Fr John Dear SJ speaks on active non-violence
Independent Catholic News Mon, 10 Sep 2012
By Esther Waldron
Fr John Dear SJ, who travels the world teaching the active non-violent message of Jesus as epitomised in the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Dorothy Day, gave a talk in London on Tuesday night.
He spoke at London Catholic Worker's Guiseppe Conlon House in Harringay, on the theme of 'The Cost of Peace: Violence or the Non-Violent Jesus?'
Fr John began by thanking his audience - comprising many campaigners for peace and justice - for all their efforts to promote peace, calling it "the best work you can do in your lives."
He spoke of peace and justice as a vocation, and of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount as "a beautiful invitation to claim our identity as the sons and daughters of the God of peace."
Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, Fr John recounted his experience of counselling relatives and firemen in the aftermath of the tragedy, and the mixed reactions he has since experienced across America as an outspoken opponent of the Iraq war.
The self-confessed "uppity Jesuit" also discussed his acts of civil disobedience and the Gandhian concept of Satyagraha, and questioned the wisdom of the Obama administration "rebuilding" the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Quoting Dorothy Day by stating "war doesn't work," Fr John spoke of the importance of Christians emphasising the peace of Jesus, and saying no to a culture of war.
Speaking of his own methodology of the cross, Fr John gave a definition of resurrection as "having nothing to do with death," contrasting the definition with a world that is addicted to violence and war.
Fr John called for us all to reflect on our own lives as peacemakers, and how we are each individually moving into the reign of the God of peace.
"Practise radical non-violence towards yourselves," he urged, "pursue the truth of our common unity, allowing the God of peace to disarm our hearts."
Fr John closed his talk by reminding the audience of Jesus's words at the Garden of Gethsemane (which he considers to be Jesus's last words to the church): "Put down your weapons."
Fr John's five-step plan for pursuing peace:
1. Be mystics and contemplatives of peace and non-violence (eg, meditate daily).
2. Practise meticulous non-violence to self and others.
3. Be students and teachers of non-violence and peace (ie, talk about it to others).
4. Be activists; get involved in a cause.
5. Be prophets and visionaries in the name of the God of peace.