This essay is part of the Vocation of Peacemaking series where we asked members and friends of the BPFNA to write brief essays on their peacemaking work. The Vocation of Peacemaking stories come from students, activists, teachers, parents, pastors, lay people, and retirees who work for peace in their jobs, their communities, their families, their volunteer time, and their neighborhoods in a wide variety of ways. Each story is a wonderful reminder that there are as many ways to live a life of peace as there are people, and that we can act for peace in real and important ways wherever we find ourselves.
We will be publishing the stories one at a time over the next several weeks and then compiling them into an Issue Monograph before the end of 2014. The monograph will be available as a free download from the BPFNA website.
Keep checking the Vocation of Peacemaking webpage for more!
Peace-making is a daily ethical decision for me. It guides my interactions with folks, the way I view myself in the cosmos, and how I interact with the Divine. I often think of peacemaking as a way of life and not a thing to be attained. Creating peace starts with so many small opportunities taken each day, whether that is picking up trash on your walk to work because you care about humanity’s accountability to the earth, or critical reflection of a perceived everyday norm, or starting a community garden with folks in your neighborhood.
It seems like peacemaking can manifest in so many ways. When I first learned more about peacemaking, it was really just putting language to how I already wanted to function in the world. Still, I was slightly intimidated by what I thought it meant to be a peacemaker; this intimidation persisted until I realized that practices like conflict transformation and reconciliation were already happening in my life with everyday situations at work, school, and home. Instead of scrutinizing over all the ins and outs of peacemaking, I took the action and waited to figure out why I was doing it later.
For me this process manifested when I moved into a community house with about 20 other folks (it was more like a community building) who were also divinity students. We learned how to live with each other and thrive in the community through listening well to each other’s needs; we were seeking to live ethically, simply, and kindly. We were peacemaking. We did not make a headline in the local newspaper, but to us, what we were doing was incredibly important. Living in community allowed us to dig our heels into the inertia of our capitalist society and say “no.” We are slowing down, thinking about this, and doing it while we are gathered around a table (likely eating some really, really good bread together). We cooked for each other, laughed with each other, had to ask each other’s forgiveness, commiserated with each other through tough classes, sang hymns with each other and walked each other home. I called it a flavor of peacemaking and when I laid my head on the pillow each night, that was good enough for me.
The small things will be how we change us. They will be how we change our communities. And they will almost always be a way that we change the status quo.
Kate Fields is a 2nd Year at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, where she seeks to juxtapose her biology background with theology. She associates herself with Alliance of Baptist folks and is delighted to share community with the Baptist Peace Fellowship, specifically the Young Adults.