Reconciling justice, peace



The Gazette, Colorado Springs


Is it possible to reconcile the search for justice and the search for peace? The nature of warfare is changing as it plays out in Ukraine, in Israel and Gaza, and in countless other conflicts. In almost every case, there is a consensus that the problem is fueled by a sense of exclusive identity— that MY identity is the only identity that matters, and, therefore, YOUR identity is worth-less, not worthy of dignity or recognition. For example, conflating all Muslims or all Palestinians with Hamas dehumanizes entire communities, providing dangerous justification for indiscriminate destruction. Likewise, conflating all Jews or all Israelis with the extremist policies of those who advocate the destruction of Gaza and all its inhabitants breeds anti-semitism, with all of its hateful roots. This is real – already innocent people in our own country have died because of this hatred. The same, of course, can be said of Russians, Ukrainians … or, for that matter, the language we’ve used to dehumanize and conflate supposed enemies throughout history. The same, of course, can also be said of the polarization in our domestic politics, including recent calls from some that political opponents are “vermin … to be crushed.” But that’s another story. Worship last week at First Congregational Church explored the commonalities shared between Buddha and Jesus. Many of Jesus’ teachings are very similar, if not identical, to the teachings of the Buddha who lived some 600 years before Jesus. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have much more in common than most people think, including a common Abrahamic foundation. The “Golden Rule”—treat others as you would wish to be treated—can be found in the religious teachings of virtually every major religion. Christians are poised to enter the season of Advent, a season of longing, watching, and praying for God’s healing, transformative presence to be ever more vibrantly present in the world. Advent focuses Christians on that key phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” Whatever your politics or religion or worldview — whatever your views on the enormously complex and seemingly unsolvable conflicts in Eastern Europe or the Middle East or elsewhere — we can all keep hope alive that love is indeed stronger than hate, peace more enduring than war, and hope more powerful than despair. Lee Ann Bryce Colorado Springs