Nov. 5, 2010: We can all take responsibility for peace, by Patrick Sieben

November 5, 2010 by

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.”

So begins Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata,” a short but poignant work penned more than a half century ago.

Look at the words. Say them out loud. Do you understand? Peace is so very often reflective, contemplative, silent. But who among us will carry on the crusade for the very peacefulness we so crave? An honest peace. A comforting peace. A lasting peace. Who bears the responsibility for peace?

When we examine closely, or even from great distance, the recent and not so recent events of our world, we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the atrocities human beings inflict on one another. International and domestic terrorism, war and the threat of war around the world, hundreds of thousands of children dying of disease and starvation.

Right here in our own country, still the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, we see crime, homelessness and racial strife. So much so that we risk becoming completely desensitized and turn our heads away pretending not to see. Even in our very homes we find violence, poverty and hopelessness. And look at the toll we have exacted from the Earth itself. The list is long and growing. So, who bears the responsibility for peace?

Next Thursday we will commemorate the 92nd anniversary of the Armistice between the Allied Forces and the European Central Powers, which at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 brought to a close the “war to end all wars.” Since 1953 it has been our custom on that day to honor all those who have served in our armed forces and thank those who have secured freedom and peace.

Consider this: What if each and every one of us were to enlist ourselves, not with the military, but into a cadre of peacemakers? A cadre whose commission was to be on good terms with all persons and to speak our truth quietly and clearly, and to listen to others. Every day would be a day of honor. An honor earned through ideas and actions that enhanced and benefited the lives of all people. Beginning in our homes, then extending into our town, our state, our nation and our world, infecting all with that feeling of peacefulness that warms and comforts the soul.

Sound impossible? Not really. Do you remember the words of those individuals who have changed the world?

Recall these words from the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” From the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln: “Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” And from President John F, Kennedy’s Inaugural Address: “… Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

There are many who, through their ideas and actions, have changed the world to be a better place. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream…

Let us all bear the responsibility for peace.

— Patrick Sieben is the Director of Bands at Cloud County Community College and a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.


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