we peace lovers or peace makers?
The following is a speech delivered by Anglican
Bishop Peter Price at an anti-war rally in London on Saturday, Sept. 28:
I am frightened we are hurtling towards a war that will have unseen
and unforeseeable consequences. For we will not only fight a wicked regime
but enter a war that could devastate and destroy our friends. My mind goes
back to a visit to Iraq in 1999. I was invited with others, including the
Bishop of Coventry, to a lunch with a Christian family. At his table our
host welcomed us, our Iraqi minders, secret police, and drivers. He took
a large unleavened bread and broke it, sharing it with us and saying in Arabic:
"Under God, we are all one, as we share this bread." Before the meal ended
he beckoned me for a quiet word in his garden, telling me in a few hastily
grabbed moments what life was like.
It was not good: His action that lunchtime put him and his family in
danger. "I am making this garden for peace," he said. "It is on the site
of a bomb crater. Come and sit down with me under this fig tree." In that
moment I reflected on the vision of the prophet Micah. "Nation shall not
lift up sword against nation, or ever again be trained to make war. But each
one will sit down under his own vine and fig tree with no one to trouble
him." Today I wonder what will happen to such people, to one who practices
"loving his enemy" if war comes. This march today represents people of all
faiths and none. We represent people who believe war can at times be justified, and those who believe that war is always wrong.
What unites us is a sense that preparations for war that could begin
with a unilateral, pre-emptive strike is illegal, immoral, and unwise. Let
there be no mistake. We regard Saddam and his regime as a real threat to
his own people, neighbouring countries, and to the world. Saddam must end
the repression of his people, abandon his efforts to develop weapons of mass
destruction, and respect the legitimate role of the U.N. as it ensures that
he does so. But our nations must pursue these goals in a manner consistent
with moral principles, international law, and political wisdom. We must be
guided by the vision of a world in which nations stop seeking to resolve
their problems by making war. Within the traditions of Judaism, Islam, and
Christianity there is teaching that obliges governments and citizens to work
for the avoidance of war.
Today we are demonstrating for peace. But are we peace lovers, or peacemakers? We
must not only demand of governments that they work for peace, but that we
as citizens so change our attitudes that peacemaking becomes as natural as
breathing. Demonstrations rarely change things immediately. What changes
things is when people find in their heart a new resolve, a new courage to
shape the world differently. War may come. The question is what will we do
then? Do we simply shrug our shoulders and walk away, saying "We demonstrated
in Hyde Park, but it failed?"
As a Christian, I follow Jesus of Nazareth who said, "Blessed are the peace makers"; not peace lovers.
We all love the idea of peace. Today we are demonstrating for a new kind
of world, but it will not come unless we work for it. We cannot be peacemakers only when war threatens.
True peacemaking is demanding. It demands new attitudes from governments and citizens;
it demands we open our eyes to see all humanity as one and equal; it demands
we recognize that a bomb dropped on an Iraqi, Palestinian, or Jew is as a
bomb dropped on any of us; peacemaking demands no more unilateral actions
by powerful nations; peacemaking demands the dismantling of all weapons of
mass destruction. To build lasting peace we need new international, political,
judicial, and financial institutions; the ending of international debt. Peacemaking
requires a revitalized United Nations; equality before international law;
the ending of discrimination over the application of U.N. resolutions. Peacemaking
demands we find common ground by moving to higher ground, rising above old arguments over just war and pacifism. Today we give a simple message. Stop the war. Contain and disarm Saddam.
But building world peace does not happen with slogans or rallies, but
through citizens and governments that: Pray peace; think peace; speak peace;
and act peace. Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest peace activist of all,
and he said "Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God."