Peace in the Era of Predatory Globalization and Global Terror: The Church as a Human Community of Peacebuilders

Peace in the Era of Predatory Globalization and Global Terror: The Church as a Human Community of Peacebuilders

Written by Eleazar S. Fernandez

Wars or armed conflicts are certainly not new in human history, and for various reasons. But, at a time when our rhetoric about “global village” has intensified, so has violence escalated and intensified around the world at a horrifying level. In its 2000 report, Project Ploughshares documented that by the end of 1999 there were 40 armed conflicts fought in 36 countries. This record is higher than the immediate past two years, with 36 armed conflicts in 31 countries in 1998 and 37 in 32 countries in 1997.[i] Most people in the global North are familiar with major armed conflicts that have become news headlines, such as the war of aggression by the United States against Iraq and its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the war in the Balkan region, the bloody conflict in Rwanda and East Timor, and most recently in Sudan. But these are just a few of the wars fought in recent years within and across national borders. 

The continent of Africa has surpassed many parts of the world in the number of armed conflicts, to name a few: Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Sudan, Mozambique, Chad, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Algeria, Somalia, Angola, and Ivory Coast. The civil war in Congo has been referred to as Africa’s first world war.[ii]  Somewhere in what is known as the Horn of Africa, the Eritrea-Ethiopia war erupted in February 1998 and intensified in 1999, with deaths estimated in the tens of thousands.  In Asia, to mention a few, Indonesia has experienced major armed conflicts between Christian and Muslim groups in the Molucca Islands, adding to its three other conflicts in West Papua, East Timor and Aceh.  India continues to be the location to three separate conflicts (Andhra Pradesh, Kashmir, and the Northeast region), and other Asian countries in similar situations are: Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Elsewhere, major armed conflicts have been experienced in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. In addition to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has continued to intensify, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt have known violent conflicts. The Americas have, likewise, not been spared, with conflicts in Peru, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Haiti. In Europe, the countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the United Kingdom have all experienced armed conflicts. Finally, following a period of relative stability initiated by the 1996 truce, Russia renewed its war against Chechnya in 1999.  

While reliable estimates are difficult to gather, most of the victims in current global conflicts are not combatants but civilians. This is worth noting especially when we compare the war-related casualties among civilians in major wars of this century. Civilian losses accounted for half of the war-related deaths in the 1950s, but it went up to three-quarters in the 1980s and then to 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s.[iii] In spite of the use of “smart” and “precision-guided” bombs by the United States in its war against Iraq, for example, most of the casualties have been civilians.  Many of the civilian casualties in recent wars and conflicts are not simply the result of accidental shooting or bombing, but have become targets themselves. Men and women civilians are tortured and then killed to demoralize the enemy. Systematic or strategic rape has become an instrument of war for the purpose of making the soldiers fight better and as a way of humiliating the enemy and destroying community life. In this type of warfare, to gain control over enemy women’s reproductive ability is a major goal, and rape provides that opportunity. A testimony from a Tutsi woman (Rwanda) who narrowly-escaped a gang-rape shows the ugly and abhorrent character of this war:

I was caught by a group of Interahamwe on 1 April 1994, along with about twenty other women, and we were held by them in Gatare sector. Some of them decided to rape us before killing us. Others of them refused to rape us. The ones that wanted to rape us began to rape the women one by one. About ten of them would gang-rape a woman, and when they had finished, they would kill her by pushing a sharpened stick the size of a  broomstick into her vagina until she was bleeding and almost dead.[iv]

Globalization and Global Conflicts

The escalation of armed conflicts around the world is not surprising in the context of predatory corporate globalization. I say not surprising because predatory corporate globalization can only thrive in violence, either through direct military action or in sowing seeds of violence and terrorism. The invisible hands of the global market need the fist of military might to suppress any opposition. Armed confrontations and violent conflicts, however, are not simply instruments of predatory corporate globalization; they are outcomes of predatory corporate globalization. Predatory corporate globalization breeds armed conflicts and terrorism because it creates and promotes social inequities, fatalism, and despair among its victims, undermines sovereign states, fragments communities and families, pollutes and destroys the ecosystem, desacralizes sacred places for profit, and disperses population as migrants and refugees. The homogenizing project of predatory corporate globalization triggers anti-globalist sentiments among those who believe that the worldview and values it is propagating are morally outrageous. Predatory corporate globalization continues to breed violent confrontation by undermining global harmony and stability.

What may at the surface appear as purely ethnic conflict is related to predatory globalization. Civil or ethnic conflicts in Africa and the Balkans have their deep roots in artificial territorial divisions carved by the colonial powers. The tension in Fiji between the Indo-Fijians and the native Fijians has deep roots in its colonial history. This is also the case in the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis (Rwanda) and among various clans in Somalia. The Hutus and the Tutsis had complex institutional structures during the pre-colonial times that not only allowed social mobility across class/caste lines but also across ethnic lines. Likewise, Somalia had a complex clan system that balanced the rights of grazing and water of different clans and a system of dispute resolution. These structures were destroyed during the colonial period and nothing viable took their place. Thus, when the colonial authority was gone, there was nothing to fall back into by way of institutional checks and balances.[v] So, while many armed conflicts are defined as conflicts of ethnicity, they should not be confused with identifying the causes of these conflicts. Woven into ethnic and national identity struggles are basic economic and social grievances that need to be addressed adequately.[vi]

Moreover, armed conflicts are not simply instruments or outcomes of capitalist globalization: they are an inevitable expression of the economization of war. In other words, predatory globalization rests on the foundation of a war economy. From the point of view of a war economy, armed conflicts are in themselves profitable. Proliferation of armaments is an expression of globalization. In August of 2001 a report from the U.S. Congress stated that international arms sales grew 8 percent in the previous year to nearly $36.9 billion. U.S. arms manufacturers accounted for $18.6 billion or roughly half. Of those arms sales, 68 percent were sold to countries of the global South.[vii] 

Predatory Corporate Globalization and the Culture of Violence

The escalation of violent conflicts around the world is an expression of the pervasiveness of the culture of violence. The militarization of economies continues to fuel a culture of violence in a more direct way. But the proclivity of our society toward violence has deeper roots in a culture that breeds and nourishes violence. At home, in our local neighborhoods, schools, and the wider public, we are relentlessly exposed to a culture that nourishes and perpetuates violence. For many individuals, the home is the first locus of encounter with violence, which then expands to the local neighborhood, school, and the wider society.

Overtly or subliminally, our society promotes violence through various media: in song lyrics that encourage hatred against others and oneself, in films and visual arts that encourage violence as a way of solving conflicts, in many competitive sports, comic books and toys, and even in what is supposed to be children’s TV cartoon series.[viii]  Parents are more likely to forbid their children from watching actual war footage. Studies show, however, that fictionalized TV violence may have more influence on children’s attitude toward war and other forms of violence than news showing actual footage of bloody combat encounters.[ix] Children’s comic books may also play a similar insidious function. The heroes or the “good guys” of comic books seldom use nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. The psychodynamics, says Walter Wink, follows this trajectory: the children identify with the “good guys” so they can think of themselves as good and then project onto the “bad guys” their repressed anger and rebelliousness. While they continue to identify with the “good guys,” they also get the privilege of vicariously enjoying their rebellious selves when the bad guys initially prevail. As expected, the “good guys” emerge victorious. The final death-blow is dealt to the “bad guys” and they end up decimated. Salvation is achieved and the children have found salvation by identifying with the heroes or the “good guys.” Furthermore, the satisfaction they feel in that salvation is intensified when the “good guys” use all their might to shred the “bad guys” to pieces.  This is the trajectory of the myth of redemptive violence.[x]

The children of the global South are not immune from the insidious influence of the media. In spite of pervasive poverty, television is widely used among the urban poor. In places where war and violent conflicts have continued to ravage the land, the encounter with violence is more direct. The sight of daily violence may have become normal for many kids. Others continue to live with the physical and psychological pain of the violence. In some areas, children have been trained to use high-powered weapons and engage in wars. In the inner cities, children are acculturated to violence through encounter with raw violence, usually between rival gangs. As a form of protection, they join gangs for the promise of protection.

The cultivation of a culture of violence through the media is gradual and steady. At first we are repelled by the violent act. But, as we continue to watch more and more we become numb to violence or become addicted to it. “The worst thing apathy to violence in the media does,” says Usha Jesudasan, “is that it stunts our conscience. When we no longer see it as something hateful and destructive, when we start making excuses for it, when we accept it as inevitable, then something terrible has happened to us.”[xi] In many ways, our world has been addicted to violence and we do not know other ways of settling conflicts except through violence. This is an addiction of individuals and communities, of small and large nations and of terrorists and counter-terrorists. The addiction to violence has done damage to our moral imagination in the direction of exploring ways of peace. Powerful nations, relying more on its military power than moral imagination, takes even a further step in its violence through pre-emptive strikes. Indeed, the culture of violence has engulfed the land. 

The Church in the Midst of Violent Conflicts

The church is in the midst of violent conflicts, especially in the global South. Some churches have been abandoned or moved to new locations because of violent confrontations, or moved following the groundswell of refugees. The armed conflicts in the Philippines between the New People’s Army (the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines) and the Philippine government as well as between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government forces have placed churches in the midst of violence. In some instances, congregations have been caught in the crossfire. This was the terrible fate of the members of a United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) congregation in Rano, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. On a fateful Sunday in 1987, church members (mostly of the indigenous Bagobo tribe) gathered in the parsonage after they heard gunshots. A paramilitary group took cover near the parsonage from the approaching group of New People’s Army. After the exchange of gunshots, around 50 UCCP members were killed, including women and children.

Many churches have been torn apart or divided because of violent conflicts. This is not because churches have become more courageous in their commitment to justice and peace–though some are–but because their identities have been tied to certain ethnic groups. With church members identified among opposing groups, whether along ideological or ethnic lines, the unity of the church has been seriously threatened. The unity of churches in Fiji, for example, has been seriously threatened by the relationship between native Fijians and Indo-Fijians, especially in the aftermath of the 1987 military coup d’etat. The United Methodist Church, which accounted for 90 percent of all Christians in Fiji and whose membership are mostly indigenous Fijians, was deeply divided, with most Methodists supporting the military quo.[xii]

The involvement of the church in the Rwandan tragedy, whether by commission or omission, has not been widely circulated. Investigations by African Rights in London give evidence that some local Catholic, Anglican, and Baptist church leaders were implicated in the killings. One of the most egregious examples of church complicity is that of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, who was part of the circle of the hard-line fanatical anti-Tutsi clique around Habyarimana. His death, along with two other bishops and the vicar-general of Kabgayi diocese, at the hands of RPF soldiers, brought his role into sharp focus. A fair assessment of the complicity of the church, however, must be done within the context of a deeply divided church, “split by different views of the demands of simple justice and by ethnicity and regionalism. Put simply, the church and its clergy, both missionary and indigenous, were far from neutral in their sympathies.”[xiii]There were those who remained silent, but it was nevertheless complicity; for it was silence masquerading as prudence.

Another case of the church’s complicity in the ethnic strife is the war in the Balkan region. The Croatian Catholic Church and Serbian Orthodox Church were both complicit in the ethnic killings. Both remained silent, neither acknowledging the genocide nor seeking forgiveness. Obsessed with racial purity, during the last world war the Croatian fascist state murdered 600,000 mostly Serbs, but also Jews, gypsies, and others who were classified as racial inferior or as political criminals. The name Jasenovac, the largest Croatian concentration camp, is as infamous for the Serbs as is Auschwitz for the Jews.[xiv] Serbs remember this genocide in deeply held memories. When the tide later turned in their favor, Serbians launched a campaign of genocide to avenge their ancestors killed in Jasenovac. Living with the wound that time never healed, they became ruthless butchers of their perceived enemies in a heinous project popularly called “ethnic cleansing.”

In the U.S., the pre-emptive war against Iraq has been contentious and divisive. While it is not a surprise that most conservative churches readily supported the war, many mainline churches easily found justification for supporting it. This support seems to be based on the unquestioned assumption of the compatibility between God and country (a clear symbol is the presence of U.S. flag standing next to the cross in the sanctuary).  Some churches even wanted to put a flagpole as a sign of patriotism, which other members vehemently opposed. As one person at church meeting in Ohio put it, “You’ve got to remember: we are Christians, but we’re Americans first.” Let us put it the test, challenges Wink, “which would cause the greater outcry, removing the American flag from your church sanctuary or removing the cross?”[xv] In addition, “God bless America” bumper stickers proliferated everywhere along with “Support Our Troops.” Meanwhile, other important issues have taken a backseat as debates regarding the war and homeland security have moved front and center.

When Will We Learn the Ways of Peace? Jesus and the Coming Reign of Peace

We have progressed in technological sophistication and economic wealth (though with widening disparity), but we are lagging behind in learning the ways of peace. In fact, we have advanced our sophistication in justifying various forms of violence, for war is now waged in the name of peace. It may be possible through sophisticated technology and military power to track down international terrorists, but they are not going to be totally deterred. If this were true, Israel would be the safest and most secure nation today. The social elites may create “fortress communities” to insulate themselves from the outside world, but they will soon realize (if they have not already done so) that they are not completely invulnerable. They may be wired to the global market through the cyberspace, but they do not know their local neighbors. Terrorists are aware of this vulnerability. A peace that has walls in our highly globalized world is no peace at all. We seem not to understand, or we refuse to understand, that lasting security can only be secured through just peace and not by war—even just war.  Why do we not get it?

A story of an elderly man and some young boys comes to my mind. An elderly man saw some six and seven-year-old children at play, and asked, “What are you playing?” “War,” responded the kids. “Why don’t you play peace instead?” said the elderly man. The children stopped, huddled together and discussed something among themselves. Then they looked puzzled and finally ran out of words. One of them asked, “Grandpa, how do we play peace? We don’t know the game.”[xvi]

Sad, really sad. Our modern society has taught us more about playing war than about playing peace. “How can we be so stupid as to play war when we know how horrible war is”, the elderly man said to himself.[xvii] The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche confirms what the elderly man is saying: “The quest for power makes [one] cunning, the possession of power makes [one] stupid.”[xviii] Power intoxicates, finally possessing its possessor. With power possessing, the power possessed losses sight of what promotes life, and finally ends in self-destruction.

I am reminded of Jesus who wept over Jerusalem, saying: “If you only knew today what is needed for peace!” (Luke19:42). When will we learn the ways of peace and true security? When will we know by heart the things that make for peace? When will we understand and gain the courage to address the roots of terrorism and counter-terrorism?

Central to Jesus’ life and ministry is his proclamation of the coming reign of God, which is the reign of peace, the reign of shalom (Romans 14:17). Jesus embodied in his life and ministry the vision of the peaceable kingdom. What is the foundation of the reign of peace that Jesus embodied in his life and ministry? I say that the foundation of this shalom is right relation: right relation with God, neighbors, and the whole created world. When right relation exists, shalom reigns and peace prevails in the land (Isaiah 32:17; James 3:18). The Decalogue, which Jesus summed up in two (loving God and loving the neighbor), crystallizes the message of right relation: right relation with God and right relation with neighbors, both near and far. Just relation is the foundation for peace and security. Justice or righteousness is the foundation of cosmic harmony and order. YHWH (God) created the world according to sedaqâ (righteousness). “When sedaqâ prevails,” notes Douglas Knight, the world is at harmony, in a state of well-being, in salôm. An act of sin in the religious sphere or injustice in the social sphere can inject discord and shatter salôm. It then takes a decisive act of mispat, ‘justice’ to restore the salôm and reestablish the sedaqâ.[xix]

“Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness), runs the State motto of Hawai’i. Without pono (justice or righteousness, balance, right relation), there is no peace and harmony in the land (aina). Only the practice of just relation and the righting of wrongs can restore harmony and bring security. Harmony exists when there is justice or righteousness and mutuality (balanced relation) among created beings. Only just or right relation can stop the curse of the vicious cycle of violence and disharmony.

The Church: Followers of the Way of Peace

The angels announced Jesus’ birth as the reign of peace on earth (Luke 2: 14).  This reign of peace, not the Pax Romana, is the peace of the reign of God that is seeking to actualize itself in history. It is not the peace of the sepulcher. The peace that Jesus proclaimed and witnessed (Pax Christi) is not something that simply meant the absence of war or a space marked out within the Roman peace, but of a different origin: It did not come from the world of domination and subjection. The gospel of John says: “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you” (John 14:27). Jesus, the “Lord of peace”  (Ephesians 2:14-17), is the giver of peace. His Spirit is a Spirit of peace and his gospel is the good news of peace (Ephesians 6;15). Jesus, the Lord of peace, has broken down the dividing wall of hostilities (Ephesians 2:14).

Not surprisingly, the followers of Jesus (the Jesus movement) identified themselves as the followers of the way of peace. They were called peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) or sons and daughters of peace. Peacemakers became a mark of their new self-identity. “Peace be to this house,” was a common greeting practiced by the followers of the way of peace. In accord with their new identity, the followers of Jesus were “mandated” to be peacemakers. Jesus’ gift of peace is not just something to be received and appreciated; it is a new mandate (novum mandatum) to work for peace.

The contemporary church, says Walter Brueggemann, “is mandated not just to do good things, but to perceive the world differently, to know that the wave of the future is not in putting people down, but in raising them up.”[xx] The word mandate is not very appealing to many. Yet, Jesus’ gift of peace is a new mandate (novum mandatum) to work for peace. This mandate or imperative is more than an external command; it is a mandate arising out of who we are or out of our very identity. We are capable of carrying out this mandate because we have experienced transformation in our lives. In other words, this mandate is a call to manifest what is deeply true to ourselves as followers of Jesus, the Lord of peace. Following Jesus is not simply following a commandment but becoming like him–becoming Christlike. Accepting the new mandate is bearing the message of peace and becoming Christlike: It is, as Sallie McFague reminds us, christomorphic.[xxi]

Following the way of peace cost the followers of Jesus so much. They suffered marginalization and persecution under the peace and order imposed by the Roman Empire. They refused to be silent under the imposed peace of the empire; hence, they were considered enemies. In its long history and with changing fortunes, the church has not always been faithful to its identity and mandate. Colonized by the surrounding culture, many of its brightest theologians have concentrated their energies justifying war rather than working for peace. Yet, with the empowering work of the spirit, the church has not been left without faithful followers of the Lord of peace in all times and places.

Church: Exorcist of the Idols of False Security

“If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” the fear for our security is the beginning of idolatry. Idolatry strikes so deep because it addresses our need for security. Fearful for our security, we cling on to mundane goods, such as wealth and military force, to secure ourselves, and we give them the status of eternal securers–idols. But they are measures that do not lead to security and, in fact, continue to undermine security. False security is what idols provide. Idols offer not lasting security but only duct-tape securities. Yet, when individuals and communities are controlled by idols, they fail to discern false securities. The idols’ control may arrive at a point when people “live a lie.”[xxii] The lying may become so deep that an individual or a community believes its own lie.

Idolatry operates on deception, so it is very much invested on the discourse of “truth.” In the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) old headquarters building a New Testament passage is prominently displayed: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). I do not know what kind of “truth” the CIA is talking about. What I do know about CIA, though, is that it is more invested in “concealing truth” and “manufacturing truth” than in knowing and revealing truth.[xxiii] If, as Thomas Friedman says, “the market will never work without a hidden fist,” it is equally true that the hidden fist will not work effectively without the cunning of “truth manufacturers.”[xxiv]

In all major wars, the first casualty is “truth.” “Experts” are called upon to “create” (manufacture) truth to support war, and people are asked to trust in the power of armaments to restore peace and security. Before the guns are fired, the first battle is the battle for “truth.” The first confrontation does not happen in the battlefield, but in the media: television, newspapers, radio, etc. The citizens must be convinced that war must be waged at all cost for the security of their lives, resources, and way of life.

God has not escaped from becoming instrument of idolatrous powers. In fact, God has become a convenient tool. Many wars have been waged in the name of God. If “truth” is the first casualty in war, the first to be enlisted is not Private Ryan (Hollywood’s movie “Saving Private Ryan”), but God. God the almighty must be enlisted to crush the enemy and secure victory. God the truth must also be enlisted to expose the falsehood of the other. And this God must be on our side, not on that of the enemy. In this way, the universal God is transformed into a tribal God, a God identified with a nation and a protector of its interest. In times of war, nations do not have qualms identifying and enlisting God on their side.

When nations enlist God on their side, this means that the God of one is the devil of the other. Then a hopeless battle for life and death ensues and the coordinates of good and evil disappear. Everything becomes possible. In this regard, Fyodor Dostoevsky is wrong (or, just partly right) in saying that when there is no God everything is possible. On the contrary, everything is possible because of God. War, genocide, terrorism, and suicide bombings are possible in the name of God. Indeed, everything is possible because of God. The song, “nothing is impossible when you trust in God” gets a negative twist: to support heinous acts in God’s name.[xxv]

Likewise, peace has not escaped from being used as instrument of idolatry. Peace, like God, has become a unifying myth of our time. If wars are waged in the name of God, so wars are also waged in the name of peace. Waging wars in the name of peace has become a convenient justification for wars of our time. Invasions are now identified as missions to establish global peace, justice, and security. Invasions are now called “Operation Just Cause” or for the purpose of liberating a country (“Liberate Iraq”). The response of the citizens of the “land of the free and home of the brave” following September 11, 2001 terrorist attack is an example of idolatrous nationalism. Terrified, the citizens of the “home of the brave” grasped anything that could restore their threatened security. The event of September 11 left the church in the U.S. shocked and disoriented, and its capacity to transcend the messy situation was compromised. Lacking both in substantive liturgical habits and theological grounding, congregations easily caved-in to the pressures of the moment. Experiencing a terrible pain, they reached for a reassuring symbol, the American flag, instead of a chalice or a Bible.[xxvi]

The church and the whole country have been disoriented by the idols of false security and death. “The darkness around us is deep,” says poet William Stafford.[xxvii] We parade like elephants holding each other tail, but if one wanders the circus would not find the park. “I call it cruel, and maybe the root of all cruelty,” he continues, “to know what occurs but not recognize the fact….the darkness around us is deep.”

Yes, the “darkness around us is deep” and it is getting deeper and deeper. Therefore, Stafford makes the challenge, “[i]t is important that awake people be awake,… the signal that we give–yes or no, or maybe–should be clear.” [xxviii] Even our naming of the “gray” areas must be clear, for the darkness around us is deep. Our signal must be clear, lest the circus or our mutual parade would not even find the park, much less to follow the right God home; for “the darkness around us is deep.” We must be awake and exorcise the idolatrous nationalism that has engulfed the land. Let us exorcise this idolatrous nationalism by exposing its claim to the blistering critique of light. We must let our lights shine brightly in the midst of darkness. Muhammad Iqbal’s lines are for us to ponder: “Thou didst create the night, but I made the lamp. Thou didst create clay, but I made the cup. Thou didst create the deserts, mountains and forests, I produced the orchards, gardens and groves. It is I who made the glass out of stone, and it is I who turn a poison into an antidote.”[xxix] The point is clear: God gave us the ability to turn the dark spots in our lives and society into light. So we must let our lights shine wherever we are.

The Church: A Community of Wall-Busters and Bridge-Builders

The evangelists of globalization proclaim in tantalizing ways the message of global village. While they like to speak of capital without borders, they do not really speak about hearts without borders. On the contrary their hearts are walling, and this inside walling is finding expression in the building of physical walls separating the winners and the losers. The winners have constructed “fortress communities” to insulate themselves from the losers. But, unless they are not aware of it, the fortress is not going to give them complete peace and security.

It is ironic that when people become imperialistic, their hearts actually shrink. Wanting to have more and fearing for their security, their hearts constrict and construct walls of fear, walls of division, and walls of exclusion. They fail to realize that as they wall others out, they are also walling themselves in. They are imprisoned by narrow and self-serving nationalism. Some time in 1816, Stephen Decatur proposed the ultimate toast to narrow nationalism: “Our country right or wrong!”[xxx]

The new global person with a heart as large as the world and with an alternative understanding of patriotism refutes Decatur’s sentiment by emending it. Speaking against the extension of “Manifest Destiny” into the Philippines in 1899, Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri said, “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.”[xxxi] The new global persons with a heart as large as the world are not imprisoned by narrow nationalism. They know, to paraphrase Albert Camus, that it is not a contradiction to love one’s country and still love global justice.[xxxii]  In fact, I say that the only way to love one’s country is to love global justice.

An embodiment of a global heart seeking to overcome narrow self-interest is found in the story of Mazen Julani and his wife and their three children. Mazen Julani (a 32-year-old Palestinian pharmacist) and his family lived in the Arab part of Jerusalem. One day, when he was with his friends, he was fatally shot by a Jewish colonist–an expression of revenge by an Israeli for an attack that day by a group of Palestinians. He was immediately taken to an Israeli hospital but did not survive. The Julani clan decided on the spot to donate his organs as transplants to those who needed them. This is how it came to be that in the breast of Ygal Cohen now beats a Palestinian heart.

Mazen’s wife, whose name was not mentioned in the story, did not know how to explain to her 4-year-old daughter that her father had died. So she told her that her Daddy had gone on a trip and that on his way back, he was going to bring her a beautiful gift. To those around her, she whispered in tears:

In a little while now my children and I will visit Ygal Cohen in the Israeli section of Jerusalem because there lives the heart of my husband, the father of my children. And we will listen to the palpitations of his heart. And that will be for us a great consolation.[xxxiii]

Another story of hospitable hearts and wall-busting happened during the First World War. Soon after the devastation of the First World War, Quakers responded to the need of the impoverished people of Poland by distributing food and clothing. As the story goes, one relief worker contacted typhus and died within twenty-four hours. There were no other cemeteries, except that of Roman Catholics, and canonical law forbade burying anyone not of that religious confession in consecrated ground. So the deceased worker was buried in a grave just outside the wall of the cemetery. But during the night the villagers did something: They moved the fence of the cemetery to include the grave.[xxxiv] This was a serious transgression of canonical law; nevertheless, the villagers decided to betray the law of exclusion even if it probably meant going to hell.

Being willing to go to hell for the sake of busting walls of division and creating hospitable communities was what Huck Finn did with his friend Jim, a runaway black slave. Raised in a culture that preached that helping a runaway slave was equivalent to spitting in the eye of God, Huck was faced with a difficult choice: betraying his friend Jim or suffering eternal damnation in hell. In what is arguably one the greatest lines in Western literature, Huck decided: “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”[xxxv]

What do fence movers and wall busters do? They are willing to go to hell for the sake of busting the walls of societal division and the predatory laws of the global capitalist market. Fence movers and wall busters dare to dream, dare to hope, dare to struggle to break idolatrous fences of divisions and dare to forge more just, inclusive and sustainable communities, both locally and globally. They are boundary crossers in the good sense, overcoming fences of various kinds. Fence movers and wall busters are the new human communities whose hearts are as wide and as large as the world. The church, a community of followers of the Lord of peace, is called to the task of breaking down walls of fear, division, and hostilities.

Church: A Community that Practices Forgiveness

How can we break the cycle of violence whose roots are deep? Is it really possible to circumvent the vicious history of violence? How can we circumvent history?

Deep within the Christian tradition–though not its monopoly–is the notion of forgiveness and related notions of repentance and reconciliation. But, is forgiveness really powerful enough to circumvent deeply rooted animosities, more particularly between social groups and nations? Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian who is known for his engagement in politics, answers this question with a big no. When Christians talk about love and forgiveness in a political setting, says Niebuhr, “they are likely to become sentimentalists, expecting too much of ordinary self-interested human beings.”[xxxvi]

My engagement in the topic of forgiveness has not been long. It has not been my favorite topic. My interest has been in social justice and, as one who sees our societal predicament at the systemic level, in social transformation. However, as I have continued to explore the relationship between forgiveness and social transformation, I have realized that my dream of a new tomorrow is not really possible apart from forgiveness. In fact, it is a contradiction to speak of a new tomorrow–a tomorrow that seeks the well-being of all–without forgiveness. In other words, there is no new tomorrow without forgiveness; for without forgiveness, no space has been created for commencing the journey toward a new and better tomorrow. Without forgiveness, the dreamed-for tomorrow is likely to devour its own children.

It is not only that forgiveness is tied to the notion of a new and better tomorrow: forgiveness is critical to the life of movements for transformation. Movements for social transformation, historical instruments for the eradication of the social expressions of sin, are necessary and good, but they are still the works of human beings; thus they are liable to human sinfulness. Forgiveness, as “gratuitous love,” says Jon Sobrino, “is an important way of remaining true to what is at the origin of liberation movements: love, not vengeance or mere retaliation; keeping true to the purpose of liberation, which is a just and loving society for all.”[xxxvii] As J. I. Gonzales Faus puts it, we must “make revolution as people who have been forgiven” and, with Sobrino’s reminder,  “that we carry liberating love in vessels of clay.” This view can help cure “any tendency to authoritarianism, dogmatism, or power mania” that may be present in liberation movements.[xxxviii]

Forgiveness is not a one-time event but a process. It does not neglect justice but embraces it by taking seriously both the violation and the prospect of healing. It is a multi-dimensional process. It can be compared, says Shriver, to “a twisted four-strand cable, which over time intertwines with the enemy’s responses to form the double bond of new politics. No one element in this cable carries the weight of the action; each assumes and depends upon others.”[xxxix] As a multi-dimensional human action, it can start at various locations. Moreover, any process to forgiveness must take seriously the context. Approaches vary in response to the context.

The growing literature on forgiveness presents complex and various approaches in relation to individual and societal forgiveness. While individual and social forgiveness are related, they are distinct and their relationship is asymmetrical, for the reason that society is not merely the sum of all individuals. It is possible to achieve individual forgiveness when social forgiveness is not yet present. However, although it is impossible to imagine social forgiveness without a good amount of individual  forgiveness, social forgiveness is not simply the sum of individual forgiveness.

These four elements are normally present in the literature on forgiveness: (1) open naming of the wrong, (2) forbearance or drawing back from revenge-in-kind, (3) empathy, (4) extending a tentative hand toward renewed community still in the future.[xl] I consolidate these elements around three concepts: (1) prophetic memory, (2) intersubjective empathy, and (3) creative imagination.[xli] These three concepts suggest temporality or modality of time: past, present, and future respectively. While they are presented in this sequence, the interaction of memory, empathy, and imagination is not linear. This way of framing, I believe, captures the complexity of the matter and the direction in which it needs to move. Open naming of wrong or truth-telling falls under the category of prophetic memory, the notion of forbearance under the category of empathy, and the new future under the category of creative social imagination.

These three must be woven together for the process of forgiveness to be complete. The absence of one leads to a distorted understanding of forgiveness. Forgiveness without memory is hollow; memory without empathy is cruel; empathy without imagination can lead to the imprisoning of a relationship within its past or present manifestation; imagination without empathy can lead to failure to take account of one’s social relatedness.[xlii] Empathy and imagination both lead to a different and liberating retrieval of memory. Forgiveness is our way to move forward. Forgiveness prevents us from becoming what we hate (the paradox of opposites). In other words, it offers hope for the birthing of a peaceful world.

A story from Sarajevo, in Eastern Europe, gives us a courageous account of forgiveness and, consequently, of hope. Zlatko Dizdarevic’s Sarajevo: A War Journal tells a story of a three-year-old girl who was hit by a sniper’s bullet while playing outside her home. Without delay, her horrified father brought her, bleeding and hovering between life and death, to the hospital. It was only after her father, “a big hulk of a man,” as Dizdarevic described him, found a doctor to care for her did he allow himself to burst into tears and give words to his wounded heart. Two of his sentences, says Dizdarevic, will linger long past after the event: “The first comes when the stricken father invites the unknown assassin to have a cup of coffee with him so that he [the assassin] can tell him, like a human being, what has brought him to do such a thing. Then he says, aware that this question may not elicit any human response: `One day her tears will catch up with him…'” After sharing this painful story, the outraged Dizdarevic says, “If the most barbaric act imaginable in this war, a sniper shooting at a three-year-old girl playing in front of her own home, elicits only an invitation to a cup of coffee and hope for forgiveness, then Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t stand much chance to survive.”[xliii]

Miroslav Volf offers a different reading of the tragic event. While Dizdarevic sees the man’s invitation to the assassin to have a cup of coffee as the act of a sentimental fool, Volf sees a ray of hope. He is not about to suggest that we blur the line between the executed and the executioner, or to let the executioner continue the dastardly act. But he wants to suggest that the hope for Bosnia and, certainly, for the whole world tyrannized by the evil of exclusion, lies in men and women who, though they have suffered so much and have not forgotten their suffering, still gather enough courage to invite the perpetrator to a cup of coffee and inquire of him what has “brought him to do such a thing.” While it is true that the “rifle butt in the back…shatters civilization…” (Dizdarevic’s words) and creates inhumanity, the “rifle butt in the back” of the avenger does not restore civilization and humanity either. For Volf, the hope for Bosnia and the hope for the world, lie with men and women who have not allowed the “rifle butt” to colonize their souls and their social imagination. They are the men and women “who, despite enduring humiliation and suffering, have not given up on the will to embrace the enemy.”[xliv]

Church: Community of Mediators and Reconcilers

I gave a distinct space for forgiveness because it is a central Christian concept, but it should not be confused with reconciliation. I see reconciliation in a much broader sense that includes the element of forgiveness and also of repentance.[xlv] John Paul Lederach narrates a conversation his colleague at Eastern Mennonite University had in one of their constituent congregations.  The congregation asked: “When will the Mennonite Church and its academic centers stop fussing so much about peace and justice issues and get on with the gospel?” Right on target, Lederach’s answer was, “reconciliation is the gospel.”[xlvi]  The gospel is that God was in Christ reconciling the world. As God was in Christ reconciling the world, likewise, the followers of Christ are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. The church is an “ambassador for Christ” entrusted with the mission of witnessing and spreading the message of reconciliation to all people around the world (2 Corinthians 5: 17-20). Not only is reconciliation at the heart of the Christian gospel, it is also crucial and urgent for our current context.

While many are calling for reconciliation, they may not be in agreement on what it means. Many dictators around world have made appeals for reconciliation. The leadership of apartheid South Africa often made appeals for reconciliation, calling for black South Africans to live peacefully together. Black South Africans greeted the exhortation with a mixture of anger and hilarity, for they know that reconciliation among people is only possible when certain fundamental conditions are met.[xlvii]Fundamental to reconciliation is the recognition of the harm done and it must satisfy the demands of justice or right relation. Reconciliation does not replace justice; rather, reconciliation is predicated on justice. Without justice, there is no reconciliation of peoples; without reconciliation, there is no peace and harmony.

While it is true that reconciliation is predicated on justice, we need to act beyond justice (narrowly understood as retribution) for the process of reconciliation to take place in history. When the violation is deep, no call for the implementation of retributive justice can totally restore what has been destroyed or violated. “To believe that a simple reestablishment of the order that has been violated will right the situation,” says Raimon Panikkar, “is a crudely mechanistic, immature way of thinking. Lost innocence calls for a new innocence, and not a retreat to a paradise of dreams. No manner of compensation can undo what is already done. Peace is not restoration…The very cosmos, while it moves rhythmically, does so without repeating itself. The status ante is an impossibility.”[xlviii] The only way to move in the direction of peace is to move forward. Peace is not restoration or maintenance of the status quo but, continues Panikkar, “our emancipation from this status quo and its transformation into a fluxus quo, toward an ever-new cosmic harmony.”[xlix]

The only hopeful move is to move forward, but the actual journey toward reconciliation and peace is a difficult one, sometimes involving more backward than forward steps.  Nonetheless, steps must be taken, and we can learn from those who have taken the journey. Lederach is one who has taken that journey.  I cannot give justice to his thoughts in space available here, but I am going to share his framework because it is useful in understanding the broad and complex dynamics of reconciliation process.

I see Lederach’s account as deeply theological and very practical.  His theological rendering makes practical sense, and his practical account makes theological sense. He uses familial images to talk about the foundational theological and moral concepts of truth, mercy, justice, and peace and relates them to a historical timeframe: truth=past, justice=present, and mercy=future. Peace is both the mother and the child. Peace is the mother because it requires peace (negotiated peace) for reconciliation process to start, but peace is also the fruit (child). There is, however, no peace without mercy, truth and justice. Each of these concepts must have integrity in the process of reconciliation for peace to emerge. One cannot be sacrificed for the sake of another. Since this process does not happen in a vacuum, but in a particular space and time, attentiveness to the context and timing are crucial. One cannot simply follow linear sequencing (past=truth, present=justice, future=mercy and, in addition, hope), when the people clamor for a different starting point. Thus, instead of a linear and monochronic approach to time, Lederach suggests that we adopt a polychronic approach.  This polychromic approach involves two essential elements: “multiplicity of activities and simultaneity of actions. This requires,” Lederach notes, “a systemic rather than a linear perspective on people, relationships, activities, and context.”[l]

The Church as a Participant in Creating a Culture of Peace

It is easy to spend all our resources and energies just putting out the fires of violent conflicts everywhere. But violent conflicts have deeper causes that need to be addressed. We need to be more proactive in creating cultures of peace. The notion of “conflict transformation” offers a more comprehensive way of understanding and dealing with conflicts. It includes conflict management, conflict resolution, and structural reform.[li] The purpose of conflict management is to find ways of preventing the conflict from becoming more violent or from expanding into other areas, while conflict resolution means the removal, to the extent possible, of the inequalities between the disputants through mediation, negotiation, or some other means. Structural reform, on the other hand, seeks to address the roots of the conflict and to create atmosphere and institutions conducive to peaceful relations.

The church has been and must be involved in the various dimensions of peacemaking. The church’s impact in conflict management and conflict resolution has been significant, but it is short term. It is at the level of structural reform that the church can play a very significant role and with long-term impact. This is a dimension where the church can contribute much, especially with its rich theological resources and intentional communities. Creating a “culture of peace” belongs to this dimension. Such a culture creates and nurtures worldviews, values, and behavior that promote peaceable diversity of all living beings and mutual caring and equitable sharing of resources that sustain life. 

The creation of a culture of peace requires intentional effort, especially now that the culture of war and violence has become pervasive. It requires what Panikkar calls “cultural disarmament.” By cultural disarmament, he means the abandonment of the trenches in which modern culture has dug in, such as its vested and nonnegotiable notion and value of progress, techno-science, democracy and the world market. Moreover, it means a change in the predominant myth of modern humanity—of that part of humanity that he names as the “most vociferous, influential, and wealthy, and is in control of the destinies of politics.” Panikkar calls for the abandonment of the myth of linear progress or development, even subjecting to criticism the common notion of “sustainable development.”[lii]

The work of cultural disarmament in order to create a culture of peace requires the building of a counter-mentality, which operates at the level of mythos. This counter-mentality, as James and Kathleen McGinnis advocate in Parenting for Peace and Justice, is an interdependent mentality that must begin at an early stage of a person’s life. Some of the themes that are part of interdependence that must be introduced to children of all ages, say the McGinnises are: “becoming comfortable with differences; developing a sense of oneness; understanding the system or structures that influence people; and developing a sense of responsibility for strengthening ties among people.”[liii] Instead of the usual narrow nationalist pledge that children learn at school, the McGinnises endorse the World Pledge:

I pledge allegiance to the World
To cherish every living thing,
To care for earth and sea and air,
With peace and freedom everywhere! [liv]

Also part of the continuing work of cultural disarmament is by rereading and rewriting history through the hermeneutic lens of peace. [lv] The culture of everyday life is largely peaceful, but the culture of historical record is overwhelmingly about a warrior society. Historical record revolves around stories of battles won and lost, of nations and states conquered or engaged in conquest. Violence, destruction, and sexual misconduct of top officials easily become news headlines, and they sell. On the other hand, wholesome community events and creative efforts for peace, unless done by top officials for political purposes, do not get as much media coverage.

The church must play an active role in rereading and rewriting history to highlight peacemaking activities.  This includes chronicling the lives of peace heroes, a practice that helps subvert the dominant notion that heroes are only those who have fought and died in wars to protect one’s country. Since many peacemaking activities have come through the creative intervention of the church, synagogue, and mosque, it is very important that religious institutions consider it as part of its mission to write a history of various acts of peacemaking. This provides an occasion to counterbalance the historical emphasis on holy wars, such as the Crusades of the Middle Ages.[lvi]

The task of cultural disarmament cannot be done mono-culturally. It must be done in companionship with others; it must be from the very beginning an ecumenical enterprise. We must do this on both epistemological and political grounds. On epistemological ground, we always view social reality from a certain location; thus, our understanding of our selves and our world is limited. We are not fully aware of our own myths. It is only through the help of other people and cultures that we can begin to recognize our own myths. But, for this to happen, we must “see our neighbor not only as something else, but as alius/alia, someone else–not only as an object of observation or cognition, but as another source of intelligibility, and an independent subject of our categories.”[lvii] Beyond the epistemological benefit, we need the companionship of others so that we can unify our strength to address the complex and enormous challenge before us. Through ecumenical cooperation in services, advocacy, educational programs, organization and mobilization, and building alternative communities, the church can contribute to the creation of a culture of peace. Through many of its intentional communities, the church can present models that give people a foretaste of what it means to live in a peaceful community.

Church: An Empowered Community of Peacebuilders

While it is true, as an old saying goes, that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” it is also true that powerlessness corrupts and can be corrupted absolutely. When people feel powerless, they can easily submit to cynicism and to any corrupt power. Michael Lerner even makes the point that the problem is not so much the absence of power, but what he calls “surplus powerlessness.”[lviii]  When people feel that they are powerless, they become even more powerless than they really are. The members of the Body of Christ are not an exemption. In many peace advocacy works, such as writing letters to the U.S. Congress, it is not uncommon to hear church members say, “It is not going to make difference.” A way to counter cynicism, powerlessness, and hopelessness is people’s empowerment. When people realize that they are not powerless and that they have a different form of power (not military arsenals and huge budgets), they are empowered to act on their deepest convictions and hope. The church can perform its mission of peacebuilding only when it is empowered to do so.

Empowering the peacebuilding mission of a congregation through education is an obvious way to start.  Education is surely an endless task, and it requires more than what people normally receive from Sunday School. In addition to providing theological grounding for peace, a congregation’s peacebuilding education program needs to include the learning of social analytical tools. These are critical tools for understanding a conflictive situation beyond its symptoms. These tools are helpful in understanding the context as a whole as well as understanding the particular factors and players, power dynamics, what connects and divides, and the local capacity. They also help people see the connections of the many expressions of violence, such as structural violence and secondary form of violence. In addition to social analytical tools, the members of the congregation (though at different levels) need to have a basic knowledge of the many approaches or the nexus of peacebuilding approaches. This includes: (1) waging conflict non-violently: monitoring and advocacy, direct action, civilian-based defense;  (2) reducing direct violence: legal and justice systems, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, military intervention, cease-fire agreements, peace zones, early warning programs; (3) transforming relationships: trauma healing, conflict transformation, restorative justice, transitional justice, governance and policymaking; (4) building capacity: training and education, development, military conversion, research and evaluation. Furthermore, members of a peace-church need to develop skills in dealing with conflicts in non-violent ways, skills in reducing direct violence, skills in transforming relationships (e.g., conflict transformation, trauma healing, principled negotiation, mediation, and restorative justice, etc.), skills in capacity building and relational skills (skills in self-reflection, active listening, diplomatic and assertive speaking, appreciative inquiry, creative-problem solving, dialogue, negotiation, and mediation).[lix]

Knowledge and skills become knowledge and skills only when they are integrated into the whole life of the congregation and only in the wakefulness of daily living and organized action.[lx] The whole ethos of church life must cultivate a peace identity, a peaceful life, and peacebuilding skills. Peace must be incorporated into the worship life of the church and all liturgical celebrations. Major holidays, such as Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the Christmas season need to be transformed from occasions for narrow nationalism, destructive militarism and devouring consumerism into occasions for the building of a peaceful and sustainable world.  Sermons, prayer, confessions and the choice of hymns must be critiqued in light of their contribution to a peaceful life. What happens in the worship life must find support and reinforcement in other church activities, such as network building and advocacy. Moreover, the church must be a resource and a support for members and the wider community in living out the gospel of peace.

Church: Nurturer of a Peaceful Heart

Thich Nhat Hanh narrates a story about a walk for peace that he participated in New York. Because his group was slow in walking, the groups behind started to walk past them with impatience. “Many people like to participate in walks for peace,” says Thich Nhat Hanh, but “there is no walk for peace; peace must be the walk.…The practice is simply to embody peace during the walk. The means are the ends.”[lxi] In our hurry to arrive at something better—peace, we do violence to that which we aspire toward, and we do violence to ourselves and to all those whom we encounter in our journey. We become ungrateful to those who have graced our lives, and we become unsatisfied with small accomplishments. In our hurry to something better, everything we desire falls for our hands and, ultimately, we fail to notice God. 

If we are concerned about peace, we must embody peace in our lives; we must nurture as individuals and as communities a peaceful heart; we must cultivate a spirituality of peace. A peaceful heart is simple (not simplistic) in the sense of being undivided. It is not carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns. The frenzy of activism, as Thomas Merton reminds us, “neutralizes [our] work for peace. It destroys [our] own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of [our] own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”[lxii] Cultivating our own spirituality of peace is crucial for the peace of the wider society; it is not only for the self. A peaceful heart will always have bearings on the outside world. If most people first learn the culture of violence at home, then there is enough reason why we should start learning peace at home and in our very own selves. There is violence around us and we do not have full control of our surroundings, but we can choose how to respond. We can choose peace only if we have practiced the spirituality of peace. In choosing peace in the midst of violence we are creating that space that will become our entry point in breaking the cycle of violence.    

A prayer by Kate Compton speaks of this need for nurturing a peaceful heart. It calls us to attune our day-to-day lives and our larger struggles to a culture and spirituality of peace.

O God, we pray for—
new awareness of the battlefield within us
new ways of challenging aggressive instincts
new thought-patterns, language and ideas
new appreciation for the world as one community
new methods of dialogue and negotiation
new attempts to befriend those different from ourselves
new readiness to forgive and reconcile,
new visions, new love, new hope…
and a new faith that the peace that passes understanding can reach out from within us to embrace the world.[lxiii]

Seeds of Peace, Seeds of Hope

I started with the escalation of violence in our globalized world, but that is not the end of the narrative. Individuals and communities have risen from the ashes of violence embodying and planting seeds of peace—seeds of hope. The historic peace churches have embodied an unwavering witness for peace in the midst of violence. Major church bodies have been at the forefront of peace building as well. Many small communities in war-torn places have defied the culture of violence by working for peace. There are many stories of individuals who have embodied the message of peace and even paid dearly for it.  The life of Isaac Saada, a teacher who was involved in peace education in Israel and Palestine, exemplifies what it means to embody peace. His own children asked him how he could possibly work with the Israelis after all that the Palestinians have been through for years. He responded: “We have to believe in peace and that peace would eventually come.” Pursuing this point further, he said: “The worst thing that could happen to them and to the Palestinian people would be if they filled their hearts with hatred.” Not long after saying these words, Isaac Saada died in a shelling that was meant for the so-called terrorist.[lxiv]

In that same war-torn region of the world another seed of hope is the work of Rapprochement Center at Beit Sahour in Palestine. This Rapprochement Center was organized in 1990 under the auspices of the Mennonite Central Committee. But the work started two years earlier when the community of Beit Sahour began inviting groups of Israelis to their town for discussions, worship, and meal-sharing for the purpose of breaking down the stereotypes between the two peoples. To make sure that the experience is positive, the community of Beit Sahour was organized to prevent violence when the visitors were present. There have been threats to the existence of the Rapprochement Center, such as harassment and killings by Israeli soldiers of Palestinians and suicide bombings by Palestinians, but the Rapprochement Center has continued as a testimony that there is another way besides violence.[lxv]

These are just few of the many stories of hope around the world. There is no easy promise of success, but seeds of peace and seeds of hope are sprouting everywhere. They are in the hearts of those who have not accepted the culture of violence as normal and inevitable; they are in the hearts of those who have mustered courage to walk the peace in a world tyrannized by violence; they are in the hearts of those who have dared to live the hope of peace in the present in acts of empathy and forgiveness; they are in the lives of those who have dared to teardown walls of fear and division; and they are in the hearts of those who have continued to believe and hope that peace is our future.

Eleazar Fernandez is Professor of Constructive Theology at United Seminary of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN), where he was appointed in 1993.  Eleazar has served on the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries Board of Directors and on the Common Global Ministries Board of the UCC and Disciples.  He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.  His most recent book is Reimagining the Human: Theological Anthropology in Response to Systemic Evil (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2004).

[i] Project Ploughshares, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Cited in Echoes: Justice, Peace and Creation News, 18/2000 (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 2000), 14.

[ii] Samuel Kobia, “Violence in Africa,” in Echoes: Justice, Peace and Creation News, 18/2000, 11.

[iii] A Moment to Choose: Risking To Be With Uprooted People: A Resource Book (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, Unit IV, Sharing and Service, Refugee and Migration Service, 1996), 23.

[iv] See Anne Llewellyn Barstow, ed., War’s Dirty Secret: Rape, Prostitution, and Other Crimes Against Women (Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2000), 93.

[v] Yash Tandon, “The Violence of Globalization,” in Echoes: Justice, Peace and Creation News, 18/2000, 26.

[vi] A Moment to Choose: Risking To Be With Uprooted People: A Resource Book, 36.

[vii] Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, “New Wars, Old Wineskin” in Jon Berquist, ed., Strike Terror No More: Theology, Ethics, and the New War (St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2002), 276.

[viii] A Moment to Choose: Risking To Be With Uprooted People, 25.

[ix] Kathleen and James McGinnis, Parenting for Peace and Justice (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1981), 47.

[x] Walter Wink, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, and Auckland: Galilee Doubleday, 1998), 49.

[xi] Usha Jesudasan, “Entertaining Violence,” in Echoes: Justice, Peace and Creation News, 18/2000, 29.

[xii] See Ralph R. Premdas, “The Church and Reconciliation in Ethnic Conflicts: The Case of Fiji,” in The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge to the Churches, ed., Gregory Baum and Harold Wells (WCC Publications), 79-95.

[xiii] Ian Linden, “The Church and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwandan Tragedy,” in The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge to the Churches, 50-51.

[xiv] Jim Forrest, “A Dialogue on Reconciliation in Belgrade: The Report of a Participant,” in  The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge to the Churches, 113.

[xv] Wink, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium, 59.

[xvi] Frank Mihalic, 1000 Stories You Can Use, Vol. 2 (Manila: Divine Word Publication, 1989, Manila), 58.

[xvii] Ibid. Modified from the story.

[xviii] Friedrich Nietzsche,  cited in Sidonie Smith and Julian Watson, De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), 210.

[xix] Douglas Knight, “Cosmogony and Order in the Hebrew Tradition,” in Cosmogony and Ethical Order: New Studies in Comparative Ethics, ed. R. Lovin and F. Reynolds (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1985), 149.

[xx] Walter Brueggemann, Peace (St. Louis, Missouri, Chalice Press, 2002), 146-147.

[xxi] Sallie McFague, Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 184-185.

[xxii] Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 110.

[xxiii]  See Lee Griffith, The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 239.

[xxiv] Thomas Friedman, New York Times, March 19, 1999, cited in Tari Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 260-261.

[xxv] Ulrich Duchrow and Franz Hinkelammert, Property for People, Not for Profit (Geneva, Switzerland: WCC Publications, 2004), 138.

[xxvi] William Willimon, “What September 11 taught me about preaching,” James Taylor, ed., In the Aftermath: What September 11 is Teaching Us About our World, our Faith, and Ourselves (British Columbia, Canada: Northstone, 2002), 106. Also, see Joretta Mashall, “When Listening Is Not Enough: Pastoral Theology and Care in Turbulent Times,” in Strike Terror No More: Theology, Ethics, and the New War, 170.

[xxvii] William Stafford, Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford, ed. and with introduction by Robert Bly (New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1993), pages, 135-136.

[xxviii] Ibid., 136.

[xxix] Cited in Joan Chittister, Listen with the Heart: Sacred Moments in Everyday Life (Lanham, Chicago, New York, Oxford: Sheed & Ward, 2003), 16.

[xxx] Cited from Forrest Church, “We Need More Patriots,” in UU Magazine, vol. xvii no. 1 (January/February 2003): 12.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Albert Camus, cited in Robert McAfee Brown, Saying Yes and Saying No: On Rendering to God and Caesar (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1986), 8.

[xxxiii] Cited in Leonardo Boff, “It is Dark, But I Sing!” in Witness Magazine, Accessed February 7, 2006.

[xxxiv] Douglas Steere, Mutual Irradiation (Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania: Sowers Printing Company, 1971), 7, cited in Donald Messer, Conspiracy of Goodness: Contemporary Images of Christian Mission (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1992), 127.

[xxxv] Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (New York: Washington Square Press, 1950), 273.

[xxxvi] Donald Shriver, Jr., An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 7.

[xxxvii] Jon Sobrino, The Principle of Mercy: Taking the Crucified People from the Cross (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1994), 66.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Shriver, An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics, 9.

[xl] Donald Shriver, Jr., “Is There Forgiveness in Politics? Germany, Vietnam, and America,” in Robert Enright and Joanna North, eds., Exploring Forgiveness (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 131-149.

[xli] See Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, The Fall to Violence: Original Sin in Relational Theology (New York, Continuum, 1995).

[xlii] Ibid., 41.

[xliii] Miroslav Volf, “A Theology of Embrace for a World of Exclusion,” in Explorations in Reconciliation: New Directions in Theology, ed. David Tombs and Joseph Liechty (England and Vermont, U.S.A.: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2006), 30-31.

[xliv] Ibid., 31.

[xlv] Joseph Liechty, “Putting Forgiveness in its Place: The Dynamics of Reconciliation,” in Explorations in Reconciliation: New Directions in Theology, 59-68.

[xlvi] John Paul Lederach, The Journey Toward Reconciliation (Scottdale, Pennsylvania and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 1999), 159.

[xlvii] Harold Wells, “Theology for Reconciliation: Biblical Perspectives on Forgiveness and Grace,”  The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge to Churches, 4.

[xlviii] Raimon Panikkar, Cultural Disarmament: The Way to Peace (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 23.

[xlix] Ibid., 16.

[l] Lederach, The Journey Toward Reconciliation, 78.

[li] R. Scott Appleby, “Religion and Conflict Transformation,” in Liberating Faith: Religious Voices for Justice, Peace, and Ecological Wisdom (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2003), 439.

[lii] Panikkar, Cultural Disarmament: The Way to Peace, 34-35.

[liii] McGinnis, Parenting for Peace and Justice,  50.

[liv] Ibid., 52.

[lv] Elise Boulding, “Cultures of Peace and Communities of Faith,” in Robert Herr and Judy Zimmerman Herr, eds., Transforming Violence: Linking Local and Global Peacemaking (Scottdale, Pennsylvania/Ontario, Cananda: Herald Press, 1998),  96-97.

[lvi] Ibid., 97.

[lvii] Panikkar, Cultural Disarmament: The Way to Peace , 36.

[lviii] Michael Lerner cited in Clinton Stockwell, “Cathedrals of Power: Engaging the Powers in Urban North America,” in Craig Van Gelder, ed., Confident Witness–Changing World: Rediscovering the Gospel in North America (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1999), 85.

[lix] Lisa Schirch, Strategic Peacebuilding: A Vision and Framework for Peace with Justice (Intercourse, Pennsylvania: Good Books, 2004).

[lx] For strategies for building identity as a peacemaking church, see Jay Lintner, “Building a Peacemaking Church,” in Hugh Sanborn, ed., The Prophetic Call: Celebrating Community, Earth, Justice, and Peace (St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2004), 165-178.

[lxi] Thich Nhat Hanh, Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World (New York/ London/Toronto/Sydney/Singapore: Free Press, 2003), 64-65.

[lxii] Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966), 73.

[lxiii] Kate Compton, in Geoffrey Duncan, ed., Dare to Dream: A Prayer and Worship Anthology from Around the World (London: Fount Paperbacks, 1995), 43.

[lxiv] Mary Elizabeth Mullino Moore, “Wounds of Hurt, Words of Faith,” in Strike Terror No More: Theology, Ethics, and the New War, 324.

[lxv] Catherine Peck, “The Palestinian Center for Rapproachment between People,” in The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge to the Churches, 96-109.