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International Peace Day

21 September 2016 — Mandy Marshall — Blog International Peace Day

What does it take to make peace? - Peace Day 

It's a challenging question isn't it. Most of us want, and have a desire to, live at peace with one another. We wouldn't deliberately create conflict and strife right? Not me. After all, I'm so thoughtful and considerate and caring. But we do and can create conflict. We live in a diverse world with different perspectives, opinions and values to our own. It takes time, effort and real listening to another person's perspective to bring about understanding and ultimate peace. It will also involve the laying down of what 'I' want. Is selfishness at the heart of all conflict? It does form a part of it, even subconsciously. We defend our homes and lifestyles at the detriment of others. We see this most clearly in the way that different governments treat, and respond to, refugees all over the world. Refugees often have little or no power for themselves and are often at the mercy of others generosity, kindness and openness. Or not, as we see in some cases. 

Lifestyle choices, challenges and changes

I remember former US President George H Bush speaking at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. I had just graduated from Portsmouth University with a Geography degree so I was tuned in to this key global summit. Former President Bush Snr words chilled me to the bone. He said, to a prestigious audience of global world leaders, 

'The American lifestyle is not up for negotiation!'

The blatant disregard of the impact of some of our actions on other people's ability to live and sustain life was truly shocking. Surely our 'lifestyle' is up for negotiation if it costs other people their lives and ability to live?

It caused me to reflect on the British culture of 'none of my business'. Is it really 'none of my business' when others are suffering because I choose not to get involved? Do we really think it doesn't impact on me? We are not isolated individuals but live in community with one another. Our neighbourhoods, our workplaces, our sports teams and clubs. We relate to one another in many different ways. What one person does has a ripple effect outwards on those around us. It makes an impact.

Do we shy away from challenging others, and walk on by the other side, when we see abuse or harassment happening to others?

Is peace too costly if it costs my time and disrupts my day?

Hard isn't it. We know the right answer but do we act in accordance with what we believe? In essence, are we authentic?

Peace in the context of Domestic Abuse

The question of 'What does it take to make peace?' becomes difficult in a domestic abuse context with so many power and control issues at play. There is a need to be safe and wise alongside bringing peace. We cannot force people to make peace using scripture as a coercive tool. If we are not careful in the church, we can delude ourselves that our good intentions, backed up with cherry-picking of scripture, will bring about peace, especially in relationships. Restoring relationships is hard work. It can take years and may never result in a restoration of relationship if one of the party doesn't acknowledge, take responsibility for, or face the damage done to the other. Whatever our desire is for good relationships we have to realise that some relationships will never be restored. Safety first is always the highest priority in cases of domestic abuse.

What does it take to make peace? 

An unselfish consideration for the other. The laying down of power and moving forward in the context of love, trust and mutual respect.

What is Peace Day? 

Peace Day was instituted by the United Nations in 2001 and is marked on the 21st September each year. Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley, is the activist who pushed for a day of peace. It aims to encourage peace for the day to show what can be done when the focus is all about peace. Restored is proud to be a part of Peace One Day's Ending Domestic Abuse Coalition. Check out what Peace One Day is doing here www.peaceoneday.org

Can we ask a favour?

Restored was established six years ago to encourage the church and men to take action to end violence against women. We operate on a small staff team of four, three of whom work part time, and a volunteer. We really need people to join the journey with us and enable us to continue what we are doing. Can you give £10 per month, or more if you can afford, to Restored? Please give here thank you.