Friday, October 20, 2017
Friday, October 20, 2017
I heard it again last week. A friend who belongs to another Christian denomination said he believed in nonviolence, but could never call himself a pacifist. "Pacifism is too disengaged, not active enough in the face of evil."
We had a lively discussion about this. You've likely heard this same complaint and had similar discussions. Of course, there was a time of being the "quiet in the land," but that's more the exception, not the rule, for Mennonite peacemakers and pacifists.
When I first began to learn about Mennonites, I was drawn in by the focus on Jesus as the center of the faith. I was hooked when I began to understand the dynamic ways Mennonites have taken that faith out into the world in creative ways. This goes as far back as the earliest Anabaptists who publicly rejected the coercive religion of the State. It continued in efforts like establishing conscientious objector status, rejection of supporting the military through tax resistance, the formation of organizations like Christian Peacemaker Teams that bring active non-resistance to the most dangerous conflicts. These are just the tip of the iceberg.
And we aren't talking only about ancient history. Mennonites continue to find new expressions of our faith that impact the world in ways that look like Jesus. Our work with trauma healing, with the Doctrine of Discovery, anti-racism efforts, building healing relationships with returning veterans—all these and more testify to the character of peacemaking being anything but passive!
As I write this, our nation is in the midst of natural disasters and social conflagrations. The hatreds and prejudices hidden in the human heart have once again found expression in political violence. The difference between our current state of affairs and violent eruptions of the past is that the ties that formerly helped us weather those stormy times are frayed to the point of failure.
Our institutions have been weakened. Mistrust between people has undermined our political systems. The anxiety of these stressful times can make the best of us want to throw up our hands and focus on seeking peace for our families and communities only.
Now more than ever, we can't be tempted to retreat into a "passive" pacifism. On the contrary, we need to redouble our efforts to find ways to bring our faith in Jesus to a world that cries out for healing and reconciliation.
The Peace and Justice Support Network is working to equip our Mennonite churches and peacemakers in these steps forward into turbulent times and situations. In this issue of DoveTales, you'll learn more about bystander intervention training. Learning what to do when you are witness to acts of intimidation and harassment allows us to go forward with the skills to be good neighbors to all. There's also information about how your church can learn more about drone warfare, a deceptive manifestation of violence that promises a more humane war, but in reality only extends and enlarges war.
Your prayers and financial support allow us to develop and offer these resources that spread the peace of Jesus when it's desperately needed. Thank you for your gifts. There's nowhere else I'd rather be in the current climate than with you, in our Mennonite faith and church, walking together on the path of peace.
Peace and Justice Support Network
We hope that our new DoveTales design will be more likely to be picked up and easier to read. Fortunately, it is also less expensive to print! I hope you like it.
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