Wes and I have been working through Jean Vanier’s book, “Finding Peace” in our staff devotions. I love this little book and have prayed through it many times. Vanier’s context is working with adults who are intellectually and physically differently abled. This is quite distinct from the arena of faith and sexuality and those who find themselves outside the majority status of gender and sexual orientation. However, his insights about humanity, about finding peace in the midst of difference, are universal and often deeply inspiring as we seek to go about our work through New Direction.
Vanier says, “The world is divided into many thousands of more or less hermetically closed groups. If each group is sure that it is better than others, how will peace ever come? It is difficult to dialogue with others if we cling arrogantly to the idea that we are right or that our power and technology are a sign of our humanity and goodness. Walls and barriers exist between people because of language, but also because of fear – each group fearful of those who are different, fearful of losing its identity. People resist opening up to others. Aren’t we all in one way or another enclosed in a secure group, in our culture, our religion, our family, our network of friends? Family and different types of groups are needed for human growth, but when they become sealed they engender rivalry, conflict, elitism.”
Yesterday, I quietly prayed and lamented a world that became more entrenched in its polarization. How do prophets of peace speak into the madness of boycott and counter-appreciation events? How does a peace-maker respond to the reality of pain and anger and reductionism on both ends of the spectrum?