Posted by: owizblog | April 29, 2018

Silence, Peace and the Building of Peace: Thought for the Day, BBC Radio Scotland, 26 April 2018

Compared with others, we Presbyterians cram our worship with words. Silence spooks us. And if silence does that, it also makes you hyper-aware. The Minister says “And now we pray in the holy silence…” and a dog starts barking, or a siren goes by, or the central heating makes funny noises, and then people can get the giggles… Holy silence? Aye, right…

It’s awkward, we’re awkward – but it fairly teaches you the distinction between silence, and peace! Silence is just the absence of noise. Peace is communion with all that is, in God. A barking dog won’t disturb that.

For two days, the United Nations General Assembly has been discussing “peace-building and sustaining peace.”  The UN is vastly, sometimes grotesquely, imperfect, we know. In some circles, a sort of slick, sophisticated distain is de rigeur. So was this just a bunch of talking-head politicos trying to talk about peace by talking over it?

Yet the UN is still a forum in which leaders can express vision, aspiration, and, yes, honest dismay about what, as a human race, we keep doing to each other, and our planet.  Irish President Michael Higgins warned yesterday that we mustn’t see humanitarian actions as “sufficient responses to crises that are political in their origin. Humanitarian action is not a substitute for political dialogue and mediation.”

In other words, we can’t tackle the wounds of the world by applying sticking-plasters once they’ve been inflicted. We need to build peace so that people won’t wound each other in the first place, and address the deep issues: who we are as a divided humanity, how we live as a dysfunctional human family. We must disregard the noise, to seek and find peace.

Christian thought sees a perpetual tension between the peace  which God gives, and the peace we hope for in the world, which God calls us to build, and rebuild every time it’s knocked down. Blessed are the peace-builders, says Jesus, who are so intent on peace, that the noise doesn’t distract them. If that’s what the UN were seeking yesterday, God bless them.

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