Saturday, 19 March 2011

Shalom Activism

I believe we need some stronger voices that are chipping away at established structures and theories.

When the Power & Peace workshop (Anvil Trust 2010) talk of evangelism, they talk of it being the bringing of good news that makes a different to those that hear it. That difference is to their lives now, not at some future time in an escatological event (pp 18-21).

If we are living out the "good news" then we should be making a difference now. Those around us should be experiencing and rejoicing in the benefits of that "good news." This raises the question of what impact are we making in the lives of those around us.

In the notes, they go on to talk of shalom activism, giving examples where major changes have occurred through peaceful means. At the workshop weekend, we looked at Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and changes in Poland through the Solidarity movement.

I wondered whether these peace led changes have led to greater stability than the military led invasions such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Certainly with these two examples, the military solution hasn't yet produced a solution, and they don't look like producing a solution. A major difference with peaceful solutions is that the military solution never involved the people. It was imposed from outside. Even though they have endeavoured to install democratic processes, the bulk of the people in these nations still see it as imposed by an outside force.

In contrast, the peaceful protests involved the people rising up to stand firm against military force. A very recent example is the protest movement in Egypt that has begun a process to change the government determination process. These movements embarrassed the power structures into surrender rather than overthrowing the power structures. Not every peace led revolution has fully resolved the issues that motivated the protest but most have not had continuing conflict and instability.

Despite the obvious advantages of shalom activism, we see powerful nations continuing to use force to bring about what they believe will be better solutions. This is despite these invading nations having experienced changes brought about by peaceful protest.

There are few "peace academies" or departments dedicated to the research of peaceful solutions. There seems to be room for a movement to make the study of peaceful or shalom solutions have higher priority than research on military solutions including weaponry.


Peace & Power: Being vocal, political and spiritual. (2010). Workshop - because faith is a journey. Course Notes. Anvil Trust.

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