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?
- May 27, 2010 at 8:01 am
My greatest peace teachers are the teachers that have shown love to their students over the years. These teachers have taught that everyone is special and worth of love and respect. These teachers have instilled in their students a sense of peace by being an example to their students of what a peaceful life looks like. Yes, these teachers are great teachers such as Jesus, the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa, but they are also the everyday unsung heroes, such as grandparents, school teachers, friends and strangers. Peace teachers are not only the people who protest and march for human rights, they are also the people who live each day in peace and who help others to do so as well. They do so by teaching people how to say “I’m sorry” or by teaching empathy and compassion for others whether through volunteering, their work, or by just being who they are, loving human beings who love to help others in need. Peace teachers are everywhere, they are in you, they are in me and it doesn’t take grand acts of courage or bravery to make a difference in the world. Every small step leads you along the path of peace and we are all walking it together. So lets invite everyone we know to join us, hand in hand and one day, there will be peace.
- May 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm
My mother, who practised the bible verse, “A soft answer turneth away wrath”. That’s probably not the exact quote but it is the ideal for which she strived. I’ve learned from the teachers the others mentioned, and the Amish in Lancaster Co. when their children were murdered. Jimmy Carter also comes to mind, and the little boy, Mattie Stepanek, who loved him. Mattie died young from Muscular Dystrophy. He once wrote, “And now, let us pray, differently , yet together, before there is no earth, no life, no chance for peace”. Amen
- June 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm
Meet Nkosi Johnson, a 12-year old boy who lived and died with AIDS. He will steal your heart and change you in the book by Jim Wooten entitled “WE ARE ALL THE SAME.” Nkosi is definitely one of my greatest teachers.
My greatest peace teachers are Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr., Saint Francis of Assisi, and Sister Alice Baker, IHM.