The Easter message of Jesus is very simple – “Peace be with you” (John 20: 19). Having experienced injustice and death, Jesus spoke to his disciples and female followers in the midst of their fear. And he repeated the same message: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20: 21).
We Christians are called to witness this sending forth of the Risen Life. With this Easter Spirit, UnitingWorld calls upon the members of the Uniting Church to pray and act for peace. We believe peace is a primary means to resolve the increasing tension in the Korean Peninsular.
The rhetoric of war is escalating on both sides of the Peninsular. This build up began when North Korea recently conducted nuclear tests and launched a satellite. These acts of provocation have received worldwide condemnation. For the first time, China has backed a UN sanction against the regime. Meanwhile North Korea has unilaterally scrapped the Armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 and threatened pre-emptive strikes against US led forces. Despite high tensions with North Korea, both the US and South Korea have begun annual military drills. This week the US sent strategic fighters and bombers and anti-missile equipped ships to join the military exercise.
Right now, the urgent need should not be to send a stronger message by showing stronger force, but to defuse the tension. As the UN secretary has rightly put it, “…it has gone too far”.
Military threats are not the means to peace but a quick way to escalate conflict. The deepening tension has become a regional matter; therefore it requires regional involvement to rebuild trust. The Uniting Church supports peace talks – not war rhetoric. The return to the Six-Party Talks is an important step in involving the international community to participate in, and contribute to confidence building. Russia and China have significant roles to play in the move to defuse the tension.
Alongside this intervention we need to look deeply into an eastern philosophy – because traditional Confucian values are still intact through the people in the Korean Peninsular.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC), Confucius spent his life engaging in peace talks to end the war among the Princes and War Lords. His thoughts are still the roots of Eastern thinking today. Among his highest moral principles, the first one is called ren 仁 – benevolence. War cannot overcome centuries of hatred, Confucius argues. People can only be freed from the circle of chou 仇 － enmity – through acts of benevolence. This kindness towards each other is not self-generated, but is the mandate of Heaven (tian 天). The Earth is held together by this benevolence of Heaven, just like the Goodness in Christian-Platonism that holds all moral and natural principles together.
This historical lesson has a practical implication. A wall takes two people to build and two people to bring it down. And it takes a stronger person to show benevolence.
The world is watching. The external tension for war is an expression to gain internal control over the political dynasty. A thirty-year old young leader wants to draw the world’s attention to his regime. But it takes a wiser elder to point this nation, which is locked in self-isolation, to another path. Only by working on this connection can divisions be removed.
These ideas are comparable to Christian understandings. On Easter Day, God demonstrated to the world that the Creator did not overcome evil with power, but goodness. Jesus was not freed from the circle of suffering by weapons, but by the love of God. New life is not found among the dead. (Luke 24:5) What moves history is not vengeance driven by enmity, but the forgiveness of sins. (John 20: 23)
UnitingWorld calls for connections not isolation, conflict resolutions not international sanctions, hope for peace, not fear for war.
Nuclear weapons are not the vehicle of peace, but the reverse image of insecurity. Since 1953, history tells us confrontation is not a means to bring down the divided wall, but fosters a narrowly defined self-security with its roots in instability. Sanction is not connection – it increases isolation. History also tells us that sanctions don’t work. They only punish the people in famine.
Dialogue within the Korean Peninsular, Six-Party Talks, multilateral engagements, and humanitarian contacts are valid paths that have not been exhausted. This year the World Council of Churches will hold its conference in Busan, in the Republic of Korea. 349 churches around world will gather under the following theme; “God of Life, lead us to justice and peace”.
The Uniting Church in Australia joins Christians around the world and prays for the deepening of faith. Beyond the rhetoric for war, beneath political tension, there rests God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. This peace has emerged out of death and offers peace and forgiveness to the world.
This message is from UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church in Australia’s agent for purposeful, effective partnerships between churches and communities worldwide. It can be read in it’s original form here.