by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
For the last three weeks, I’ve been traveling through Scotland and England on a national speaking tour about Jesus and peacemaking. This is the second half of my journal account. Read the first part here.
Monday, Sept. 3, Birmingham, England
Tonight, I spoke at St. Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham’s City Centre. “How can we keep on speaking about peace even though we are so widely dismissed by people and ignored by the mainstream media and culture?” someone asked. “How do we communicate with people in the military?” another asked. In my talk about Jesus and peacemaking, I urged people to speak out, to be prophetic voices on behalf of the God of peace, to denounce our war in Afghanistan and pursue the Gospel vision of peace — and to be faithful to the task at hand, no matter what the outcome. We leave the results in God’s hands.
Yes, we may be ignored, dismissed and rejected, but so was Jesus, I said. Why should we expect a different reaction? We need to be rooted in daily prayer, a group or community of like-minded friends, and regular public action for peace. Then we just keep on going forward, doing what we can modestly for peace and justice.
I urged them to think of their own heroic abolitionists — William Wilberforce, John and Thomas Clarkson, and the Quakers — who worked so tirelessly for an impossible goal, the abolition of slavery. They spoke out and persevered. Our challenge is even greater — to work for the abolition of war, poverty and nuclear weapons. We have to keep speaking out and building a new global movement for peace whose results we might not live to see.
Whenever I meet people in the U.S. who are in the military, young people interested in entering the military or people who work at military bases or nuclear weapons installations, I always ask them to not to join the military, to quit the military, to quit their jobs building weapons, I continued. We need to urge everyone to leave the culture of war and find life-giving work. This is what Archbishop Oscar Romero did. He was always calling upon people to leave the death squads and the elite culture. “Be converted to the Gospel,” he told people. Few did, and eventually they killed him, but he was faithful and did what he could, and his death planted the seeds for peace that continue to reverberate around the world…