Martin Luther King Jr. said that before any peace action, it is vital that the community engaging in the work participate first in an action of confession and self purification.
Peacemaking is not easy work. Faced with the constant realities of war, injustice, terrorism, poverty and oppression, peacemakers experience constant disappointment with society and the failed efforts of those around us. Dr. King knew instinctively that without first exploring and confessing our deepest motivations, prejudices, and hidden agendas, we will unwittingly, gradually, in the heat of the battle for peace and justice, fall trap to self righteousness, pride, arrogance, and hatred for those with whom we must be reconciled. Without engaging in a right of self exploration, confession, and purification, the peacemaker becomes part of the problem, the opposite of their intent, unconsciously shedding poison outwardly while inwardly dying.
Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday and a faith ritual open to us all, reminds us that before waging peace, we must explore our motivations and allow ourselves to be disarmingly honest about our feelings of doubt, hatred, bias, and fury with others, honest about our failings, our discomfort with loving the stranger and caring for the “enemy,” weeping our lamentation, feeling sadness for our plight.
Such confession, (which I know only in part, for how could I know it well?) whether alone, with our clan or community of faith, prepares us for our work, knowing that a humble and contrite heart is acceptable and indeed, the greatest tool for Waging Peace. Come to the walk,
Shalom, Salaam, Peace and courage be with us all this Yom Kippur,
Bruce A. Barrett