Response to the Peace and Justice Education Conference, By Anna DeWeese

Posted on August 2nd, 2010 | Filed under InterViews

The question at the beginning of the interView about the Peace and Justice Education Conference - do we teach violence? - has a rather haunting quality, especially when it is posed as a religious one. In my previous post I mentioned that religious language has potential for great power, which can be utilized in equally positive and negative ways. Violence is about power, and as such religious violence is an issue I take very seriously. Teaching violence is not something I believe is intrinsic to religions. However, the propensity toward violence seems to be one of the most common (and saddest) features of the human condition, and it has certainly been exacerbated and abused in the name of and for the sake of religious causes. The questions of violence, suffering, power and injustice are what drew me to interfaith involvement. Compassion is another trait that I believe to be common to humanity; it is something I believe is intrinsic to religions; yet, like violence, it must be learned, practiced and upheld.

Another important aspect of this video was the notion that peace is a ‘touchy’ topic – well, of course it is! We are talking about bodies, about life, about death! Of course it makes people ‘touchy’. But I ask one thing to be kept in mind when talking about peace: pacifism is not passivity. Peace keepers and peace-makers are not doormats who allow injustice to pass through unchallenged. Peace is not for the faint of heart. In my Christian understanding, peace and justice are the work of all who espouse to be living the gospel, and it is not laid out in scripture to be an easy task. But in peaceful community we can achieve what I believe to be God’s will.

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