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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Communion Table Redux

What is your favorite anti-war slogan: (a) “Peace is disarming”? (b) “Arms are for hugging, not war”? (c) “One nuclear bomb could ruin your whole day”? (d) “Make love not war”? (e) “Beat your plowshares into swords/and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, ‘I am strong!’” [Joel 3:1] (f) Other? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1063).

Peace is difficult to discuss because it is filled with paradox. For example, choice (e) above is arguably the surest path to peace – peace through strength. I have engaged in this approach recently myself when I acquired a security system for my home. I considered the anxiety and stress and near despair that I would experience if I returned home from work and found my house had been plundered of everything even appliances. I could imagine myself trying to recover and trying to feel once more good about my neighborhood. To avoid this nightmare, I decided it was irresponsible not to get a security system.

But I also strongly identify with those who plead “Give peace a chance.” In my opinion we don’t follow this approach often enough. I sometimes feel that humanity broadly is very analogous to the home environment in which a parent yearns to simply say to the children: “You must resolve this without fighting or you’ll all be punished severely.” I know this is kind of an Alice in Wonderland thought, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would occur in terms of individual and organizational behavior if some powerful perhaps extraterrestrial third-party simply laid down the law that war would henceforth be absolutely prohibited. All disputes must be resolved in some other way. Fresh thinking and creativity would arise to meet the challenge. But, knowing what I do about human behavior, I would have to advise that powerful third-party to have plenty of jail space available for those violating their prohibition.

The best answer to all this is simply if all would agree to abide by the disarming sentiment expressed here: “Okay now, let’s all get along.” The problem is that this expression too often has no mutual motive force behind it with ownership shared by all. With this challenge in mind, I envision a homely visual in which commonality is achieved. My favorite anti-war slogan is: “LET’S ORDER OUT FOR PIZZA!” In my view, if there could be a cozy kitchen table for all to gather round regularly to share pizza in community and celebration, great things would happen. All we have to do is to spell out how this image of principle translates when extensively applied within human affairs. Human experience is deeply exasperating because this vision discounts the impact of two troubling eventualities—some would not be at the table out of recalcitrant choice and others due to exclusion and neglect.

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