“If peace is to be built, it must start with the individual.”
“Nothing is so vital – or painful – as recognizing the unpeace in our own lives and hearts. For some of us it may be hatred or resentment; with others, deceit, dividedness, or confusion; still others, mere emptiness or depression. In the deepest sense it is all violence and must therefore be face and overcome.”
Johann Arnold, Seeking Peace
This is a key observation. It resonates with my experience. I have been struck, in visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, by the reality of peace in the lives of so many individuals - Israelis and Arabs, Jews, Christians and Muslims, who are working for peace. From a Sufi Muslim Sheikh to Rabbis for Human Rights to the Bereaved Parents Circle to Christian Peacemaker Team to the Quakers to Sabeel to Musalaha, and on and on, I have been overwhelmed by the spirit of women and men who have given their lives to protesting and working against violence and injustice, but are doing so without violence, inward or outward.
I notice this, am struck by it, am deeply convicted, because what I see makes me angry, makes me want to do something. I feel violence (I hate to admit it) stirring within me, welling up, and recognize my lack of the kind of inner peace that Arnold is talking about.
And I realize that it is not possible to make a positive contribution to peace (in the world, between people in conflict) without being at peace - again, in the way described by Arnold - within oneself.
And I know that I have much to learn, much to grow, much still to receive from the one I follow, Jesus, the Prince of Peace.