Is raising peacemakers in a violent world even possible? I believe it is. In fact, I believe it’s more than possible. It’s necessary and it is our calling. In a world full of violence, from wars to domestic abuse, we need to become and raise peacemakers in a violent world.
Let’s begin with definitions. A peacemaker does the work necessary to bring about peace. This is different from a peacekeeper, who is focused on maintaining the status quo. On the other hand, peacemakers are willing to do conflict, have hard conversations, and come up with innovative ideas to help warring factions (literally or figuratively) work toward reconciliation. The peacemakers are building a future in which we all can flourish. So let’s raise our children to be peacemakers in a violent world. Here 3 ways to do it.
1. Look in the mirror.
It’s easy to look at the violence of the past and shake our heads in judgment over those who went before us. However, a much better response, in my opinion, is to understand why they made the decisions they made. Then I can ask myself what I would do if that same situation presented itself to me now. What would it require of me?
It’s easy to shake my head in judgment over white folks who remained silent during the Civil Rights era. But if the majority of my neighbors and family members, and even my employer, held a belief strongly that I felt was morally wrong today, would I risk my relationships and perhaps even my well being for what I believed was right, or would I quietly disapprove, but be sure not to rock the boat to ensure my and my family’s security?
We need to help our kids to do more than just know history, but to do the hard work to develop moral courage so we don’t repeat it.
2. Have moral courage.It takes courage to have convictions. It takes even more to live by them.
Of course, this leads into the next need: having moral courage. It takes courage to have convictions. It takes even more to live by them. Therefore we need to prioritize the cultivation of moral courage in our kids.
Here are some ideas: Identify local community organizations working for peace (domestic violence shelters, churches, NAACP chapters) and volunteer along with your child. Teach your children about courageous people who have sacrificed for the sake of others. Help your child take steps to stand up and say something if they see bullying or injustice. Help them know how to stay safe, but not silent.
3. Love your neighbor.
It’s easy to focus on global issues. The harder and, in my opinion, more important work is learning to live at peace with the people next door and under your own roof. How are you teaching and modeling conflict resolution with your neighbors and your family members? Are you practicing hospitality? Are you working to make your home and neighborhood places of peace?
It all starts there. Peace begins at home. It begins with you. None of this is easy, but raising peacemakers isn’t a choice if we want a world where our children cannot just survive but flourish.
Sound off: What are other ways you’re working to raise peacemakers?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s one way that we, as a family, could work for peace in our community?”