I’ve been asked if I’m concerned. Of course I am. Just because I have faith in the hereafter doesn’t mean I care nothing about the here and now. I have sons, and I concern myself with the world they will inherit. I don’t talk about their potential suffering as some badge of honor for me. If I think suffering for the faith is a virtue, then there are plenty of opportunities for me to suffer for the faith. I needn’t set the stage for my kids to do what I never did.
Same with world matters. I’ve said I’m concerned about the world, and have been for some time. There are always reasons to be concerned. It’s not like all of this suddenly erupted on January 20th. We’ve been watching the Korean issue come to a head for decades. Our deteriorating relations with Russia have been going on for some time. Likewise China. And let’s not forget that little thing called the emergent Islamic world. Any of these and more could spiral out of control.
These things have been dealt with differently over the decades. Issues like Korea obviously haven’t been dealt with well, or we wouldn’t be here today. Just what will happen, I don’t know. Some say it’s merely saber rattling. But such saber rattling could lead to serious wounds. The cause of warfare over the ages is a varied thing. And the sabers today do more damage.
So I’m certainly praying for peace and for cooler heads to prevail. Not just to avoid conflict now, but to finally do something to stop the march toward inevitable conflict that has been going on for decades.
On the other hand, I also pray for the rhetoric to change. Whether it’s Kim Jong-il, Donald Trump and his supporters, or Trump’s critics. Provocation can come from many places. Cooler heads across the board would be nice.
With that said, I’m also leery about getting too frightened. Again, not because I’m so heavenly focused I’m no earthly good. It’s practical. I remember the same alarmism and hysteria in the early 80s. Nuclear annihilation was inevitable. Reagan would provoke the USSR, we would have war, it would escalate, and we were doomed. As I explain to my boys, that wasn’t the result of social media or Facebook or Twitter. That wasn’t some schmuck sitting at his computer desk in the basement throwing out conspiracy theories. Those were professionals in three piece suits writing op-eds for Newsweek, US News and World Report and The New York Times. Hearing doom was at hand from such respectable quarters carried punch.
It’s worth noting that, by 1984, seeing we hadn’t been nuked also carried punch. I became wary of politically charged rhetoric. Oh, it happens. It’s part of politics. In some cases, it can be careless and stoke fires that don’t need to be stoked. Sometimes it warns us in ways that calm debate doesn’t do. But just because someone says the sky is falling doesn’t mean I’m ready to run for cover.
All of this is to say of course I’m concerned. I’m concerned for my loved ones and me and for all the innocents of the world. I’m also worried that politically charged, or expedient, fear could push us to where we don’t want to be. To that end, I can do all a person in my lowly position can do, and that’s pray for peace. And pray that those in actual positions of power will be peacemakers, as we all should be.
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we and all men were created.
A Prayer for World Peace, 1978