I think that too much has been said about self-esteem, and not nearly enough has been said about being a person who makes peace.
I was surpised, today, when I saw that these were connected so closely.
I think that the easy and obvious reason that a person might want to make peace is rooted in a regard for others: as the story goes, I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to lash out at you. I don’t want to fight you.
Of course, these are good things to think. And caring for others? That is a pretty good motivation.
But it’s not the best reason to be a maker of the peace.
The best reason to be a maker of the peace is because of what making peace does to me; put conversely, the best reason to avoid war (of every kind) is because of what it would do to me if I engage in it.
The “me” that I am speaking of, here, is not a lonely, solitary “me.” It is a duo, a pair: there is my own, individual self. And there is Christ in me, too. When I choose peace, when I make peace, I am doing so because of what it does for me, and for the creator of the world, who, in his inexplicable, nearly offensive humility, chooses to reside within me.
I do not know that I am not always called to mindlessly submit to the assaults of others. I know that an attacker can cause so much pain. I know that it can hurt in unimaginably deep ways to have things stolen from us… Of course, it is the intangible things, when these are stolen from us, that we hurt the most.
And yet… any attack, every attack, there is a part I can not control. An evil person (and there are evil people!) can only target things of this world, physical things… temporal things.
When I return violence for violence, when I lower myself to that level, suddenly then, I am jeapordizing things that are eternal and fundamental.
It is out of this deep self-esteem, this profound love for myself, for Jesus in me, that I must not give up my very self in exchange for that which is not part of the deepest me.
This is why I can not condone the death penalty. I would rather be murdered than made into a murderer. I will not let some one else turn me into the monster that they have become.
I am not good at this, making peace. I do not always do what I see is right. I do not always see what is right at all. But I want to be better. I am turning my eyes to making peace, trying to bring my heart there, too. I am not good at this. But I want to be better.