President Barack Obama has captured the imagination of the world, and by doing so has earned the world’s most prestigious peace award, The Nobel Peace Prize. Like millions of Americans I woke up this morning to the stunning news that the President had been awarded the Peace Prize. I congratulate him because I believe he has elevated America again to a position of leadership in the international community.
My commitment as a follower of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, means that I am theologically predisposed to peace here on God’s good earth. Jesus’ encouraging words — “Blessed are the peacemakers” — have more than just a spiritual application. Jesus himself lived in an era in which the Pax Romana came at the end of a Roman spear. I believe he understood well the need for both political and spiritual peace among humankind.
Of course, there are those who will seek to detract from the award to the President. For the skeptics, the naysayers, and the cabal of critics, my question is this — “Why wouldn’t we want to be known as a nation of peacemakers?”
I am reading Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and The Path to War in Vietnam. The thing that strikes me so far in this book is the casual attitude those in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations had toward escalating the war there. If we have learned anything in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan it should be that war does not guarantee peace. I have long contended that one cannot fight for peace. You can fight for a host of other issues, but peace is never achieved by fighting. Peace comes by seeking peace, by peacemaking as the first order of concern.
I realize that many of you may disagree with me, and that is your privilege to do so. But this morning I am heartened at the news that the world recognizes Americans have the capacity to make peace, as well as wage war. What do you think?
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” As followers of Christ, we need to be praying and working for peace. In the midst of a world in which war is often the first resort, we have an obligation to humanity. While we may not be able to bring peace fully and finally, we can work to minimize the destructive inhumanity of war.
In the recent conflict in Georgia, Russia dropped cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are arrayed to scatter destruction like a shotgun blast. Their only purpose is to kill people. Cluster bombs are not the weaponry of choice to take down bridges, buildings, or blow up bunkers. They are people-killers, plain and simple. Turn off your “safe search” and google “cluster bombs” for images that will horrify you — children with legs and arms blown off, corpses reduced to smoldering lumps of flesh. The effect is nauseating.
Amazingly, 107 countries have signed a treaty banning cluster bombs. China, Russian, and the United States are among the leading nations that have not signed the treaty. Click here for a global map identifying countries that have signed the treaty.
What can you do? Learn about the devastation caused by cluster bombs. Several sites provide information. One compelling organization is called Survivor Corps, founded by Jerry White whose leg was blown off by a landmine in 1984. Jerry White is a survivor and has rallied other survivors of landmines and cluster bombs to speak out against their use. Amazingly, the US is not a signatory to even banning landmines. Jerry White was a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and speaks with authority and passion on this subject. His book, I Will Not Be Broken, is must-reading for those interested in being peacemakers in a world where life is cheap, and war is easy. You may be new to this idea of peacemaking on an international scale, but there are steps we can take to make the voice of peace heard across the globe. I hope you’ll take time to click the links, learn about these dangerous, destructive weapons, and add your voice and prayers to the growing call for peace.