The New Year marks both a day of peace and a desire for the fruits of efforts for peace during the year to come.

I have a carnation-colored T-shirt that I have worn for years that says, Paz con Justicia, or “Peace with Justice.”  The message is there is no lasting peace without justice, without the righting of relationships, the breaking of the yoke of oppression, and the repairing of the breach caused by societal inequities.  When these occur then the fullness of peace, or shalom in the city, might shine brightly amidst, through, and beyond the shadows of “dishumanity”.

I honor all who make peacemaking a vocation.  This work so often takes the form of resistance to the dominant culture and the practice of creative, power-sharing community.  This work serves as a prophetic alternative to the normalization and glorification of violence, greed, and hate.  More often than not, efforts at peacemaking lead to persecution, humiliation, rejection, and ridicule.

The New Year suggests that a path to collective liberation that embraces peace is possible.  While the last 60 years has seen numerous opportunities to witness against the lies of war, we are reminded that constructing a peace with justice must take into account the tentacles of war in everyday life.

The war on the poor, for example.  The displacement that leads to lack of housing, the inaccessibility of nutritious food, the inadequate health care, and the lack of opportunities for living wage jobs are part of this war.

The war on immigrants and refugees, too.  No access to asylum, the denying of due process, the crates, fences, National Guard, and the failure to aid refugees, even from “allies”, is appalling.

Finally, the war on BIPOC communities where freedom and justice are systematically excluded from many lives.  While many dominant culture people speak the words that Black Lives Matter, much less often does it lead to action: the consistent, necessary repair work that comes with dismantling white supremacy in ourselves, our organizations, and our institutions.

To use the word “war” in these contexts is evocative.  It is meant to evoke a disturbance or, in the words of the spiritual, a “troubling of the waters,” which reminds us of our own power and a power beyond ourselves.

If I am on the side of peace, I must counter the forces that diminish and tear apart.  Pursuing the cause of peace leads to transformative change within and without.  We cannot use the war-waging “master’s tools” to sustain a new way of being and doing in the world around us.

Language of war, finally, draws out response-ability to collaborate with one another – respecting the “dignity of difference” – and to be honest about our own complicities.  When we put on the lens of peace, the respect for the inherent worth and dignity of each and all grows and expands.

The wars mentioned here are not inevitable. Peace with power shared may yet prevail again on Earth, in 2023 and beyond, depending on our audacity to break down our borders – however they exist – and to take small steps wherever we are to uphold and affirm our shared humanity as sacred purpose.

Blessings of abundance and joy as we live, learn, grow, and construct peace with justice together in 2023!

Michael

Don’t forget! There’s still time this year to join your neighbors in building concrete systemic solutions to injustice;

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