I recently joined with about 30 others to hold vigil for peace on the grounds of Rome City Hall. While the vigil was planned in response to recent actions by the United States against Iran, it was about more than that. I can’t speak on behalf of those who attended the vigil. My thoughts are my own.
I gathered longing for the biblical vision of God’s kingdom where we will beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks; where nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3).
I believe strongly in the power of peace. I believe those who call themselves Christians are to be people of peace and love. It is in our scriptures and the writings of our mothers and fathers in faith. The Christian movement in its first 300 years was a pacifist movement, following the non-violent ways of Jesus. My own denomination’s social principles state that war is “incompatible with Christian teaching” (United Methodist Social Principles, ¶165.C).
I am 35 years old. The United States has been at war in some way, shape, or form nearly all of my life. My son just turned 14. He has only known a nation at war. The US is in a state of endless war. I say no more. We cannot afford endless war. The money we spend on these never-ending battles is taken away from the hungry, the homeless, our children’s education, our own healthcare, our environment, and so on. We cannot afford a war-ravaged world. War stems from a lack of creativity. War takes no imagination. War kills trust. War increases bitter divides among the human family. We cannot afford to keep stockpiling and maintaining weapons, including the world’s ever-growing collection of nuclear weapons. We are certainly prepared for our mutually assured destruction.
We must reverse course. We must dream with new imaginations. We must put down our arms of war and open wide our arms for love. We must seek to live a life of love. We must stop seeing the “other” as an enemy or an object of our hate and start seeing them as our sibling. We must train one another and the coming generations in the ways of peace and conflict transformation with as much if not more vigor than train for war. Peace on earth begins with us.
— Rev. Brian Lothridge, Rome