Too often it seems like the idea of practicing peace is dismissed as a naive, idealistic, pie-in-the-sky concept that's just 'too simplistic' for our complex and dangerous world.
Assad is using chemical weapons in Syria, Egypt is in the midst of a violent put-down of a popular uprising and here at home gun advocates think your child's teacher ought to be armed in the classroom.
Our political leaders opt to use force first, and the pundits and commentators dismiss any suggestion of a peaceful solution to conflict as 'a sure sign of weakness'.
In our own lives, we hear how Scripture declares the primacy of peace - but who among us really talks about peace once we leave Sunday services?
For the most part, our world is focused on who can consume the most and who can have the most power, the most money, the most celebrity.
In short, peace is usually the last option anyone considers - if it’s ever really considered at all.
But does it really have to be this way? Does the notion of peace have to be reduced to an idealistic, never-to-be realized utopia, declared too impractical for the reality of our everyday lives?
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't think so. "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek," he said, "but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
What a concept!?! You've got to practice peace if you want to achieve peace.
At Beyond Borders, the practical application of peace in the here-and-now is at the heart of our dual mission to End Child Slavery and Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.
A central element of our Ending Child Slavery work is our Schools Not Slavery program. Schools Not Slavery provides a primary education for rural children most at-risk of being sent to live a life of brutality and exploitation as a household slave. Last year 160 boys and girls escaped the violence of slavery for the safety of the classroom.
Our work to End Child Slavery also happens in urban Haiti where we find the greatest demand for children to work as household slaves. Since 2010, our Child Protection Program has trained more than 3,000 adults in how to intervene when they see violence being used against children or they learn of a child living in slavery in their neighborhood.
Our work to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls, Rethinking Power, challenges each and every one of us to recognize that we all have power and then consider the question, "How are you using your power?"
We believe these practical applications of peace in everyday life are forming the basis for peaceful movements in Haiti - and we're excited about the results we're seeing:
Adults who took part in our Child Protection Program are twice as likely to intervene when they see a child being abused post-training compared to pre-training.
94% of residents in the communities where our Preventing Violence Against Women work is happening now say a man doesn't have a right to slap his wife when he's angry with her.
Yes, the world is a complex and oftentimes violent place. But if we truly want peace, we can and we MUST make peace a practical reality in our everyday lives. The alternative - to simply give up on peace - runs counter to everything it means to be human.
This year, to mark the International Day of Peace, we invite you to do 2 things:
Take a stand for peace by supporting our Schools Not Slavery program, and;
Post a response and tell us how you make peace practical in your everyday life.
May peace be with us all.