I couldn’t help thinking today of those that made the possibilities of peace and justice a little more real, closer to being achievable:
And thousands upon thousands who did what seemed impossible—lived their lives as people committed to peace and justice in times of violence and oppression. It is due to their keeping alive a tradition of hope in periods that may seem hopeless that has truly made it possible for anyone to live in places of relative peace and security.
They did not serve in disciplined armies. They did not take up arms against the forces arrayed against them. But they did speak out. They leafleted, fasted, fed the hungry, sheltered the refugee, walked the picket lines, refused to kill, prayed, sang, petitioned, refused to turn away from those in need. They were mocked, assaulted, arrested, imprisoned, killed.
They did not become those they opposed. They continued to love their enemies, feed the hungry, honoured the creator, write satirical folk songs, pray, celebrate with the wrong people, remember, dream.
We don’t easily recall their names or faces. We saw them on the bridge at Selma; We saw them at Tiananmen Square; We saw them putting flowers in the barrels of guns at the Pentagon and draping garlands on tanks in Prague. We read about them in May Square or Rosenstrasse.
We recall them in various church litanies and old labour songs. Occasionally made saints, most often they were part of the unmarked chain of ordinary people who just did ordinary things in times when too many others didn’t.
If I am free today it is due to the ongoing work of those who live out a call to a peacemaker in times of war; who feed their neighbours in hard times; who find their world includes those pushed to the margins.
Working for peace and justice is dangerous work. People loose their freedom. They are wounded and left shattered. People die doing it.
We need to remember them. More importantly, we need to emulate them. In times of economic crisis and in a world with interwoven wars and violence, we need to join in the work of the unremembered. It is time for peacemaking and co-op building and reweaving all the many webs of life.