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The Way of Peace

03

Is self-defense a natural right? American dads teach their kids to stand up for themselves in a fight. American moms argue with referees at Saturday soccer games. What are our rights?

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.

When I moved to Idaho, I had to take a test to get an Idaho driver’s license. I’d been driving for five years, but I was nervous about failing the test, so I spent hours memorizing the Idaho Driver’s Manual. I remember a piece of wisdom I discovered in the section on 4-way stops. The manual explained how the sequence of turns takes place. And then I read these words at the top of the next page. “Right of way is something you give, not something you take.”

That’s the core message of peacemaking. It’s a difficult message. It’s a message we ignore at the peril of increased conflict.

Since that time I’ve pondered these questions:

What about people who talk behind my back and slander my reputation? I should hold them up in love, noting their positive traits and building their reputations every time I get the chance. What about those who threaten or manipulate in order to get their way? As far as it is within my power, I must give them what they need, not what I think they deserve.

The only way to make peace, the only option for diffusing conflict is to refuse engagement. If they grasp, I let go. If they accuse, I refuse to argue my defense. When they break in, I make them welcome.

Jesus lived and died this truth. I pray for courage to follow.

Right of way is something you give, not something you take.

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