Into the Mystic: Peace
It is the second week of advent.
That comes with a prayer for peace.
Well, as I have prayed since as long as I can remember, let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on Earth between Republicans and Democrats, but not at the expense of a gay man’s marriage rights or a woman’s right to choose.
Let there be peace on Earth between the Arab and the Israeli, but not at the expense of the Palestinian peoples who continue to lose land and agency.
Let there be peace on Earth between the conservative and the liberal, but not at the expense of an Earth losing its breath in a slow march to climate catastrophe.
Let there be peace on Earth between the Capitalist and the Communist, but not at the expense of the poor and underprivileged.
Let there be peace on Earth between people of all races, but not at the expense of those whom white bodies have marginalized through racist institutions and privileged lifestyles.
Let there be peace on Earth between people of all religious expressions, but not at the expense of those whom religion has demonized through the years.
I once heard a gay pastor sitting next to the trans woman who was the Moderator of his church say something to a preacher I will never forget. The preacher described the church in three groups: zealots who fought for a cause and led with anger; Pharisees who forced people into boxes and who led with the law and obedience to it; and the peaceful middle who would always try to reconcile the two. He was in the latter group. After preaching, the gay pastor with the trans woman as his moderator stood up and asked: I want to know how much of my justice you are willing to discard in order to reconcile with my abuser.
Peace cannot come by compromising with those invested in perpetuating the injustices of homophobia, racism, greed, oppression, or any other means of marginalizing another human being or profiting from their deprivations.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; but the presence of justice.”
Too often peace comes from the tyranny of the powerful who seek to reduce tension by quieting dissent.
In this most recent political cycle, we have heard phrases like “nevertheless she persisted” and “I dissent” emerge as calls to justice. They gained their purchase when women of power would not be silenced by the tyranny of a persistent oppression.
As this Advent season moves us into a week of praying for peace, I take seriously the invitation to let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me. But from my seat of privilege, I have to remind myself that peace is not just the absence of tension, and may in fact arise from the agitation of those who dissent and who nevertheless persist.
Let there be peace – well, no, let there be justice on Earth, and let it begin with me on this, our journey Into the Mystic.