Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 21, 2003
Heal past hurts and know peace
Finding Peace, by Jean Vanier. House of Anansi Press: Toronto, 2003. Papercover. 87 pages.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
"We can all become makers of peace."
- Jean Vanier
"We can find the road to hope and peace in our world if we open ourselves to change, enter into true relationships, and break down the walls around our own hearts," he says. "We can unleash a torrent of loving kindness that will bring peace to our world."
Vanier quotes freely from Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jewish woman who was killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The author considers her one of the great prophets of peace in our time. She addresses those who are anxious about the state of our world today.
"Ultimately we have just one moral duty," wrote Hillesum in An Interrupted Life: The Diaries 1941-1943 (New York: Henry Holt, 1996) - "to reclaim large areas of peace and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world."
Vanier believes that to want a peaceful life, personally, interpersonally and internationally, we have to be willing to look backwards and be conscious of all those who have hurt us.
Many of those hurts we may have hidden and stifled. We need to acknowledge the story of our origins, our families and local communities, accepting our brokenness and also the times we have hurt others. We need to recognize our common woundedness as individuals and as peoples of differing classes, religions and cultures.
"When we have accepted who we are and what we need in order to grow in compassion and peacemaking, we can move forward to give life," says the author.
Vanier states eventually we discover the hurts we have lived can become a source of new life and that new energies will spring from our wounds. In each one of us and in our nations and international communities, there is this life, this power that can lead us forward.
Perhaps Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, described our situation best. He said that our equality lies in the fact that we are all equally loved by God. The root cause of a lot of our pain as persons and as a world is that we forget this simple, sacred truth.
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