Left Justified: The Prince of Peace is born

The Prince of Peace means no war! Come on, Christians. Let’s stop killing people, especially in the name of the little Baby Jesus, during this holiday season. Wars and rumors of wars are supposed to be started by evil people, not born-again followers of the Savior. Even if we think we are defending ourselves, our country is ignoring Christ’s plea to “Love one another, do good to those who harm you.”

I don’t want to get biblical on you, but when someone does a wrong like striking you on the cheek, we’re not supposed to turn around and kick them in the butt. This country is strong enough to try diplomacy first. And it’s rich enough that it should try charity second.

The rest of the world’s peoples would really like to be friends with us. I found this out when I traveled to Iran, which is one of George W. Bush’s “Evil Axis” boogeymen. The Iranian people want peace; they still remembered eight long years of war with Saddam Hussein, back when the U.S. was selling toxic gas technology. Some of the Iranians even sheepishly apologize for their own president’s warlike actions. But rare was the individual citizen who wanted to take on the world’s biggest stick. And it wasn’t out of fear, but a sincere desire to be friends with us fun-loving Yankees.

One of the leading participants in this peace mission to Iran was Dave Robinson, the director of Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace movement. He is a wonderful soul who works for peace as a representative of caring Catholics. Locally, I worked with Pax Christi through Karen Johnston on the Good Friday Walk in downtown Rockford. Nationally, Pax Christi lobbies for peace, disarmament, social justice, and caring for the poor. Pax Christi is a very Catholic organization, and Dave is a very down-to-earth person.

I enjoyed talking to Mr. Robinson in between all the meetings that we had from Tehran to Shiraz. He was the one who joined me in complaining to our tour guide that we were seeing too many “piles of rocks” (i.e., ruins and monuments) and not meeting enough Iranian citizens. Dave and I enjoyed seeing the sights, but our group’s main purpose was to meet Iranians and convey a hope for peace.

Our trip to Iran was sponsored by an international peace organization and included 23 American peace activists. Dave was one of them, and his sense of humor and persistence got our group into more meetings with civic organizations.

So I invited Mr. Robinson to come to Rockford and speak about working for peace. After all, he’s been on twice as many peace trips as I. He’s spoken before the United Nations about the importance of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in peacemaking. Dave also lobbied Congress on specific disarmament issues.

So I am pleased to announce that the executive director of Pax Christi USA will be in Rockford Friday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m., at Court Street United Methodist Church, 215 N. Court St. The program is free and open to the public, but, of course, we’ll pass the hat to help cover his transportation costs. We also hope to give him a little honorarium in appreciation for his time.

If you’d like to join us beforehand for dinner ($15 per person, reservations required), give me a call at (815) 964-7111. This is Rockford Urban Ministries’ Christmas present to the community, with an assist from Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee. We hope to remind you that there is more to Christmas than shopping (unless it’s at JustGoods, the fair trade store). We are celebrating the arrival of the Prince of Peace, and maybe we should stop fighting, and learn to care for one another.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2006, issue

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