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International Day of Peace

By Ailsa Betts

“Mum! She hit me on the face with a lettuce.”

“Mum! I can almost perform the entire score from Hamilton can I show you?” (Reply not waited for)

“When I go back to school, I am going to want the following things in my packed lunch.” (List launched into).

“Listen to me play [insert tune here] on my [insert instrument here].”

Sometimes I think I crave peace.

But on weeks like this, when both my children are back in school for the first time in six months, I somehow miss their noise.

The noise inside my head continues. I think about the things I need to get done. I think about issues that are arising at work. I think about injustices that are going on in our world.

I want to be at protests shouting that refugees are welcome, global warming is critical and that Black Lives Matter. I want to argue with MPs about the expenses they claim for breakfasts while children in their constituencies go hungry.

I want to be like Jesus when he was turning over the money changers tables in the temple or disrupting the status quo set by the religious elite of his time.

Then I remember the verse from Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I struggle to reconcile this with the Jesus putting the Pharisees in their place.

I find inspiration, however, in a podcast where political theologian, Stephen Backhouse tells the story of a way early Christians peacefully disrupted the system:

It used to be legal and acceptable to put unwanted, new born babies outside to die of exposure. Early Christians would take these babies in. They did not shout, protest, make a fuss or circulate petitions. They just took in babies and brought them up. The result was that after a few years, there were more adults in the economy than the authorities had accounted for in their predictions. The system had to change to accommodate them.

A beautiful example of disruptive peace.

On the 21st of September it will be the UN international day of peace (or Peace Day). Events will take place all around the world to celebrate and promote peace.

A quick look at Twitter tells me that humanity is not in a very peaceful place. Divisions exist over every social and political issue you can think of. Populist leaders are whipping their followers into xenophobic frenzies.

We find ourselves in a culture that demands we nail our banners to the mast of one side of the argument and discourages friendly discourse or middle ground. Many attempts at peaceful protest are ignored, leading to more extreme attempts being condemned.

As we reflect on Peace Day, may we find creative ways to peacefully disrupt the hatred and injustice. May we be discerning about the times when it is appropriate to turn over the tables and about the times we need to quietly show radical love and acceptance.

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