Lately, we’ve all been hearing many prayers for peace, but it’s not prayer or the lack of it that is our problem.
There are limited resources in this world–land, water, oil, food, money, power. People fight over them, as they always have, and refuse to recognize that another group’s claim to those resources might be every bit as valid as theirs.
Political peace, unlike inner peace, doesn’t come from prayer. It comes from excruciating compromise, the kind that forces one group or another to let go of something they’re sure they need to survive. Ironically, that kind of compromise is the only way anyone will survive.
If a liturgy includes prayers for peace, but the leaders speak as if only one side of a conflict has legitimate claims, legitimate desires, legitimate suffering–in essence, as if only one side is legitimately human–then you may as well spare Heaven and everyone else your prayers for “peace.”
Peace isn’t manna. Peace isn’t grace. Peace is what’s left after human beings do the hard, sacrificial, painful work of real compromise. The alternative is war, and we already know how that ends. It never does.