Lord make me an instrument of thy peace on earth!

By Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh

“And if it’s peace we pray for and peace is what we give, then peace will be the way we are and peace the way we live” (John Denver, Peace poem).

Why is a peaceful interconnection between people sometimes so difficult? Haven’t we learned the lesson by now that fear, anger, hatred and bullying will hinder any capacity for peace in our world?

Throughout history wars conflicts and disagreements have led to various types of violence which causes so many people to suffer and die needlessly. We desperately need to embrace our respect for human life throughout this world.

How can we stop this hateful trend from moving in this direction? I remember my High school history teacher reminding us that “history tends to repeat itself.” But shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes in history? Conflicts that lead to anger and hatred are senseless and accomplish nothing.   

We have fought wars for so long; the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, The Russian Revolution, World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the Drone Wars just to name a few. With the possibility of North Korea hanging in the balance, when do we stop to say enough is enough? We have learned when studying history that the causes of wars vary from territorial conquests, to attempts to control borders, secure trade routes, respond to an internal challenge to political authority, and yes, religious causes. Is it possible that we can work together instead of saying all possible weapons and tactics need to be used to gain victory through warfare? Experience has taught us that the end result will only lead to loss of human life.

Deuteronomy states: “When you approach a city to do battle with it, you should call to it in peace.”  In other words, even when threatened, seeking peace must be our first course of action.  Ancient Rabbis took this teaching even further when they stated, “In God’s eyes the man stands high who makes peace between men. But he stands highest who establishes peace among the nations.”

Isaiah wrote, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Then there are our own hostilities on American soil. An example of this is certainly the recent attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, between armed white supremacists and protestors shouting angry words and hateful remarks.  All of this resulted in the death of 32-year old Heather Heyer and two police officers and so many that were injured in the process. When interviewed following the Charlottesville  aftermath on August 13 Reverend Seth Wispelwey of the local Sojourners United Church of Christ, made this comment, “I think in a Southern city, Southern town, white supremacy is woven into the American DNA. There’s a lot of unreconciled history that’s gone unchallenged.”

So let’s challenge it! But, let’s do it peacefully! “Wow, is it possible to do that?” Perhaps the answer lies in striving for peace by starting in our own homes, families, churches, schools, communities. In other words, one family at a time!

I grew up in a large Catholic family. We lived in a small house where arguing was a common occurrence. My mother used to insist that all of us sit at the kitchen table to talk about issues and disagreements. It seemed kind of silly to me at the time; now as I look back on it, she truly was insightful in her handling of her large family.     

“Last night I had the strangest dream, I ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war!” Greed, unbalanced power, hatred, are  all contributors to a world without peace.

Eliminating all of this should be our goal. In Jesus words, “Peace be with you!” Our response should be, “And with you too!”

rsz_1cathyCatherine Mendenhall-Baugh (Cathy) completed her education at the University of Nebraska majoring in Special Education and minoring in English Literature and now works in the insurance industry. A mother and a grandmother, Cathy grew up in a large Catholic family and has spent the last 30 years as a caregiver for her husband, Jack. A writer for Tuscany Press, she is also working on several longer writing projects.
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