I remember a vignette I heard long ago at a peace conference.
Two people are in the front seat of a car driving fast. The driver is a military general, the passenger a non-violent peace activist. They near a cliff and it is obvious they will not be able to avoid plunging over the edge when the general says to the peace activist, “Here, you take the wheel!”
The cliff of course is war.
At MCC we are highly engaged in providing relief to people fleeing military violence in Ukraine. (You can learn more about our response in this story.) And we have made statements in many places about our commitment to non-violent responses to violence; about our commitment to peacebuilding.
But many have asked me, does this voice have credibility in the face of Russian military aggression?
Our experience in MCC and the Anabaptist Christian peace community is that military solutions do not turn out to be just, lasting peace solutions. There is a growing body of evidence that shows how careful, disciplined peacebuilding strategies can create long-term stability.
We may face ridicule for the perceived naivete of our non-violent peacebuilding. But if no one claims and amplifies the voice of non-violent peacebuilding, will it disappear?
We are unlikely to find ourselves in the driver’s seat of a vehicle currently plunging over the precipice of war. Nonetheless, is there value in our small community, with its small voice, continuing to represent another way? Even when dismissed by policy makers as impractical, is it both our duty and our gift to society, to keep on being the Anabaptist voice for peacebuilding?
We have a small voice. When we speak, can we continue to speak for a firmly Jesus-rooted commitment to non-violent peacebuilding? Will our voice still be audible in the din of this war? Or perhaps more importantly to ask, will we still have our voice of active non-violence at the brink of the next war?
Rick Cober Bauman
MCC Canada executive director