Today, September 21, is designated the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. The UN is calling for “a total cessation of hostilities around the globe.” I share this vision. Doesn’t every responsible person dream of a day of no war anywhere? Moreover, I applaud the people who are working for world peace. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ agrees: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt 5:9) So, today I am evaluating what I am doing to foster peace.
What can I do that will reduce hostility in our world?
- Pray: Undoubtedly, prayer is the most underused resource available to Christians. Not the “rescue me” or “protect me” prayers; rather the prayers that bless those who disagree with or persecute me. (Rom 12:14) I can pray for extremists, terrorists, political leaders, and religious clerics. As a Christian, I believe that my prayers for peace bring about real change in the spirit world which results in peace in my physical experience.
- Befriend my neighbors: I know my neighbors well enough to know that they are frightened and angry. They are afraid of global events that threaten to disrupt our comfortable lives. They are angry because they feel these events are unreasonable and out of their control. These are generally sincere and stable people. Nevertheless, sometimes some of them feel like ticking bombs. They are ready to explode as they watch the world come undone. Sometimes, they need a friend close-by to reassure them that doing the right thing is the right thing to do. I can be this voice of reason.
- Reach out to someone from another culture or religion: The best way I know to maintain a balanced perspective between what the news tells me the world is like and what is actually true is to befriend a Muslim or someone from another religion or culture. His perspective helps me better understand what I hear in the news. I have found that cross-cultural friendships quell feelings of fear and hatred and build compassion and empathy.
- Prioritize my spending habits: As a peacemaker, I can spend less on myself and contribute more to people, projects, and organizations that I believe are effectively building bridges of reconciliation between contentious factions. Fortunately, there are many people who are directly working for peace, often at great personal risk. I can stand with them by sacrificing some of my comfort and give toward their efforts.
There are more items that could be added to this list. What are you doing to foster peace? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.