Praying for peace on 11/11/11

Poet and peacemaker John Philip Newell reflects on Gandhi’s concept of soul-force as he considers the way ahead after Gaddafi’s death.

11/11/11: Our Instinct for Unity

John Philip Newell in The Huffington Post

Col. Gaddafi is dead. Pray that there may now be peace for the people of Libya. Not that it will be an easy transition, after decades of brutal dictatorship and after bloody battles of civil war and the violent killing of Gaddafi. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “brute-force” is incapable of creating true transformation. Hate-force cannot do it. Only action that is based on a true regard for the other is capable of healing what has been torn apart. This is our true “soul-force,” said Gandhi, to heal the world through the hard work of love. How do we access within ourselves this deep energy for transformation?

On 11/11/11, Armistice Day, people from different ethnic groups and religions will gather together to chant for peace at All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. The armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. We need a new end of hostilities in the world today. Libya needs it. We need it. Every nation, every community, every family on earth needs it. I invite you to join in this offering of prayer for peace, wherever you may be.

On Nov. 11 in Austin we will especially pray for peace between the religious households of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. We will use words from the Quran, the Hebrew Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus to chant for an end to hostilities. Without Christian-Muslim-Jewish dialogue there will not be peace in our world. Without a return to the prophetic vision for unity at the heart of every great spiritual tradition, there will not be new beginnings among us as nations.

To pray for peace is not to seek a healing that is contrary to our deepest instinct. It is rather, as Mahatma Gandhi said, to get in touch with “the intense longings of the human heart.” We are made in the image of God. This is the foundational belief of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Deep within us are the yearnings of God for oneness, even though we may live tragically removed from these longings, or not know how to truly satisfy them.

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