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Be the Light

I’m pretty good at fooling myself. I don’t want to grow or change in ways that hurt. More often than I’d care to admit, I prefer a happy lie to the sorrowful truth.

And that’s understandable. Reality can be tough to deal with.

Sometimes, I look around me and all I see is darkness. I see the ways we hurt one another, our selfishness and pride. I don’t just see it in other people; it’s me too. I’m no different.

I’m seeing that ocean of darkness George Fox talked about. Sometimes, I feel like the world around me is flooded by it. It can be hard to breathe. I’m drowning in it.

When the darkness is so thick, it’s difficult to believe that there’s anything else.

As tough as it is to look at my own fallen condition, and that of others, I can’t look away. I can’t pretend that I don’t see. I can’t settle for the happy lies anymore.

This is really happening. This is who we are.

And there’s hope in that. Because though we’re standing in a dark place right now, we’re not without a flashlight. The darkness does not have to be our fate. The very yearning of my heart tells me that we were made for more.

As hard as this is, as much as it hurts, I want to embrace the struggle. I want to come into the light, even if it burns. And I want to bring others with me.

I know I can’t do this on my own. But there is a power at work in me – in all of us – that can and will do this thing. As broken as our world is, I know that Jesus can heal it. Not because I said so, not because it’s written in a book, but because he’s alive and at work in the world today. He’s being the light in this darkness.

I want to be light, too.

When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition”; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. – George Fox, Journal

Related Posts:

Letting the Light In

Giving Birth to the Light

  • The Theory of Active Peace

    — by John Wilmerding (January 4, 2009)

    Presented here, for comment and discussion, are the five developmental stages toward Active Peace.

    [0. ‘Surface’ — conformity without question. Unconsciousness, unawareness, denial, or opposition to issues of social conscience involving violence, oppression, subjugation.]

    1. ‘Aquiescence’ — You know there is something wrong, but take no action, or it doesn’t affect how you live your life. Your response is to remain ‘quiet’ to others and within yourself. “Things have always been this way … there is nothing that I or anyone else can do to change them.”

    2. ‘Pacifism’ — You are no longer quiet within yourself. Your discomfiture with violence, oppression, etc. begins to affect how you live your life. You might turn the other cheek in a fight, for example. You are likely to witness to others (and to yourself) that organized violence and oppression is wrong.

    3. ‘Passive Nonviolent Resistance’ — Many or all of your private decisions become influenced or governed by conscience. ‘Conscientious objection’. You make changes in your own behavior by reasons of conscience but are not necessarily social about it, or don’t publicly, systematically cite your actions or your reasons for them. It’s also akin to the concept of ‘standing aside’ or of ‘abstaining’ on a vote.

    4. ‘Active Nonviolent Resistance’ — You take social leadership in attempting to thwart the forces of violence, oppression, and subjugation, or join with others who do, publicly, and attempting to spread the word about the initiative and get others to take part. ‘Standing In The Way’.

    5. The triad of ‘Active Peace’:

    5A. ‘Peacemaking’ — the transformation of conflicts away from violence, oppression, and subjugation by social and political means. Mediation, conferencing, circles peacemaking, and kindred ‘encounter’ forms. ‘Workshop’ methods such as AVP can also be effective. There are hybrid forms (encounter/workshop) such as HROC, a spinoff of AVP in Rwanda.

    5B. ‘Peacekeeping’ — Nonviolent Accompaniment. Need not be organized or public in its motivations, but is more effective when it is done publicly, and the reasons are publicized. [Not what the UN does with guns and uniforms, though they call it that.] Most well-know exemplars are Nonviolent Peaceforce, the proposed Canadian Civilian Peace Service, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Muslim Peacemaker Teams. “Why are the missiles called peacekeepers when they’re aimed to kill?” — Tracy Chapman

    5C. ‘Peacebuilding’ — Sustainable Development — providing for human needs so that the associated conflicts involving sustaining life (land, water, food, health care, etc.) are ameliorated or eliminated. Fair Trade as opposed to ‘”free trade”. Local economic initiatives. Local alternative currencies. Barter economies. ‘Organic’ agriculture. Methods of redistribution of wealth, including economic stimuli, may be useful on the way to more synergistic outcomes where the weal is more naturally held and distributed in common.

    One interesting aspect of the five-stages theory seems to be that the next one only becomes visible or understandable to you once you have attained the one before. In this way, each stage represents a ‘perspective’, both individual and social, and social ‘organisms’ can be said to progress through the stages as well as individual ones.

    Another dynamic is that, for various psychological reasons I won’t go into here, people or social groups can vary in how they move through the stages, and sometimes regress. However, my understanding is that one one has a firm purchase on a stage, retrogression becomes much more unlikely. Human beings and social organizations are very complex, however, so there is still much more to learn about how to bring everyone into higher stages. Education about these things is both inevitable and necessary.

    Of the five stages, only Active Peace — stage V — can accurately be interpreted as ‘the ocean of light flowing over the ocean of darkness.’

    Congratulations and acknowledgements go out to Gray Cox for first writing about Active Peace, and to Johan Galtung for his work in refining the development of the triadic theory — peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding. Thanks also to our colleague Howard Richards for his conceptual and theoretical treatise on Peacemaking, and his many other wonderful writings.

    Incidentally, many peace studies and conflict transformation programs throughout the world use these ‘triadic’ terms interchangably, and therefore inaccurately and misleadingly. Of those who do, the ones most likely to do so are those influenced by governmental or corporatist entities and agents.

    It is crucial that these terminologies be used accurately and consistently in order that humanity as a whole might progress toward Active Peace — or alternatively (as some see it) recover Active Peace as our natural state.