This editorial written by Bishop John Arnold originally appeared in the September 2014 edition of the Westminster Record, the newspaper for the Diocese of Westminster.
The international news of the last month has been heartrending. The cameras have shown us daily the suffering and anguish of innocent people drawn into conflicts not of their making. Indeed, they long to live in peace. For those who could bear to search for it, the Internet brought images of savagery. The claims of politicians to justify their actions seem so very remote from the daily tragedies that destroy homes, displace people and claim lives. While the “news” has been most often about Iraq, there have been reports which remind us of the precarious situation in Ukraine. Almost entirely gone are the reports of the continuing destruction and bloodshed in Syria where over nine million people are displaced and the conflict now extends from months into years; and we hear little or nothing of the more than two hundred Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted months ago. The list goes on. There have always been war and conflict, but it seems cruelly and particularly ironic that our world should be witnessing so much conflict just as we commemorate a centenary of the “War to end all wars”.
Modern communication brings this all very close to home yet we feel powerless to do anything. Decisions lie with governments and politicians, we may think. That is not entirely true, though, for ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’. The very foundation of Christ’s teaching calls us to build, promote and encourage peace. That must begin with us and in the details of our own lives, to the extent that we can be and are responsible. We may seem to be all too small and insignificant and our individual lives irrelevant in the vast scale of conflict, but our individual contributions to peace-building are a vital ingredient, a yeast that can have consequences beyond our imagining.
Our world stands in dire need of peace. To whatever small degree you and I can contribute to that fabric of peace, we can be part of a process of change. We preach peace by actions rather than by words. As Christians, we bear the name of Christ, who is our peace. We begin by being at peace within ourselves, then with those around us. May each one of us learn to banish all forms of violence, in word or deed, from our lives and, by our actions, may we assist others to do the same.
The paper in full can be read here.