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Thursday, September 17, 2009


"Is peace simply "the absence of war"?

This week's blogger question on www.odysseynetworks.org is "Is peace simply the absence of war?" My response follows. As you know, if you have been reading my blog postings, these blogs are part of a larger effort to recruit "A Million Minutes for Peace," that is, to have 1,000,000 people pray for peace for one minute at noon on the UN International Day of Peace, September 21st. You can sign up for this effort on Odyssey's website also - www.odysseynetworks.org.


Is peace simply "the absence of war"?

Of course, the simple and direct answer to this question is “no” – peace is not simply “the absence of war.” However, before I reflect on peace in a wider perspective, I must say that, if we asked people in Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or you name the war-torn country or area, they would probably say that peace as simply “the absence of war” would be just fine, thank you, and a welcome relief!

So, I do hope we are praying on September 21st and every day for an end to war and for peace in that sense. I also hope we are praying for personal peace (peace of heart and mind), for peace in our families and with our spouses/partners, and for peace in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and communities and cities. This peace can look very different from “the absence of war” but, if you ask a child with an abusive parent or parents, they would certainly describe what might only be called a “war-like” atmosphere at home and if you asked a mother in a poor area racked by poverty and violence, their answer wouldn’t be much different than those in the midst of an “official” war. “The absence of war” would be just fine, thank you.

I see far too many people in my community who cannot find any peace because the world has dealt them a very cruel hand. All too often here at our church office one of our pastors or our deacon will exclaim, “the poor are getting screwed again!” as we try to help someone who has had their electricity cut off for a late bill or had their car repossessed after getting behind on a payment (just last week for those two!)

So, let’s pray for peace in the world’s trouble spots, no question. But, let us also pray for peace in our hearts and homes and communities, especially for the poor whose lives offer them little peace.


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