Glen Stassen and John Howard Yoder taught me that peacemaking is both a faith commitment and a social science. Near the end of his life, Yoder wrote:
If children grow to fruitful adulthood, if fields are cultivated in such a way as not to lose fertility, if carefully coordinated labor achieves large goals, it will be because ways have been found to hold violence to a minimum. . . There are better and worse ways to handle conflict. The differences can be studied. We can generalize from them and extrapolate from them. This is a descriptive science, challenging the best intelligences to observe and analyze.
This is the task that Glen Stassen and his colleagues took on as they applied Jesus’ transforming initiatives to various contemporary peacemaking efforts. It includes things such as supporting nonviolent action, advancing democracy and human rights, sustainable economic development, climate change solutions, women’s education, and reducing the proliferation of weapons of war. This partial list of transformative initiatives can inspire us to take it in still other directions.
The challenge for all of us is to put such faith into action. It begins with making peace with God, myself, and my neighbor. As Mother Theresa has said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” For me, this is a call to love all people, including my enemies, and to join hands with others in collaborative peacebuilding initiatives.