Written by Barb Spies, OFS, FV Mission Director
Justice and Peace: Forging right relationships, re-creating a sustainable environment, promoting the common good, in pursuit of peace.
Our Justice and Peace value encompasses many ideas, including relationships, the environment, and the common good, all leading to peace. St. Francis was known as a peacemaker. He greeted others with the words “Peace and Good.” In his Prayer Inspired by the Our Father, he says, “What we do not completely forgive, make us, Lord, forgive completely that we may truly love our enemies because of You and we may fervently intercede for them before You, returning no one evil for evil and may we strive to help everyone in You.” His urgent encouragement for peace in the lives of others may have come from his past experiences of family conflict with his father and from his involvement in a battle between Perugia and Assisi, Italy. Ministry to others often results from our own difficult times.
We have many sources of conflict in our lives: family conflicts, work conflicts, community conflicts, world conflicts. One problem with our typical response to conflict is to always see outcomes as winners versus losers: “I am right and you are wrong.” If, instead, we can see both sides as having elements of being right, then we find that we have a need to work together for a solution. Compromise often makes us feel like we’re giving something up just to have a solution. Accommodation to the other side can cause for frustration and eventual return to conflict. But, if we can collaborate on a solution, we are more likely to be satisfied with the result. Both sides agreeing to the validity of the other person’s position, is a start. Then working to sort through all imaginable options to resolve a situation, especially by putting ourselves in the shoes of the other person to see things from their perspective helps us to move forward.
St. Francis looked to create peace in his world: peace among his Brothers, peace between the mayor and bishop of Assisi, peace between the Muslims and the Christians in the Holy Land. If we can work to find a new position in conflict that is inclusive and offers space for everyone to contribute, we can be more likely to find a lasting peace.