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Pray for the peace of the world

peace dove window 404ATLike everyone else, Philip Young has been shocked by the horrific acts of violence in Paris. He shares his thoughts with us here.

As always our foremost thoughts are with those bereaved or left injured.  It makes it all the worse that it was young people attacking, mostly, other young people. We are left bewildered and wondering what we can do about it. We live in one world and therefore there is not one of us left unaffected. 

I know that, with many other people, I am very worried that this violence will lead to more violence in an ever descending vicious circle, and to a world which is much less safe for ordinary folk going about their ordinary business. This in turn will lead to more security and less liberty. And Liberty, Equality and Fraternity is, of course, exactly what we wish to preserve.
So how do we go about preserving what we value most? Here it is very much down to us, the ordinary folk, to be peacemakers. All of us who believe in prayer can pray for peace, but we need to do much more than pray. We need to become active peacemakers.
We cannot possibly leave it to the politicians as they have the very difficult decisions as to how to protect their citizens from the all too real threat of violence. They have the duty of providing protection, which means they have to make the very difficult decision of whether and when to use force. Who can answer the question as to whether it was right to shoot to kill when the terrorists had the youngsters cornered in the concert? The terrorists may well have killed more people if the police had delayed any longer. I would not like to have to make that sort of split second decision.
On the other hand I do not think the politicians help us by using the violence of air strikes when the threat is not immediate. Although I do understand that these are not easy decisions.
Which is where the vast majority of us come in, because we can make all the difference by our actions. We need to become peacemakers because we are in a position where we can do so away from the front line of difficult decision making.
So how do we become peacemakers? First of all we have to begin with ourselves. We have to realise that all of us have violence within us as well as love and beauty. We must make it our life work to face the violence within and make peace with ourselves. Without us all seeking inner peace there will be no possibility of an outer peace. Violent people make for a violent world and so the more of us who can face the violence within ourselves and make peace with ourselves then the less violent the world becomes. The worst of myths is to believe that we can make no difference by our non-violence.
So will you commit yourself to becoming a peacemaker? This means finding out how to do this inner work of peace-making, and this may mean you doing a bit of research. First you have to ask yourself if this sort of inner change is possible and if so who is doing it well.
I can recommend that you look at the lives of Gandhi and Martin Luther King as I think that those two have worked with non-violence in a practical way better than anyone else so far. If we are to overcome violence then we have to 'study war no more' as the Negro spiritual song puts it. We must not be lazy in our study for the sake of those who have lost their lives already.
I think we must follow the ancient wisdom which says 'know yourself'. This may mean seeking help from counselling or from reading. I personally have found the Enneagram to be a very helpful tool in self-knowledge, but each of us has to do our own research and to find our own way. You owe it to all those murdered in Paris and in other acts of violence. Go and find a way which makes sense to you.
I think that healthy religion too can help us. Good religion is all about a transformation of the heart. The prophets make the promise that your heart of stone will be replaced by a heart of love and it is this personal transformation that we all need. The terrorists need a heart transplant that is for sure as they are full of hatred and violence. You can start the transformation with your own heart as each heart that is changed means a more peaceful world.
The death of the mean small heart of hatred and the birth of the new heart of love is the work of God and it is pure gift and pure grace. Each of us needs to find this way of love. One by one we can change the world and start right now. Jesus said on many occasions that the kingdom of heaven is all about you, amongst you and very close. (eg Matthew 4:17).
For the sake of all of us we need to seek out this way of love and transformation and then we will make the job of the politicians easier as the goodness in the world will be multiplied and can spread like a fire.
As we approach the darkness of mid-winter in the Northern hemisphere let us seek out the light which overcomes the darkness and let us not delay. Become a peacemaker and be prepared to work at it.
The image above is from the church in Cómpeta near Málaga in southern Spain and was taken by Philip Young.

Philip Young June 2014Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. He has recently moved to Felixstowe. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters and is currently writing his first book called, ‘Vote for Love’. He is available to give talks, presentations or to preach, and has Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Norwich and can be contacted at philipyoung@btinternet.com

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