This week our area will have a renowned peace activist visiting. Fr. Daniel Berrigan who gained fame in the 1960’s for his opposition to the Vietnam war along with the late Thomas Merton will be visiting Alfred State University in Alfred, New York. Its not often that someone of his stature visits our area. About five years ago I attended an event at St. Bonaventure University where Jim Forrest of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship spoke. I remember how much I enjoyed that. It came at a time just months after September 11, 2001 when most of my countrymen were gung-ho about the war in Afghanistan and there was already a drumbeat for Iraq as it turns out.
Here is a link to the Alfred State University website with details of Fr. Berrigan’s visit to our area. Fr. Berrigan, will serve as “Peacemaker in Residence” at Alfred University for the duration of his stay from April 4th to April 7th. That’s a great title and an even greater responsibility. Many so called peace activists that I’ve met actually have a lot of hatred in their hearts. A former colleague once told me that she found it difficult to believe that a U.S. Naval veteran would be interested in peace. Just recently a person I know questioned why, Dan Smith, a retired U.S. Army colonel would work for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. There seems to be an unfortunate stereotype that peacemakers are unpatriotic or are anti-military. I don’t know about Fr. Berrigan, but Jim Forrest and Dan Smith are both committed to peacemaking and were once warriors. St. Francis of Assisi was a soldier himself.
It may be that real peacemakers have to embrace the seeds of violence and hatred in themselves in order to be effective witnesses for peace. We are afterall children of the same creator. Warriors and Peacemakers are two sides of the same coin. Peacemaking is difficult. There’s way more to peacemaking than being against war. I have to remember not to condemn those who don’t think like I do or who openly support war. Life is a redemptive journey and peace making is part of that journey. I must be the change I wish to see in the world. Peace.