We are completing a year in which there have been all too many deaths from acts of violence in our country and throughout the world. Some incidents happened on the spur of the moment. Others were the result of premeditation intended to make a political statement or to hold the world hostage.
These words of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 54) come to mind for me in light of such events: "You shall be established through righteousness/justice. You shall be safe from oppression, and shall have no fear. You shall be protected from ruin, and it shall not come near you." The passage itself declares divine providence over those who follow God's teachings. I would take its meaning to another level. When we create a context in which people act towards one another based on fairness, respect and concern for everyone, there will no longer be oppression. There will be nothing to make us afraid, because people will find a way to resolve differences through words rather than weapons.
Is such a world a dream? Perhaps, but it offers a preferable alternative to a world in which violent acts take innocent lives all too often. The passage from Isaiah (chapter 54) also declares, "Great will be the peace of your children." What can we do to promote peace and well-being? We can offer comfort to those who have lost family members and friends to violence and conflict. We can support all those who keep the peace and make peace. We can learn more about our respective backgrounds and listen to each other's stories. We can approach one another based on a trust that recognizes our common humanity. We can teach people how to resolve disputes, even small ones, in a spirit of cooperation and compromise. We can recognize that, as members of the human family, we are traveling along the same road. The peace of our children will be great only if we walk that path together.