There are a number of reason why I’ve been thinking about peace lately.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is facing severe financial problems. As a result, the long term Iowa Peacebuilding program is being terminated, so available resources can be used for AFSC’s other major program in the Midwest, which is work on immigration issues, including providing legal services.
I spoke with AFSC’s Midwest Director, Brant Rosen, about this yesterday. I’m the clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee, and know Iowa Friends are disappointed about this. But I agree with Brant, who said the anti-war paradigm of the past just doesn’t work today. Our military forces are spread throughout the world, and the United States seems to intervene wherever a threat is perceived to exist.
On the other hand, AFSC sees the immediate impact on people’s lives when working on immigration issues. This is an example of accompaniment (more below).
Friends often refer to their work in these areas as “peace and social concerns”, the two being closely connected. I believe, and Brant said this yesterday, that addressing social concerns is peace building.
We are nearing the completion of our first year of implementing the Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM) program at North Meadow Friends. QSCM is a new program from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) that provides a framework for faith based peace and social justice work. The emphasis is on accompaniment, which is to become involved with a community that is experiencing injustice(s) now, in order to learn from them what the problems are, and what they need to address those problems. And to evaluate how things are going from a spiritual perspective. I’ve written of our developing connections with the Kheprw Institute (KI), a small group who have been mentoring youth for over a decade in an economically depressed inner city neighborhood of Indianapolis. I believe this is peacebuilding.
I recently reposted a Call to Peacebuilding that was written shortly after the events in Ferguson, Missouri, that discusses this more.
This Sunday evening I’m speaking at the annual meeting of the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center. The topic is open ended, so I’ve been wondering what to say to people who are involved in peace and justice work.
Once again I turned to mind maps, to try to sort out these relationships between peace and social justice. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. Basically, it seems peace begins with oneself. There are internal and external factors that influence how we feel about peace, which determines our worldview. Our worldview determines what we do, how we translate what we feel about peace into some kind of action.
Building peace basically comes down to building the Beloved Community with those impacted by injustice.
PDF of the following available here.