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Making peace, one cup at a time

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

“All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” — John Lennon, songwriter.

I must confess 1) I was around when the Beatles were popular, 2) I liked the fresh, upbeat music John Lennon and Paul McCartney often wrote and that 3) I felt sad when they broke up. The fact they led armies of young people into mind-blowing drugs, destructive sex and into the dreamy, confused, thinking of the East tempers my feelings somewhat.

Making peace is simple; simple to figure out if not simple to do. It is found in scripture in the book of Isaiah — 32:17 “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

I am thinking about the subject of making peace over a cup of coffee as I am in the Bible’s wisdom scriptures this morning. The book of Proverbs is God’s advice column and it is quite helpful with life’s complex issues. My verse for this morning is Proverbs 10:10 “He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow, but a prattling fool shall fall (KJV),” but some scholars feel the second part of this verse is better rendered this way: “but he who makes a man see his errors is a cause of peace.”

This term “wink” means to signal one’s partners in a well thought out plan to deceive (Proverbs 6:13, Psalms 35:19). The idea is if you see the signal, you might avoid the sorrow, the dog that bites not always being the dog that barks. Facing this practice head on, making the one that winks “see” the wrong they do seems to answer the first idea of trying to harm someone with an eye signal.

We all want to excuse ourselves for the evil we do, but damn it in someone else. I am tempted to write my own rules for living so I can declare myself the winner, but things get more peaceful when I find those basic rules of fair play and stick to them. Among the major faiths of the world, it is striking how often they agree on the subject of right and wrong. Christian and Jewish scriptures are clear the way to peace is by doing right. This may mean we confront evil, in ourselves and others, and even create conflict in the short term to achieve peace in the long term.

Beatle John stood at the head of a movement that spoke out against the war in Vietnam. Vietnam was a war so badly run U.S. armed forces cite it as its best example of what not to do. We didn’t miss a trick on that one. John saw himself as a gentle lover of peace, standing opposed to those who he saw as loving war.

Contrast him with Gen. George C. Marshall, the “Organizer of World War II” and the man Harry Truman chose to help rebuild Europe. In 1947, the Allies had finished forcing the Germans to see the crimes they had done under the Nazis. Europe was close to starving, as the basic fabric of commerce had been destroyed. Rather than walk away from Europe or punish Germany further, this modest soldier and statesman proposed the European Recovery Program or the “Marshall Plan.” It worked with friend and former foe alike to get the engines of trade moving again. It was the right thing to do. It started with sending supplies, then getting food from the farms to the cities, clearing roads, building bridges. Then it went on to invest in Europe’s industries and to ease long-held road blocks to free trade. Western Europe revived, NATO was formed and this led to the European Union of today. Sixty nine years of peace in this troubled part of the world with no end in sight is a very good thing.

Soldier and healer, he gave peace a real chance.

This story was posted on May 8, 2014.