“[W]ar is not inevitable...,” noted a recent Monitor editorial (see “What to think of North Korea on Peace Day,” CSMonitor.com). This statement, attributed to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, points to a concept of peace as something we can expect, not just hope for.
It’s tempting to raise an eyebrow at this if we’re perusing a history book or listening to the news. But thought-provoking ideas like this can help further progress in our communities and the world – and prompt us to think about what we as individuals can do to contribute to it.
The editorial also referred to something Mr. Guterres said about being “mobilized for peace.” To me, this idea resonates as a call for action – and not just for presidents, prime ministers, monarchs, or military leaders. Each of us can ask ourselves: “What am I holding to as more powerful: conflict or peace? Which am I furthering through my own thoughts and actions?”
In thinking about my own response to these questions, one thing I’ve found helpful is to look at peace as something more than simply the absence of conflict, but instead as an active presence in and of itself. I love the imagery in this Bible verse in which God promises “peace ... like a river” (Isaiah 66:12). Rivers flow – that’s their nature. Some flow so powerfully that they carve out great chasms in the earth, completely reshaping the landscape.
So this peace that’s “like a river” isn’t just a pause while the guns are reloaded. It’s a powerful force for good that comes straight from the universal divine Spirit, eternally. We can discern it by shifting our thought away from dwelling on the discord and fear, and looking instead to this deep reality, in which peace is so powerful that it actually precludes the existence of inharmony. God, who is infinite good, could never create or know evil – so divine peace can never run dry. It embraces all of us, created as the very reflection of divine Spirit.
Even when conflict seems so intense and inescapable, spiritual reality doesn’t change. “For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,/ Whate’er betide,” promises the first verse of a poem titled “Satisfied,” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science (“Poems,” p. 79). Everyone is included in God’s “pure peace.”
Acknowledging this is a powerful way each of us can “mobilize for peace.” It’s often not easy. But when we’re willing to let the enduring peace of divine Love lift our fear and anger, we come to see more clearly that peace is normal and natural and, yes, inevitable. We’re better prepared to see evidence of the power of peace in the world around us. We’re more equipped to bring a spirit of peacefulness to the table in our interactions with others.
In this way, little by little, we can help further peace in our families, neighborhoods, and beyond. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” said Christ Jesus (John 14:27). This spiritual peace is everyone’s to feel and express.