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A peaceful heart

"There can be no real peace without justice. And without resistance, there will be no justice," writes Arundhati Roy.

Peace, in a world bent on war and intent on drawing the rest of us into it, is a precious commodity. But not an easy one to achieve.

Do anything you can to avoid war–personal or public. Do everything you can to make peace real. But remember that peace can never come from either fear or threat. Both of those must be dispelled before the trust that is of the essence of peace can possibly break out.

Peace is not the acceptance of evil. On the contrary, real peace requires resistance to evil. But not in evil ways. This kind of peacemaking requires courage, not power, a kind of strength that uses love rather than force to change the world.

It is possible for one person to refuse to make war, but it is not possible for one person to make peace. To make real peace takes two. To solve an impasse with the other, I need to ask myself what it is in me that is feeding the war.

At the basis of peace is respect for the traditions, cultures, gifts, and good intentions of the other. Anything else is either patronizing or arrogant. The greatest instrument of peace is language. When our words are kind––however difficult the message may be––peace is possible. When our words are hurtful, the peace between us will never be real.

To bring people to reconciliation, to avoid what is damaging to the other, to bring love where pain has been, to open our arms to the world––these make the Christian message real. It is time to stop defining peace as the absence of war and start defining it as the presence of God. 
                  ––from Aspects of the Heart: The Many Paths to a Good Life, by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)