By: Javier P.
We need peacemakers now more than ever. It seems like everywhere you turn, there is social and cultural unrest. Peacemakers are those who do hard work and step into areas of strife and bring things, or people, into a place of peace. Peacemaking is an active engagement and embrace of tension. It is the peacemakers that help us here at SOS in our goal to secure at-risk children. Many distinct qualities make someone a peacemaker. Here are some of the characteristics we have seen from those making peace around the world.
Peacemakers lean into hard things
Entering into a space in unrest is not for the faint of heart. The act of making peace is one of deliberate effort, not passivity. Peacekeeping means to deescalate conflict through appeasement. French-American writer Ève Curie criticized the passivity of many nations at the onset of WWII, saying that “peace at any price is no peace at all.” The peace that comes through appeasement or inaction does not create genuine peace. True peace comes through hard work and leaning into hard and uncomfortable spaces. It’s being willing to sit in the tension between two sides to be a mediator. It is a challenging thing to work out peace between two or more parties in a struggle with one another. Reconciliation is not accomplished with pacifism; it’s done through a complex and often lengthy process with the purpose of peace.
Peacemakers play a vital role in creating safe environments for people. As people who promote peace, peacemakers establish spaces where everyone is given a seat at the table. They create relationships with people who have different worldviews than they do. This is a tough space to navigate, but people who pursue peace know that to create peace means to include and understand the perspectives of others. This is hard work that requires both strength and gentleness.
Peacemakers are gentle
Gentleness is often described as “strength under control.” It is not just about being calm and kind, but rather a quality that requires great strength. The ability to avoid giving in to anger requires immense self-control. Being gentle, tender, and considerate of other people’s perspectives takes incredible strength. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Village Blacksmith” beautifully illustrates this quality. He begins the poem by describing the blacksmith’s physical strength, hard work ethic, and brawn. Later, Longfellow contrasts the blacksmith’s strength with his tenderness, as the blacksmith is moved to tears during a church service while sitting with his family. The poem highlights the dynamic of a peacemaker, a person who possesses strength for hard work but is gentle towards the world and community around them. Each of us carries power in our words and actions, whether through our stature or influence. The gentle person knows when and how to speak to others, especially when tensions are high.
Peacemakers seek to honor people
Honoring the lives of others is a fundamental principle that drives humanitarian work and peacekeeping efforts. It is impossible to strive for justice without valuing human life. To truly honor people, we must acknowledge their inherent worth regardless of race, color, or creed. This is especially important when serving vulnerable individuals, such as at-risk children.
Choosing an attitude of honor also helps peacemakers respond with kindness when faced with anger or hostility towards opposing viewpoints. Spend just five minutes on social media, and you will quickly see a heated argument on a controversial topic. Peacemakers know how to treat everyone with respect, even those who hold different opinions than they do. The ability to maintain civil discourse is a skill that appears to be dwindling in today’s world, but not for the peacemakers. The desire to honor people guides peacemakers as they navigate challenging situations, always prioritizing the worth of human life over the need to be correct.
Peacemakers see people.
Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean disregarding challenging realities or injustice. Peacemaking starts with seeing people and their needs, even in difficult situations. Sometimes, our temptation may be to avoid acknowledging situations that make us feel sad, confused, or uncomfortable. However, peacemakers are willing to face these situations head-on. They understand the importance of being aware and caring about what is happening in their communities. This often means allowing ourselves to feel emotions like sadness or anger, but it is necessary to see the people involved to take action. Bringing peace to places of unrest starts with opening oneself to feel the emotions instead of trying to guard oneself against them. You cannot bring peace to what you are unwilling to see.
We need peacemakers!
Walking the path of a peacemaker is hard, but it’s a path that is well worth the challenge! For some, being a peacemaker may start with cultivating friendships with people whose worldviews differ from theirs. For others, being a peacemaker right now means being bold and empowered, even if they feel unequipped, to step into a situation around you that needs peace.
It is the peacemakers that help SOS carry out the mission to secure at-risk children all around the world. They boldly step into these situations and do whatever they can to make a change in their community. These are parents, teachers, pastors, or other members of Local Care Networks aiming to make an impact. These peacemakers know the needs of their community because they have courageously chosen to see their community as is and engage areas of injustice while believing in and working towards a better future.
You are a part of this group of peacemakers! We are so thankful that you chose to partner with us in taking action. We want to encourage you to lean in and push deeper into the qualities of a peacemaker. The world around you needs more peacemakers like you!