An Activism that Loves its Enemies

By Jarrod McKenna 12-29-2009

Sad news from Sydney as a headline for the ABC read, "Abusive letter suspect 'a peace activist'". The article went on to say the man was in court to face charges of harassment after sending "letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, accusing some of the soldiers of being criminals and murderers."

As a peace activist, this deeply, deeply saddens me. The last thing these families need is for their grieving to be interrupted by someone who thinks their agenda is more important than their loved one. Is not a worldview that places an agenda before people just what peace activists are seeking to change? The kind of peace activism our world needs is the type that places concern for people (regardless of if we agree with them or not) above that the agendas we hold. Over meals I've seen soldiers bravely open up about their struggles with the war(s) because they trust my concern for THEM not just an agenda. If Jesus can love his enemies on the cross is it too much to ask that we move past cheap rhetoric to costly relationships where transformation can take place?

The world is ready for an activism which loves its enemies. As A.J. Muste put it, "There is no way to peace - peace is the way." The early Christians were called "people of the Way" because they lived the way of Jesus. If the sharing of our faith is to have any integrity, Christians who say "Jesus is the Way" must embody "the Way of Jesus." The same is true of peace activists (Christian or otherwise). As Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would often say, "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."

Please don't think of this misguided man when you think of faith-based peace activism in Australia. Think of my heroes and friends like; Donna Mulhearn, Neville Watson, Jo Valentine, Treena Lenthall, Bryan Law, Margaret Pestorius, Simon Moyle, Veronica Brady, Ciaron O'Reilly, Jason MacLeod, Jim Dowling, Carol Powell, Jessica Morrison, Sarah Williams, Jacob Bolton, Simon Reeves and Justin Whelan (to just name a few who I deeply respect and are so grateful for their witness). As my friend Justin Whelan has pointed out, "Christian nonviolence might be the most potent form of public theology in Australia today."

Recently I received an email from a producer of a radio show after an interview I did regarding some of our activism. She wrote :

The common thread that I noticed of all the callers was that you really got people thinking

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