Last week was about identifying the single most important issue confronting humanity. Not the only issue, just the most important one. It does little good to highlight a problem without offering a plan to help solve that problem. I hope to offer some suggestions for getting involved in the crucial effort to wage peace in the name of Christ.
The first thing that all of us can do is to get knowledgeable. We need to understand the issues. This means paying attention to the news. In whatever manner you get your news is less important than getting a variety of viewpoints. It is also important to get information from a perspective that is not solely U.S. based. A foreign perspective, while not free of bias, can be enlightening.
There are journalists out there who operate independently of the corporate media and, while you may not always agree with their perspective (I don’t always), they provide a valuable counterweight to the standard narrative. Journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Jeremy Scahill are three very good ones in this regard. Twitter also offers a way to access a wide range of perspectives by way of links of various points of view to longer and more substantive pieces. The point is, that you need information outside the mainstream narrative to understand the context of current issues of the day more fully.
In addition to a wide variety of news sources you need information about various peace groups and what they offer by way of information and involvement opportunities. As I highlighted last week there is the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero. They offer a realistic plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2045. There is also the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Another group offering opposition to nuclear weapons is Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Additional background and perspective can be found at War is a Racket and War Resisters League. Another good resource, especially regarding communication tools is World Beyond War.
Other organizations working against war include Code Pink, which has a left/progressive political orientation. In a more libertarian direction is the site antiwar.com. More explicitly religious peace organizations and information include Lutheran Peace and Christian Peace Theology.
Also, almost every state has an organization dedicated to peace. Simply search your state and “peace organizations” and you should find some resources. Don’t forget about your local church or larger denominational groups. They too may have an active organization working on these issues.
A Peace Plan
With this information at your disposal, you can now think about a peace plan. First, is get some talking points. Have a calm, rational way of speaking about these issues and communicate those ideas clearly. The 4-phase plan for nuclear disarmament found at Global Zero is a great resource to internalize for talking about building peace. It is also helpful to be able to discuss these issues from both a religious and secular perspective. Drive home why this is so important to humanity in general, but also people of faith.
If you are going to wage peace in a world conditioned to war and Mutual Assured Destruction, then you need to be ready to counterpunch. Have a few responses to the obvious objections. For instance, this is not about unilateral disarmament or somebody “going first”, This is about simultaneous, verifiable reductions and eliminations in nuclear weapons. Point out that 40 years ago there were over 70,000 nuclear weapons, today it is under 13,000. If we can reduce, we can eliminate. All the resources mentioned above can provide you other good responses to people’s questions. As for religious counterpunching, I would start with asking, “who would Jesus nuke?”. Next week I will go over the standard counter, counter punch to that question and a solid response to that. The point is be prepared, be calm, and be respectful. The true goal here is to reach people and change minds not to defeat them. As a business colleague once told me, “you can win the argument, or make the sale”. Make the sale.
Another aspect of waging peace is to communicate to the wider world. Obviously, you can do this on social media (the above rules apply as to civility). You can also engage traditional media. Letters to the editor and the like. Also, critically important is to communicate with your elected representatives. These people do take into consideration the views of those so motivated to write letters. Go all Andy Dufresne on them and write a letter a week. Also communicate within your faith community. These may all seem like small ways, but as Jesus pointed out even the smallest mustard seed can grow into a mighty tree. (Matthew 13:31-32).
Get in a Community
One of the most important aspects to waging peace, or any other kind of ministry, for that matter, is to join a community. We are always stronger in community. A listing of such groups can be found here and here. Remember, we are not alone in this struggle. If you join with others, you will first, magnify your efforts. Second, you will be energized when you concretely realize that there are others who share your passion, and this will keep you focused and persistent in the task ahead. This will also afford you the opportunity to join protests, marches, and the like to witness to your call for peace more concretely.
Many will feel that there is little we can do to make a difference. I disagree. Humans made the choices that have brought us to this point and humans can make the choices that step us back from where we are. There is always risk in change and the trust and verification needed to do this. If we consider that the rest of the world may be as terrified as we are at the possibility of human extermination, we just might find the common ground to make the hard, and verifiable choices necessary to take this creation ending risk off the table. I’m certain, however, that we do not need to live like this, and the only proper response to God’s gifts is to make the effort.
Praise Be to God