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Friday, May 20, 2005

Peace-making vs. Peace-loving

On May 15 our family went to a peace rally to remember all the people killed in the Iraq war, the 100,000 plus civilians as well as the 1,600 soldiers. My hungry eight-year-old, who wanted to leave and get ice cream, looked around at the clumps of veteran peace activists sitting on the grass listening to speeches they’ve heard before and said scornfully, “This is not going to change George Bush’s mind.” Her criticism stung because it was so true.

I’m reading Jim Wallis’ book God’s Politics in which he points out that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “Blessed are the peacelovers.” Most of us at that rally were peacelovers, but to actually make peace we need something like an effective strategy, which the peace community doesn’t seem to have at the moment. There are meetings and events, most of which go unreported in the media, but these events are a fraction of the size of the rallies protesting the war before it began. Then we had a sense that we might actually affect the course of events. Now we don’t, especially after the election, which so many of us worked so hard on.

Although many of the speeches were good, especially those by veterans and members of Military Families Speak Out, I felt we needed something radically different. Perhaps we could have gone across the street to the counter-protesters with US flags and engaged them in real dialog. We could have made a deal with them: they would really listen to our speeches, and we would really listen to theirs. We could try to understand each other, instead of each side broadcasting to their own. Probably it wouldn’t have worked, but was our nice civil peace-loving event better than a messy but real attempt at peace-making?

When my daughter said that the peace rally would not change George Bush’s mind, I responded, “You’re right. But it is important for us to be here to show that someone cares about all the people being killed.” I believe that, but I also believe it is not enough.


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