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The path to international peace PDF Print E-mail

21 September 2014: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

For me to live is Christ

International Day of Peace 2014Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.  The following is a reflection by Fr Andrew Hamilton sj:


When we look around the world at what is happening in Syria, Iraq, The Ukraine, Gaza and so many other places, the International Day of Peace sounds too big to handle. International Peace sounds a large, wieldy and impossible hope.

But as we see it from Jesuit Social Services, if you want to think International you must begin Local. Many of the disadvantaged people we meet carry the shrapnel of international conflicts in their memories and sometimes in their bodies. Some have fled the violence in their own nations and have sought protection in Australia. We meet the more fortunate who came to Australia in a more generous time and help them to deal with their memories, to connect peacefully and happily with people from other nations, and to explore the customs and services that are foreign to them. We walk, too, with those who desperately seek protection but have little hope of finding it.

In their lives we can see the small steps that need to be walked on the path to International peace. The struggle between building peace and settling for war always begins in the human heart. The people who have suffered traumatic experiences whom we meet try to be freed from constant preoccupation with what has happened to them and their families. Unless they can find inner peace their turmoil will affect their family relationships, and condemn their children to conflict in their own lives. But to be free they need to find peacemakers who can help them to make and to find peace. In Australia, too, immigrants from nations torn by war meet people from nations and groups which were their enemies. They now meet one another as fellow citizens in a new land. To build accepting relationships and peace with their former enemies they must learn to let go of their fears, and have an opportunity to meet them as human beings, not as wearing the badge of their national origins.

If we are to work for international peace, too, we must insist that our own nation acts ethically as a decent international citizen. It must be exemplary in treating decently its own disadvantaged citizens, and then act decently to those from other nations. The root of division, prejudice and alienation are found in poverty and deprivation, particularly when these affect an underclass in a wealthy society. Poverty and deprivation are also the fuel of international conflict. So if we want peace abroad we must be the voice for justice at home.

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