quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2012


By Ronald W. Nikkel

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now,
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow,
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me! [i]

At the end of this week the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony will be held in Oslo, Norway. Granted annually since 1901 for achievement in the cause of world peace, the Prize has been awarded to more than 124 persons or organizations. [ii] But unlike other Nobel prizes that mark significant advances in science and medicine, it is doubtful that the Peace prize represents any appreciable advance in realizing world peace.

I had the privilege of nominating Jean Vanier, a man I hold in high esteem for the Peace Prize. He has done far more to exemplify what it means to live in peace with people and more to help people understand the dignity and worth of human beings than anyone I know. But while it is good to recognize and celebrate individuals or organizations that are “heroes” in the cause of peace, one cannot say that the world has become a more peaceable and safer place as a result.

We continue to yearn and strain for peace that always eludes us, as much today as when the Peace prize was first awarded in 1901 to Jean Henri Dunant, originator of the Geneva Convention and founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. We even fight for peace and try to enforce peace with weapons of war. The means of peacemaking among nations is often based on political coercion, economic sanctions, and threats of intervention. While global conflict was averted during the “cold war” by threats of mutually assured nuclear destruction (known as MAD) between the USSR and the USA, I well remember the fear I grew up with as a school kid when we practiced running into our bomb shelters.

Every year the world’s attention is drawn toward peace on September 21 – the UN International Day of Peace. The day is inaugurated by the ringing of the “Peace Bell” at the UN headquarters in New York. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents and was presented to the world community as a gift by the United Nations Association of Japan. The inscription on the side of the bell reads, "Long live absolute world peace."[iii]

This year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the International Day of Peace and ironically peace does not yet live among us – much less absolutely. The theme of this year’s event was, “Peace and Democracy: make your voice heard,” and I couldn’t help but wonder if we are looking for peace in all the wrong places by all the wrong means. Does peace really equate to democracy and individual self-expression? In America the political process is as conflictive and fraught with hostility as any place on earth – one begins to fear for the security of its people should the vitriolic political partisanship become so polarized that everyone’s voice is heard but no one is listening to anyone else.

On the global scene as US and NATO troops are being withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan in time for Christmas, conflicts continue in those two countries even as conflicts erupt in neighbouring countries. It seems that there is a new “springtime” of violence and that there is no region of the world that is currently conflict-free. The peace we all strain for is not only under threat from other nations but equally from groups within our own nations.

“Is a world without wars even possible?” asked James T. Moore, in an editorial column he wrote about world peace. “If it is, it will be the mother of all miracles. If it isn’t, [then] awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to anyone is a tragic joke.”[iv] However, there is more to peace than the cessation of conflict and the absence of terrorist threat. Peace is ultimately a condition of pervasive social, political, economic, environmental harmony, and a state of well being between all people – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, strangers, and foreigners.

During this second week of Advent I am once again trying to meditate on the meaning of Jesus coming into the world as the “Prince of Peace.” For more than 2000 years our best human efforts have neither eliminated war nor reduced violence. Peace has not overtaken the world and even those who follow the “Prince of Peace”[v] engage in conflict one against the other. We live in an anguished, conflictive and bloody world – and amid economic and political uncertainties and difficult relationships we also wage our own personal battles against situations and people. We live in conflict as much as we live in peace.

“May the peace of the Lord be always with you,” I intone as we exchange “the peace” with each other in church. But what is this peace of the Lord -- this “peace on earth” that was announced with the birth of Jesus? Is it just an internal peace or is it really a peace between peoples and nations? How will the peace we long for ever be realized?

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born into a world of hostility and conflict. As the refrains of “peace on earth” echoed through the night, Jesus entered human existence as a helpless baby in a hostile empire. His family became refugees and all his life, Jesus was subjected to ridicule, hostility, and rejection. Yet he lived as a man of peace who respected those who rejected him, loved those who laughed at him, and forgave those who abused and tortured him.

I don’t think Jesus would have won the Nobel Peace Prize for living as he did – and I don’t think that anyone has ever nominated him for the prize, even posthumously. And yet Jesus continues to be the moral reference point for peace and for peacemaking. He said to those who follow him “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”[vi] In the midst of human hostilities and conflict Jesus came into the world to show that the way to peace is personal – it begins with individuals who choose peace in places of confrontation and violence. It is not just a matter of peace plans, peace prizes, or peace treaties, or even peacekeeping forces. It is about living at peace with God and our families, our friends, our neighbours, our adversaries, and the strangers who threaten our way of life. Peace is a miracle of love – the love of Jesus taking root in our lives and in our relationships with all people.

Oh I've been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it's getting nearer,
it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living,
it's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer,
soon it will all be true

Now I've been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can't we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again[vii]


[i] “Let There be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson and Mark Miller circa 1955
[ii] http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/
[iii] http://www.un.org/events/peaceday/2002/sg210902.htm
[iv] http://americandaily.com/index.php/article/2697
[v] Isaiah 9:5-7
[vi] John 14:27
[vii] “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens (1971 Recording from his album “Teaser and the Firecat”

Ronald W. Nikkel, PFI President & CEO
Ron has served as PFI's president since 1982. Widely recognized as an expert on criminal justice issues, Ron has visited more than 1,000 prisons in every region of the world and met with church and political leaders, as well as criminal justice officials.
Ron's new devotional book Radical Love in a Broken World, featuring daily meditations, is now available on Amazon.com as is his previous book Your Journey with Jesus.
To Learn more about Prison Fellowship International, visit www.pfi.org
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Mensagem de boas-vindas

"...Quando um voluntário é essencialmente um visitador prisional, saiba ele que o seu papel, por muito pouco que a um olhar desprevenido possa parecer, é susceptível de produzir um efeito apaziguador de grande alcance..."

"... When one is essentially a volunteer prison visitor, he knows that his role, however little that may seem a look unprepared, is likely to produce a far-reaching effect pacificatory ..."

Dr. José de Sousa Mendes
Presidente da FIAR