We welcome guest blogger Sister Alice Baker, IHM.
In reflecting on the question, who are my greatest peace teachers, I’ve come to a simple conclusion; they are all those persons in my life who are Risk-Takers for Peace. So many have touched and inspired me to “step out of the box.” Risk involves just that, and much more. For me, it implies one is grounded in a deep faith and trust in the One who calls — God. For me, Jesus is my prime example of a risk-taker: facing the powers of darkness all around Him with courage and compassionate love. There are many others, too, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy, John XXIII, Dorothy Day, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Catherine of Siena. Each one had to listen to that inner voice of Truth that called them to speak their truth to power, risking all. Facing misunderstanding, making mistakes, and suffering through consequences only made them stronger and more courageous workers for peace.
For me, peace work calls me out of myself, stretches my limits, and challenges my status-quo thinking. Never did I dream I would find myself marching for migrants’ rights in the Yale-Croswell-Lexington, Michigan, area in the late 60’s. Nor did I ever see myself driving overnight to a march in support of Daniel and Philip Berrigan and the “Harrisburg 7” in Pennsylvania in the early 70’s. Or did I ever think I would be involved in rallies to save our Catholic schools and parishes in the inner city of Detroit in the 70’s and 80’s. In the last two decades, I’ve found myself responding to peace demonstrations at the School of the Americas, in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and at the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. And, one of my most recent challenges came when I found myself in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a member of the Michigan Peace Team in the summers of ’02 and ’04. In all of these peace experiences I find hope from the community of peace activists with whom I walk. Though some immediate effects may not be positive, I know, and believe, the long term effects will always be with me. I have been stretched, challenged, and changed, and have made long-lasting friends for peace.
In Webster’s thesaurus, the word “risk” as a verb or action word can mean: to run a risk, take a chance, lay oneself open to, gamble, do at one’s one peril, go beyond one’s depth, lay oneself open to, go through fire and water, skate on thin ice, fish in troubled waters, live in a glass house, or leap before one looks. Without exception, I am thankful for the many unnamed people in my life that fit these descriptions. They have been present with and touched me deeply. They are Risk-Takers for Peace. May I continue together with them to run the risk – for peace.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – always! (from the movie “Gandhi”)
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Who are your greatest peace teachers and why?