This post has been a long time in the making, thinking and deciding. It is perhaps the most controversial, debatable view that I hold strongly to and so it has been a matter of thought and prayer to even come to the point that I submit these thoughts, just the tip of the iceberg, to the blogosphere. This is why I am a pacifist:
Pacifism, most would agree, is a great thought. The idea of achieving world peace is beautiful and most would say, wonderful to fantasize about. And most would use that key word “fantasize” to claim that it is an untenable position to hold. That the ideal is too high, too unachievable. And until about a year ago I would have agreed. Pacifism is an ideal. For many, that’s enough to stop them from pursuing it any further. We live in an increasingly idealess world where anything that possibly extends beyond the concrete and tangible reality is dismissed as naivete, religiosity or some combination of the two. However, I am willing to run that risk.
About a year ago I had the opportunity to listen to a Jesuit priest speak. This Jesuit priest is also an avid pacifist which, for him, spills over into somewhat incredulous acts of civil disobedience however that is an entirely different topic. His name was John Dear and for me, on September 26, 2008 he made me understand why I could be a pacifist. The answer was simple, almost alarmingly so, and lay at the center of what I professed to believe, namely, Jesus. The pieces fell into place, the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed and lived was a Kingdom of Peace. He was to be called, after all, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). That is not to say that he proclaimed a Kingdom of Weakness or Timidity or Simply-Watch-Injustice. But the Kingdom of Peace that Jesus proclaimed was robust in its very simplicity. That simplicity was “follow me.”
Perhaps one of the most poignant passages and example occurs in the garden of Gethsemane. As the guards lay hands on Jesus to arrest him, Matthew records that:
One of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place…” (Matthew 26:51-52a)
In this definitive moment, when the Son of God is being arrested, when a man has never been more justified to use violence, Jesus affirms the way of peace and commands that the sword be returned to its scabbard.
Jesus did not just model the way of peace, he created it through his very example. What is an impossible ideal is made real in Christ. And so, while I read of wars and killings and senseless deaths. While I hear that mankind is destroying themselves. While I see gratuitous violence and death pervading media, I will still proclaim the Kingdom of Peace because Jesus did and I am his follower.