It’s weird—I didn’t see any news coverage on the one hundredth anniversary of the First World War on Monday. Admittedly, the anniversary could be considered a month past, when Europe and the U.S. recognized the centennial of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but on Monday, it seemed like the century since the beginning of the War to End All Wars came and went.
Part of that, I’m sure, is because of more pressing concerns. Israel will not come to a cease fire agreement with Palestine. The United States is accusing Russia of violating missile treaties and its culpability in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. ISIS continues to cause problems in Syria and Iraq; Syria continues in a bloody and terrifying civil war. On the border, refugee children stay in a state of non-personhood, kept in border control kennels while well-fed Americans on every side of the aisle debate about their future, needs and place in the world. I could go on, and on, and on.
Part of that, too, though, is this—there must be some grand human shame at our faithless hubris that any war could end war; that the most atrocious war in modern history would be followed up by a more potent, longer sequel with such greater reach. That we believed war would end with one generation while the next breaks the atom to conveniently vaporize people, then the develops domino theory, containment, proxy wars and napalm, then the next declares a cold war victory (except for Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, et. al, who lost) and seeks out a new enemy, and then the next, which finds it. One hundred years later, and here we are, letting war rage.
War is easy. The cost of war is staggering and terrible, but war itself—vengeance, destruction, hate, killing, death—it does not take a lot of foresight or effort. It may even be more of a default setting than peace for human beings. Because peace—peace has to be made, not fought. It is a collaboration, an intentional act of conversation and corroboration, of trust and reconciliation, of justice and mercy, and the energy expended and expected in such a process, especially after fighting and battles and war, can be exhausting.
So I have to ask, have we exhausted our capacity for peace? Have we given it a chance, to borrow from a certain Saint John, but let it leak from the vessels of our people, our society, our nation, and our souls? I’d like to think not.
This Sunday is Peace Sunday. Midway Hills is a Shalom Congregation, which does not make us anti-war; it makes us pro-peace. We are called to be peacemakers in the Reign of God, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to call evil evil but to fight evil with love. And it’s hard, and it’s draining, but it is for the sake of the world. And on Sunday, I’ll be announcing a year-long challenge for us and anyone who wants to work with us. (Here’s a hint: orizuru.) I look forward to seeing you Sunday.