It finally clicked in my brain — why this idea of Christian peacemaking just doesn’t do it for me.
The sermons started the week after the election, and I didn’t hear just one. I heard many sermons — in churches, in coffee shops, on Facebook — saying now is the time for us Christians to foster shalom. Blessed are the peacekeepers, and all that.
And I wanted to fall in love with this idea because — I mean, who wouldn’t? It sounds nice and righteous. Very holy. It sounds exactly like something I should want to do, based on me being a Jesus Freak and all.
But it stuck in my throat like stale angel food cake — dry, crumbly, jagged. It just wouldn’t go down.
But I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, fostering shalom sounds awesome. Being a peacemaker is obviously all about God. And don’t I want to be all about God? What the heck is up with me? Why am I being such an asshole about this? I said to myself in places like the shower, in my car, in my prayers.
This is the way my brain works sometimes — it takes time to synthesize, and often the a-ha moment comes when I’m talking things out with one of my BFF’s. Which is exactly when this a-ha moment happened.
And here it is: the peace I’m being asked to make, and the peace I’m being asked to keep, is a decidedly white and privileged peace.
When my Facebook friends tell me to “stop ranting“, to get over it, because now is the time we all have to work together, I can be pretty sure that these are not my friends who have bi-racial, black or Hispanic children, or who are gay, or who are maybe Muslim.
When pastors tell me to not use my platform to promote my views on social justice, my guess is that maybe they haven’t spoken to my friend who is a lawyer who happens to have dreadlocks and worried about whether his seven year old daughter would soon be fatherless when he got pulled over the other day.
When people tell me not to worry about Steven Bannon’s influence over our president-elect, I’m fairly certain that they didn’t have grandparents who had numbers tattooed onto their arms.
And the list goes on and on.
The peace these folks want me to keep is not really peace at all. What they want is for me to keep silent. To keep the status quo. To not shatter the comfortable illusion they’ve created for themselves that says because they have a few black friends, everything is okay for black people everywhere. Or that because they aren’t Nazis, a holocaust can’t happen here. Or because they never had to worry about whether they could legally marry the person they love, people who can’t should maybe just shut up about it.
Here’s the thing about peacemaking and peacekeeping: it’s not really peaceful until everyone experiences peace.
Peacemaking is great. But Godly peacekeeping often includes the turning over of some nice, privileged tables in the temple. Sometimes it means peaceful protest. Sometimes it means creating an uncomfortable moment for a few in an effort to create a lifetime of peace for all.
And trust me when I tell you it would be easier for me — for us, because I know I’m not the only one — to stay silent. I know many white moms of black kids who must advocate every. Single. Day for their children. Some of these women are moms through adoption or fostering; others are in relationships with people of a different race and have bi-racial kids. I have friends who are gay, who are black, who are Muslim. And none of them feel safe. None of them feel very peaceful at all right now.
So if I’m going to call myself a peacekeeper, I better be damn sure I’m doing something to help everyone experience shalom.
And that, my friends, is not about staying silent just to keep the peace.
I’ve been spending a lot of time this Advent season in quiet and a state of pause, which no doubt did help this thought synthesize in my brain. It also helped me realize that a lot of us peacekeepers for justice need to take a breath, because this work can be downright exhausting. I’m creating a website called PauseLifestyle that will help you do just that. It’ll be up soon, but if you want, pop over to the landing page now. If you want to Pause with me, click the button. I’ll send you a little note and 5 Tips on How To Be A Peacekeeper for Justice, and when the site’s ready, I’ll let you know that as well.