Father John Dear just wrote another thought provoking column in the National Catholic Reporter Online. If you haven't read Father Dear's column (On the Road to Peace) before - and don't forget Sr. Joan Chittister's From Where I Stand or Bishop Gumbleton's Peace Pulpit, also at NCR Online - I highly recommend it. I get nourishing food for the journey every time I read the words of this dedicated peacemaker.
I had just been working on plans for my participation in the upcoming United Nations International Day of Peace (September 21) when I read Fr. Dear's column, and his discussion of Jim McGinnis, who died recently, helped me focus inwards regarding the daunting task of peacemaking in this violent world. Among Jim's many achievements is a Pledge of Nonviolence that he developed for young people and families; but it is a pledge to which everyone can commit because, after all, nonviolence and peacemaking is something each of us develops and brings to the world.
Here is Jim's Pledge; I have changed it to first person, singular for those in non-family circumstances (you can click here for the Family version). I plan to take one point each day (before September 21) and contemplate how I can apply it in my life every day, and then work to apply it in my home, in my community and in the greater world. It is my hope that through this discipline I will prepare myself to be present in the proper spirit not only on the International Day of Peace, but in every day of my life.
Pledge of Nonviolence
Making peace must start within ourselves and in our family. I commit myself as best I can to become a nonviolent and peaceable person:
To Respect Self and Others: To respect myself, to affirm others, and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.
To Communicate Better: To share my feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.
To Listen: To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others' feelings and needs rather than insist on having my own way.
To Forgive: To apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges.
To Respect Nature: To treat the environment and all living things, including my pets, with respect and care.
To Play Creatively: To select entertainment and toys that support my family's values and to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny or acceptable.
To Be Courageous:To challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.
This is my pledge. These are my goals. I will check myself on what I have pledged once a month so that I can help others become peaceable people."
You can find the unedited Family Pledge of Nonviolence and other resources at the Institute for Justice and Peace (co-founded in 1970 by Jim McGinnis, and originally called the Institute for the Study of Peace).