Eric Dishongh, PhD
Connecting others to Jesus and His church as a husband, dad, minister, counselor, professor and friend
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I was invited today (February 6, 2013) to speak on the topic of “World Peace” at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish. Here is the transcript of that speech…
Good afternoon. I've been asked to speak today on the topic of world peace.
The program committee initially thought they could get Metta World Peace, aka Ron Artest, from the Los Angeles Lakers. But, his one game suspension for fighting was for yesterday. So, World Peace was not available for today!
I certainly do not pretend to be expert on the topic of world peace. I did, though, have an opportunity to consult the philosophic writings of John Lennon. He says, “Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one."
Quite frankly, I don't even know if peace is actually possible throughout the world.
However, I do try to be a peacemaker in my own life. I am a middle child, so I suppose by nature I've always tried to keep the peace. My big sister was a daddy's girl, and my little brother a mama's boy. I never voiced my opinion on that issue in fear of making my mom or dad upset!
I am a minister and counselor, in which I help people resolve conflict and create peace in their lives. Sometimes that works; other times it doesn't. I do make sure that I am always sitting closest to the door just in case World War III breaks out in my office!
And, I, of course, am a Rotarian. We are part of a worldwide effort of 1.2 million Rotarians trying to facilitate peace in the world. And, I pray the same prayer as you do each week as Mr. George asks the Lord for peace in the world.
I'm sure you are aware that the object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster: first, the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; second, high ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society; third, the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life; and fourth, the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
I’m not sure if you are aware that there are even Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. Rotary Peace Fellows can earn a master’s degree or a certificate in these areas at various universities throughout the world.
This afternoon, although I do not have one of these degrees or certificates, I would like to share with you four dynamics that I believe would maximize peace and minimize conflict. I'm hoping that these thoughts will be relevant to you as you think about peace throughout the world but also as you think about peace in your family, peace at your job, and peace in this great community of St. Charles Parish.
Four Dynamics Associated with World Peace…
1. Appreciation: A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a university course entitled “World Religious Traditions.” The course covered the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a Christian minister, I was hoping to create influence and connect with people. I quickly realized that the course textbook was promoting tolerance and acceptance of these three religions. Because of my convictions of absolute truth, I cannot tolerate and accept other religions to the extent to say everyone is ok regardless of what they believe. However, I can certainly have an appreciation for the similarities across religions and also an appreciation of the differences.
2. Alleviation: In order for peace to exist in the world, there needs to be the alleviation of fundamental extremism. I’m mindful of the horrendous acts of terror on September 11, 2001 in New York City. I’m also mindful of how many “Christian” leaders have burned copies of the Quran. The solution to religious differences is not to hate and kill, rather to love and serve.
3. Acceleration: In order for peace to exist in the world, there must be acceleration. We need to accelerate our love for others- regardless of their race, their background, and/or their status in society. We need to accelerate our acts of service to others. Rotary’s mottos include “Peace through Service” and “Service Above Self.” We need to accelerate our willingness to forgive others, to move on, and to let go. We need to accelerate our acts of kindness through financial giving in order to accomplish magnificent things, including the eradication of polio.
4. Ammunition: Finally, and I hope I don’t lose any friends here, but I believe that ammunition is necessary to facilitate peace throughout the world. Runaway Jury is one of my favorite movies. Dustin Hoffman plays the role of a big time attorney, and there’s a young jury consultant that comes to New Orleans to assist in the gun violence case. Hoffman looks directly at the fella and asks him why he is so passionate about this case. The consultant says, “I believe in a world without guns, sir.” Hoffman replies, “That’s a bit naïve, don’t you think?”
Some people really do believe in a world without guns. However, when I think of horrific tragedies involving gun violence, specifically what happened a few months ago in Newtown, Connecticut, my heart hurts knowing all of those innocent children lost their lives and all of those families are left searching for explanation. Yes, I believe to some extent, this is a gun issue, but to a larger extent this is a mental illness issue as well.
Normandy, France is certainly one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. If you go there today, you will see the beautiful sand and English Channel. And, you will also see thousands of crosses (and stars of David) reminding us of what many people describe as the “Greatest Generation.” Without ammunition, I wonder if the Nazi regime would still be active in the world today. More recently, the brave team of Navy Seals went into Pakistan to facilitate the death of Osama bin Laden. Without ammunition, our peace and freedom would certainly be more at stake. I am thankful for the men and women in our armed forces who are currently protecting our freedom and pursuing peace throughout the world.
As I close, I would like to challenge you with two very specific ideas, heavily informed by the Christian worldview. First, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Second, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
We cannot control what others across the world do; we cannot control what others across the country do; we cannot control what people across the state do; we cannot control what people across the parish do; we cannot control what people in our families do; BUT, most importantly, we can control what we do.
Is peace possible in THE world? I don't know. Is peace possible in MY world? Absolutely!
Imagine if we can multiply that individual peace 1.2 million times over! That doesn't have to be a dream. That can become a reality.
World peace is available today. World peace begins with me.
Any thoughts or comments???