Reflections on Peace

Posted on July 13, 2010 by ELCA World Hunger

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” –Mother Teresa

I am a big fan of quotes and this is one that is particularly powerful to me. It is one that keeps me motivated to work for worldwide justice. It reminds me why it is important that I think about others when I make lifestyle choices each day. It is a quote that reminds me that I am connected to each and every human being on this planet.

First, I want to reflect on the word “peace”. In college I am pursuing a minor in Peace Studies, so I’ve thought a lot about what this word means. One aspect of peace that I have learned in my classes is that there are two different kinds of peace. One is negative peace, which sounds bad but it really just means an absence of war and violence. The other is positive peace which is a little more comprehensive. Positive peace includes anything related to justice: social, racial and economic, gender, environmental, etc. In a document from the University of Hawaii, Professor R.J. Rummel states, “This is not only peace from violence, but also peace of mind.” The quote serves as a reminder to me to work for justice, to work for creating a worldwide “peace of mind.”

 “We belong to each other” also resonates with me. Although we tend to divide humankind by race, religion, nation, geographic location, class and caste, I believe we are all neighbors, no matter how far away we are from each other. Simply because we are all human beings, we need to take care of each other. But more than that, we are all connected – even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. For example, I know that personally, on a day-to-day basis, I don’t notice the effects of climate change. However, this is not the case everywhere. While I was in India, I talked with a tribal village that truly relied on the land. Their water supply came from the local river, they relied on plants and animals around them for food, and much of their livelihood came from the surrounding forests. As we talked to them, they explained how in recent years, life has gotten more difficult. The river is drying up and the forest is disappearing. Performing their daily tasks is getting harder and harder. These people, who lived in a manner much more sustainable than I do, were suffering in part because of the actions of others around the world. They asked us if God was punishing them for something. My connection to strangers halfway across the world has never been clearer to me than at that moment. My actions and habits can affect others.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This is a quote I turn to again and again for inspiration and motivation. Are there anymore quote lovers out there? What quote helps you on your road to justice?

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