What Are We Willing To Give Away For Peace?

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December 27, 2015

What Are We Willing To Give Away For Peace?

 Quite often, we pray for peace. A prayer for peace seems to be part of the prayers of the faithful at every Mass. We often hear the pope, or some other religious leader pray for peace. We are invited to share a sign of peace at Mass, just before we receive the Eucharist. Christmas and secular holiday cards extend wishes of peace. Why is there no peace? Is God not listening? Does God not care anymore? Why is peace so elusive? The answer is really quite simple, the solution; a lot more difficult. The simple answer is that peace is not at the center of our will, our ambition, our nature, our heart. Humanity is uniquely created in the image of God. Unlike other creatures created by God, humanity has a soul. But humans do share a common trait, a common nature, a common will, with all created species, animal or plant; a will to survive.

 All living species require four essential elements for survival; air, water, nutrition, and warmth. Using a rather simplified idea, the key to survival is competition. Vegetation is severely limited in its ability to re-locate to a more hospitable environment. At best, the winds and other mobile life forms can transport seeds and pollen to transplant the next generation into a more suitable location. Still, whether favorable or not, all plants within any geographical location compete for the same resources of oxygen, nutrients, and water. The mobility of animal and aquatic life allows access to more territory to cultivate or hunt the necessities of life. But within their environments, there is yet competition for survival. The most successful and creative is the human species. The human species is the only species able to create a survivable environment when one does not exist naturally. Humans can construct dwellings, build fires, dig wells, plant crops, and hunt from safe distances.

 A central aspect of survival is a nature to compete. A core nature of the human person is to be a competitor. (Do not misunderstand me, please. I am not an advocate for participation trophies. People compete in a wide multitude of events and some excel, and some less that others. Those who excel and gain the most points, fastest time, or best strategies win the event.) When our sense of competition allows, or drives us to think of ourselves as better, superior, more deserving by just being, that sense of competition moves us into the arena of sin. Olympians, Michael Phelps and Simone Baiz are in all likelihood the greatest competitors in the histories their sport. Tom Brady, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is probably the greatest quarterback in the history of football. In the 1970’s, Bobby Fisher was the greatest chess player. You name the field, athletic, academic, political, industrial, etc. there are those who are the greatest in history, and there are more that are participants. But in the eyes of the divine, none are ever better than the other.

 Humanity has reached a point in the science of cultivation, that there is no moral reason for starving humans. Humans have attained the sophistication in science and technology to provide the basics of life for every human being on earth. What humanity has yet to learn is the universal nature of equality of being. At the very core of disharmony, the opposite of peace, is not the competition for survival, it is not even the failure to recognize enough. The core of disharmony is the reluctance, unwillingness to share what is mine! When we allow our competitive natures to devalue other persons, for any reason, we place ourselves in the arena of sin.

The lack of peace in our world is not an indication of God’s deafness. To interpret the eons and eons of wars and hatreds in human history as God’s level of unconcern, is to deny the will of God. There will never be peace in our world until we remove ourselves, our egos, our possessiveness, our meanness, from the center of our will, our heart, and replace that core of being with Christ. As written in the Prayer of Saint Francis: Let peace begin with me.

Deacon Bill Stimpson

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