Crying ‘Peace, Peace’ When there is No Peace

All across America, prophets and protesters are challenging us—all of us—because of the ways we have been sweeping our national problems under our societal rug of faux peace.

From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush…

(Jeremiah 6)

“From the least to the greatest,” much as the Hebrew prophet lamented, too many Americans have been guilty of deceit: outright lying and disinformation, foolhardy rumor mongering and misinformation, deceiving ourselves into believing that things are not really as bad as “they” say, digging in our heels with willful ignorance.

It’s time for a national repentance.

We Christians need to repent for all the ways we have compromised our faith to maintain our own privileges and personal preferences. Jesus taught us to love one another, to love our enemies, to serve others and put their needs above our own; to die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow in his way. The Christ will surely judge the ways we have allowed the Bible to be used as a weapon against some of the very people he died to save. We will be held accountable for the ways the Church has been an agent of division instead of a force for reconciliation.

We White people need to repent for the ways we have been blind to the injustices our Black siblings have suffered since before this land was a nation. Our founding documents claim the “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal….” but never in our history has this ideal been a lived reality. We know good and well we White folks have crafted a hierarchy of human value instead of creating a society and an economy based on equity. Why on earth should we be surprised that prophets and protesters across this nation are holding us accountable for our national sins?

image from the National Priorities Project

We taxpayers need to repent for the ways too much of our money has been poured into war and weapons while underfunding the basic health, safety and welfare for all our people, especially the most vulnerable among us. Budgets are moral documents. Budgets reflect our priorities and reveal our core values and we need to blush at the immorality imbedded within our systems of taxing and spending.

This land that I love has been living with a charade of peace my entire lifetime. So now I stand with the prophet Jeremiah and proclaim “there is no peace” in this nation; there has only been façade. It’s time for some national repentance, my friends. It’s time we owned up to our complicity and duplicity and begin the hard and crucial work of repair.

It’s time.

It’s high time.

Read more about the National Priorities Project here, “inspiring individuals and movements to take action so our federal resources prioritize peace, shared prosperity, and economic security for all.”

Read more about CodePink here, “channeling community grassroots democracy to where the power players are making (awful) decisions and making them listen.”

The term “budgets are moral documents” is from Jim Wallis of Sojourners and I’ve been using it ever since I first heard him say it in 2004. Rev. Wallis stands firmly in the tradition of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as they both have challenged the ways the U.S. spends money. He also stands firmly in the way of the Christ who said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

This essay was submitted to The Paris News as a guest column, June 16, 2020.