From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PEACEMAKING MUST BECOME NATIONAL PRIORITY,
05 May 1996 08:38:16
95294 PEACEMAKING MUST BECOME NATIONAL PRIORITY,
NOT JUST CHURCH'S CALLING, VETERAN DIPLOMAT SAYS
by Jerry L. Van Marter
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.--It is the Christian duty of every Presbyterian to so
dramatize the denomination's commitment to peacemaking that it becomes the
calling not just of the church, but of the nation, a veteran diplomat and
Presbyterian elder told the Presbyterian Peacemaking Jubilee here Aug. 14.
Harold Saunders, a key member of the U.S. diplomatic team that
brokered the Camp David accords, which brought peace between Israel and
Egypt and eventually to the rest of the Arab world, said the changing
nature of international relations means citizens and nongovernmental
organizations have a much more crucial role to play in solving
The growth of the global economy and burgeoning democracy movements
all over the world has produced a world order "in which governments
increasingly face problems they cannot deal with alone," Saunders noted.
As a result, he continued, citizens and organizations outside
government "play an increasing role both inside their countries and
globally." Living through this "fundamental change" has created the need
to create a new international paradigm "that describes the process of
continuous interaction across the entire body politic," Saunders added.
"The sovereign state is still central on the global stage," he said,
"but the human element is ascending as states are pulled apart by their own
citizens -- military forces are no longer able to redraw the political
Ethnic and religious conflicts in the world have created an
unprecedented global security situation in which "conflict is not as much
between nations as it is between human beings." With governments pushed to
the margins in so many places, the new global paradigm "must recognize the
reality of extragovernment and citizen involvement in the solutions to our
Saunders called this paradigm "the public peace process." And in the
ferment of this evolving paradigm, he said, "the churches have the
responsibility to raise the practical question [as to] whether and how
Americans see peacemaking as an organizing principle for the new world
Saunders admitted that there are those who will call such ideas
"softheaded." However, he continued, "material power and wealth have
simply not worked." Peacemakers must acknowledge that there is evil in the
world, he said, "but while material power may be necessary, there is a
better way to conduct human affairs."
Empowering citizens to participate in the public peace process
requires educating them about issues of peace, justice and international
security and persuading governments to build new partnerships with
citizens and nongovernmental organizations. "The goal in our country
should be to build a new U.S. policy rather than a U.S. government policy,"
"By God's grace we are free to work with all people who work for peace
-- to deny our calling is to deny God's plan for creation," Saunders said.
"So take peace in your hands and plant it firmly but gently ... in the soil
of a new civil, global society."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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