Healing the world, peace by peace


When I think of the most basic of all human longings, found in all religious traditions the world over, and especially in the Christian faith, I think about the longing to be at peace with God our Creator and Redeemer, to be at peace with our fellow human beings and to be at peace with our own selves. Making peace in all its forms seems to me to be so fundamental to human flourishing that one would imagine every college and university would claim such a message for itself. And yet, they have not done so. I am so pleased that Goshen College has!

If God’s name is Peace (Judges 6:24), if God’s Son is our Peace (Eph. 2:14), if we worship such a God, and if we put God before everything else, then the scope of our peacemaking must be deep and wide. Making peace can never be just about conflict resolution, reconciliation or reducing evil. Nor can making peace simply be about nonviolence, being anti-this or antithat or trying to stop wars or protesting wrong – as important as those activities are.

Making peace must be about human flourishing, joy, beauty and celebration. The prophet Isaiah dreams of a day when the children of the world will be taught by Rabbi God how to create shalom (great prosperity) for the whole world (Isa. 54:13). Pope John Paul II, sounding a similar refrain, once said, “To reach peace, teach peace.” Philosopher Nicholas Walterstorff called such a vision “educating for shalom.” And Albert Einstein insisted that lasting peace “can only be achieved by understanding. [It] cannot be kept by force.” Prophet, pope, philosopher and scientist – all came to the same conclusion, that the outcome of a good education grounded in faith and core values, the kind we are committed to providing here at Goshen College, should be lasting peace in all its forms. A liberal arts education doesn’t get much better than that.

Making peace means inviting God to be present in our lives, day by day, minute by minute. Making peace means doing good, celebrating accomplishments and competing well. Making peace means discovering new medicines, creating a musical masterpiece, teaching a child to read. Making peace is a warm embrace, the thrill of a kiss, a word of encouragement and a job well done. Making peace, as expressed throughout this issue of the Bulletin, is anything and everything that encourages human flourishing and hope.

We cannot go back to the old “peacenik” days of yesteryear, when the work of peace was too often reduced to a pet list of sanctioned professions, or callings, or issues, or narrow means to the exclusion of other equally powerful peace-making options. A businessperson in a manufacturing company must not be viewed as a second-class peacemaker to a voluntary service worker in some faraway country. An engineer is no less called to make peace than a preacher. A basketball coach who works miracles of heart, motivation, discipline and teamwork may, in fact, outpace a bookish theologian in creating a more peaceful world. The social policy expert in Washington, D.C., is no less a potential peacemaker than the social worker on Skid Row, the politician no less than the mediator, the wonky green economist no less than the radical prophet. Dolores Huerta, the Latina civil rights leader, said in 2008 when she visited campus: “Every person can make a difference, and every minute is a chance to change the world!” I agree.

What matters most? What matters most is a world at peace with God, with each other and with ourselves. At Goshen College, “Healing the World, Peace by Peace” is more than a catchy phrase, a clever slogan; it is a promise to live by, a vocation, a holy calling. So, let there be faithful followers and deep thinkers, soccer games and poetry jams. Let there be movie nights and recycling days. Let there be Goshen College, ever singing, honor to our Master bringing. And, yes, let there be peace on earth!

Also read a special online introduction to the Bulletin from President Brenneman »

4 Responses

  1. It sounds like you are trying to make up for the singing of the star spangled banner at GC. It is ok if GC wants to be mainstream, its just a shame to lose our old distinctive niche. It takes a special place to create an atmosphere where peace purists can prosper and be allowed to shun the ways of the world. If Mennos stop shunning the ways of the world in the unique traditional ways, at least there’s always the Amish.

    Posted by: Alicia Perez
  2. In response to the previous comment, I didn’t know that being a Mennonite was about “shunning the ways of the world.” Where is this written?

    By definition, Mennonites define themselves in two major areas: Pacifism, and antibaptism. Neither of these two stances imply a “shunning” of the world. “Be ye separate,” is a scripture the Amish use as doctrine, but Mennonites are not Amish. I grew up in a Mennonite home, attended a Mennonite church as a teen, and attended Goshen College as a young adult. I love the Lord, and also love my country. I don’t believe love and pride of country has to contradict my love of the Lord. It’s frustrating that this perception exists, as I’ve not read anything biblical to base it on. I applaud GC for allowing the star spangled banner. If the shunning of traditional values at GC is concerning, there are far more prominent issues to address, than the song of our country.

    Posted by: Corbett D. Troyer
  3. I applaud your decision, you know there is a misguided concept today in our youth that love of country somehow diminishes our faith in the Lord, not to be repetitious. I posted because I am a Catholic, my views on the way’s of the Lord are not very much different from any other post’s or potential ones. I too, as a Catholic want to “shun” the ways of our world, cell phones, and all the thing’s that remove family love and values from our society. If I may, and my comment’s will be looked at by many of your faithful perhaps as irrevolant, but we share a common good and our country is one of the few left in the world where we can share our feelings, dismiss our differences, and perpetuate our love of the Lord. I cannot thing of a better place to live. So I ask, despite all the lost lives that brought us here, is it so hard to give an anthem to this wonderful place where all of us still live in peace.

    Posted by: djh
  4. I like the emphasis you give this here; placing the work of peace making out there for all of us to participate in. What I find interesting is the examples you list as possible peace moves. I notice that all of them are management and up: businessperson, sevice worker, coach, engineer,expert, politician etc. Have we forgotten about those who work our factories, who labour on construction and on farms? Is it possible for those “lowly ones” of us to also participate in peace making? Or must we be in blue collar and up to be peacers? You know by now my bias.

    Posted by: John Schlamp