“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9)
In a world of zealously-guarded, embittered and brittle opinions –
revered by all holders of whatever side(s) as belief,
then, in the twinkling of their (our) eyes, they (we) exalt to the status of their (our) truths,
which they (we all), sometimes, dare,
with little of humility’s hesitation,
to consider (self-evident, universal) Truths –
when listening is a little-practiced act,
even more (worse), a lost art
(save, of course,
at the behest of that/our cherished choice
of hearing familiar sounds of agreement)
how does peace have (stand!) a chance?
how can peace be made?
As I, long ago, learned
(for the sake of human communication,
aye, for the sake of holy communion),
to define my terms:
I mean not the absence of conflict,
but rather, e’en and especially amidst the heated variance
the presence of the acceptance of difference
incarnate in the embrace of the compassioned arms
of the commonality of our humanity.
For if, when I (or so I have come to believe) reject your view,
I, in some sure (tho’, perhaps, unstated, e’en unconscious measure) reject you
and, thus, at that instant moment (tho’, perhaps, unknowingly)
relinquish my right to have my position,
be valued by you.
The above is my poetic statement of the theoria or theory of biblical peacemaking, as I understand it: what it is and what it seeks to do.
As an existentialist, a real-world question swiftly arises having to do with the praxis, the practice of peacemaking.
What happens (and it does happen) when I encounter another whose point of view is anathema to mine own? How do I attempt to make peace, “to accept the difference” I have with another whose perspectives, if I were to tolerate them might mean the death of my self – whether understood in terms of my very life or my integrity or any other measure of my sacred individuality?
Straightway, I confess I have no easy, that is, comfortable answer. Rather, my response to my question is hard, indeed, hardest.
Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9.23-24).
If I take this literally (and I do), then, as Jesus died to make peace, I, as his follower, am called by him to do likewise. That is, for the sake of seeking to make the peace of mutual understanding, to be willing and able to encounter and to engage with another – come what may, come whate’er – whose theoria and praxis, whose belief and behavior are different than mine own.
Illustration: Christ Carrying the Cross (c. 1578), Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco) (1541-1614)