaid solutions in solving problems. We need to work to identify what caused the problems in the first place, and then to choose a different path.

Diverse groups can come together and share ideas and plans and design life so that no one is excluded from it. Create communities where people can live in harmony and use their diverse gifts to bring new life to our world. Think of the common good. What kind of world do we want to leave to future generations?

People anywhere can celebrate the International Day of Peace. It can be as simple as lighting a peace candle, engaging in prayer and meditation on peace, working with children and families to create peaceful ways of living and relating.  This is the work of a lifetime. Take this opportunity to bring peace to our relationships, our nation and our world. Imagine a world that is peaceful, and have children and other groups express it in words and actions. Npo effort is too small to make a difference.


 

A RENEWED CALL TO CREATE A CULTURE OF PEACE

by Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

In recent times, there is an increase in violence at  local, state and national  levels. All kinds of violence plagues many communities, leaving some  people wallowing in darkness and despair. The solution belongs to the entire community .  Each one of us, regardless of age, condition, class, culture or religious affiliation  must be part of the solution.

As we prepare for the International Day of Peace, it is a good time to reflect on the issue and plan to do our part to create a peaceful community, nation and world.  To accomplish this task successfully, we must spend time each day in prayer and contemplation and invite God to direct our path, show us how to remove the obstacles, and allow Divine Light to replace the darkness.

The United Nations Education Program – UNESCO- provides excellent ideas to help us to create a culture of peace and non-violence.( For the full report go to http://.unesco.org/new/en/bureau-of-strategic-planning/them) . We are reminded that wars begin in the minds and hearts of people. It is in the same place that the defense of peace must be constructed. The peace we build must be built on a secure foundation, not just on political and economic arrangements , but upon an intellectual and moral solidarity with all of mankind. This has been a long-time endeavor of UNESCO – o promoter of mutual understanding while working to eliminate discrimination, intolerance and violence. We are called to learn to live together by fully participating in the infinite wealth of the cultures of the world and by averting the fear reflex when confronted with “otherness.” This calls for a genuine and lasting dialogue, to rethink the values of cultural diversity and to bridge cultural and religious barriers as well as to break stereotypes and to turn people  away from violence . We must also rethink our relationship to the economy , to society, and the environment, because the future challenges of humankind do require  collective response. This kind of solidarity can result in a culture of peace and non-violence. Sustainable development will help people live their lives with dignity, peace and hope.

What can we do to create a culture of peace?

Adults must model for children and youth what it means to live in peace. Show them there are other ways to solve disputes besides engaging in violence. They can be taught peace -making skills, and conflict resolution can be taught in schools and other groups to help people create peace in hearts, homes and communities.  Often our nation uses war and conflict as a way of solving problems. Write to legislators and urge them to find peaceful ways of solving problems and diverting some of our resources toward peace-making and justice issues. We need to learn from people of other cultures and respect and use their gifts in our communities. Review and reshape the ways we relate to them.  Work toward respect and peace in our homes, in our interactions and relationships with them. May God’s peace fill our hearts, our homes, our nation and our world.

Faith communities can reach out to people, those standing on street corners or belonging to gangs and give them soul food to meet their needs and help them redirect their lives. Don’t be afraid to challenge their behavior and show them ways to practice peace.

We must believe peace is possible and continue the peace-making endeavor in all its forms. Involve the whole community in coming up with solutions. Think of a pebble cast into the water. It will create ripples. Each ripple joined with others can create a force for good and made a big difference. May we continue our journey with peace, faith, hope and love.  No effort is too small to make a difference. With God’s help we can transform our communities and world from one of violence and war to one of peace and dignity for all. 

In Solidarity with Those Who Are Most Vulnerable

Journeying with people of different religions, races, and cultures, and listening profoundly to the joys and suffering of humanity, have allowed us to be touched by the poverty, inequality, exclusion, violence, and environmental destruction that are present in today’s world. We suffer the pain of our peoples. From our contemplation of the Pierced Heart of Jesus in the heart of wounded humanity flows the desire to commit ourselves with greater passion and compassion to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.

We are convinced that “to educate is in itself an act of justice” (Letter of the General Council, Feast of the Sacred Heart, June, 2006). We take the responsibility to orient all our educative endeavors toward creating relationships of equality, inclusion, non-violence, and harmony, believing that to have life, and life in abundance, is the deepest desire of God. In whatever apostolic activity we may be engaged, our educative mission makes visible our solidarity with those who are excluded. The pursuit of justice, peace, and integrity of creation permeates all aspects of our lives. We want to include these in the criteria we use for discerning our relationships, ministries, and commitments. In so doing, all our choices will be marked by Gospel values.

Taking on this commitment in daily life:

  • calls each one of us to a change in our personal and communal lifestyle, in our mentality and attitudes, and in the way we make choices
  • offers us new ways of living our vows more congruently
  • impels us to search for different ways of living our community of goods, inclusiveness, and communion
  • invites us to relate in a new way with ourselves, with others, and with all of creation.

With gratitude, we celebrate the daily efforts of men and women in search of a better world. With them, strengthened by the Spirit, we want to continue finding the face of God in the future towards which we journey. We find hope in initiatives towards solidarity and reconciliation, gestures of sharing goods and of caring for life, and words that console and challenge us. In the beating of these human hearts in accordance with the rhythm of life, with joy we discover the love of the Heart of Jesus.

(Adapted from General Chapter 2008 Documents, ©Society of the Sacred Heart)

Read an essay by Mary Kay Hunyady, RSCJ

Visit our international site for a reflection on JPIC from one of the RSCJ in Argentina.

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