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!
In my personal journey the commitment to build a culture of peace is to assume that it implies the Christian faith as a lifestyle. In that sense it is for me a particular way of being in the world as a person and as believer. As a pastor and university professor, building a culture of peace becomes a vital horizon of what should be the Christian ministry as my vocation. Personally, I consider that theological reflection and praxis has to be framed as an essential part of my peacemaking option.
My journey on this path has taught me the predominant role that utopia plays on the scenario of peacemaking. During my childhood and adolescent years I saw the poverty of many and the social injustice. As an adult realized that this experience deeply influenced my conscience and commitment with peace and justice. Since my high school years, I have taken the option toward the struggle for freedom and peacemaking. The historical conditions that propitiated violence at the beginning of my university studies are still perpetuating their multiple manifestations. As a pastor and professor, I think that the cult to “bellicism” which includes economic injustice, the arms trade, militarization, aberrant nationalism, terrorism, accelerated rates of crime, domestic violence, child abuse and cultural phobias still preys on us. That could encourage me to resign my role as a peace activist. It's utopia that rescues me from pessimism and encourages us all to be peacemakers and prophets of hope. My readings at the university and the seminary help me to understand that the “utopia” of peace is embodied in the Kingdom of God and “its justice”.
In the context of Puerto Rico, I remember my participation in peacemaking as a pastor and professor in the struggle to achieve the ouster of the United States Navy from the islands of Culebra and Vieques and in the closure of the naval base located in the city of Ceiba. The campaign against militarism and the war in Vietnam also occupied a significant part of my agenda for a Culture of Peace. Today my peacemaking vocation challenges me to continue struggling against militaristic policies, discrimination in all its forms, and the phenomenon of crime and social violence. The faith agenda today challenges my vision of peacemaking to work toward citizenship diplomacy, genuine economic justice and a new model of the “social contract”.
My passion for building a Culture of Peace continues to pose a challenge to my faith in this moment of history. The gross inequities at local and international levels require all believers to prioritize the church’s mission in terms of an urgent need for a harmonious coexistence, solidarity praxis, mutuality, affirmative action, and hence a reconfiguration of the structure and rationale of church organizations and beliefs.
It is my firm conviction, as a peacemaker, of the imperative needs to provoke a “metanoia” that allows us to redeem the dignity of life to build a new and better world. In this sense the historical moment continues to challenge me to retake the vocation of peacemaking. Prophetic voices are urgently needed to ask for a better way to solve conflicts, for more justice among the world economic order, for a minimum ethical wealth distribution, for racial and gender inclusion, for a more multicultural social profile, for interreligious relations, for a new understanding of ecumenism and for a World Fasting Day for Peace. The vocation for peacemaking means to me to plant unpretentiously, along the way of life, all the seeds I can to advance justice as a fundamental condition for PEACE.
Luis G. Collazo is a retired religion and ethics professor of the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico and pastor in the Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico. He is also a writer and researcher. He is living now in Cayey, Puerto Rico.