The Peace of Humility
Christopher B. Harbin
Around this time of year it is common for thoughts to turn to issues of world peace. We look at warring conflicts in places like Syria and the Central African Republic and wonder about the possibility of ceasing hostilities. We hear stories repeated of World War II soldiers in Germany pausing from firing their guns to sing Silent Night across the battlefield lines on Christmas Eve. We wish to believe that peace might truly be possible, yet we keep our hopes in check. We refuse to believe that those who wish for war and violence will lay down their weapons and agree to live in peace. If those other people would simply adopt our purposes, our priorities, and our call to peace, we could all get along. Rarely, however, do we stop to consider how we ourselves might contribute to the state of violence around the world. Is it too much to ask that we all adopt a more humble approach toward seeking peace?
We may pray for world peace, but there is much more to be done than pray and pretend that peace is out of our hands. Nelson Mandela understood there was more to peace than simply making a wish, phrasing a plea for divine intervention, or expressing an empty hope. For Mandela, peace was a goal to be attained through diligent effort, patience, and accepting of the realities of life. The world pays homage and tribute today to what Nelson Mandela accomplished in the midst of the Apartheid regime of South Africa. He took an abstract hope to achieve peace and added to it the hard work necessary to build a foundation for peace at great personal cost. We do well to remember some of the principles he set forth in his own life to work toward a real and lasting peace. The world grieves his loss, but perhaps we should grieve more that too few of us live according to the principles of peace he set in motion.
Mandela came to power in South Africa as a man focused on helping his own people out of a system of raci ...
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