I recently attended a faith leaders’ gathering that meets monthly to discuss various justice issues here in Columbus. We are currently focusing on race relations and are working to set up a meeting between members of the group and the Mayor of Columbus. During our recent meeting, our conversation ranged from figuring out meeting logistics, discussing effective messaging, and establishing our meeting goals or desired outcomes. The conversation, however, gently led us to discuss our roles as church leaders and people of faith.
One faith leader brought up the importance of both words and the way in which we identify ourselves. When we go into a meeting or begin a conversation with someone with an opposing view, do we enter the conversation as a “justice warrior” ready to save the day and explain why our solutions are the best for the common good? Perhaps we need to shift our own interpretation of our identity. Working for justice is good, necessary, and our Gospel mandate, but doing so as a “warrior” may be counterproductive.
Are we starting from a position of violence (internal or external) when we enter into conversations or relationships with the idea that we can fix the problem as the warrior for good, as the one fighting the good fight? We know how impactful peace can be in our own lives and in the world, and perhaps we need to approach our work for justice with intentional peace as well. Can we be healers rather than warriors? Can we be peacebuilders for truth and justice rather than fighters for justice?
Entering a space as someone who wants to heal rather than fight allows us to begin with peace and persevere with love as we meet others where they are and work to find common ground. The power words have is important, perhaps now more than ever. In the time of fake news, post-truth, and alternative facts, working, living, and praying as healers, as peacemakers, and as disciples will provide an example of love and solidarity to the world.
How can you heal the world today?