Peacekeeping versus Peacemaking Part 1

Some mistake “peacekeeping” with “peacemaking”. When issues of disagreement are ignored and hurt is left to fester, the typical response is to slap a lid on it and bury the problem, ignoring the injured party’s pain. If that is done by the person/entity with greater authority, that person/entity is practicing “peacekeeping” through assertion of power. Such a practice is comparable to the UN sending in an armed peacekeeping force to restore or enforce peace through might.

That is altogether different from peacemaking, which requires parties to sit down, communicate, and actually get to the heart of the problem, even risking enduring some yelling and expressions of painful emotions. Unless we are willing to hear and witness the pain of others, examine our respective roles and responsibilities in the conflict, and stay at the table with one another, we cannot say that we are peacemakers. If Christ is in it, we will have the courage to press for peacemaking, not merely peacekeeping.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.” Matthew 5:9

There is a time and a place and people for peacekeeping. But there is a time and a place and people who are called to peacemaking, too. Peacemaking is the more trying of the two perhaps, but has greater potential for long-lasting peace. Christ is called the Prince of Peace. He can accomplish each as necessary in its time and place and use whomever he chooses for each. Christ is the Prince of Peace.  He calls us to be peacemakers.  Not mask-wearing hypocrits merely peacekeepoing through exercise of power.

David didn’t banish the prophet Nathan from the “table” or strip him of his role when Nathan pointed out David’s wrongs. He repented and kept Nathan in the circle. That’s accountability. That’s integrity. That’s peacemaking. A little trivia about Nathan: According to Chronicles, Nathan wrote histories of the reigns of both David (1 Chronicles 29:29) and Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:29), and was involved in the music of the temple (see 2 Chronicles 29:25). In 1 Kings 1:8-45 it is Nathan who tells the dying David of the plot of Adonijah to become king, resulting in Solomon being proclaimed king instead. Nathan presides at the anointing of King Solomon, and his name appears in the coronation anthem Zadok the Priest. King David named one of his sons Nathan, possibly after the prophet.

An historical note: The LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile was put into service in the 1980’s, although its roots went back to the 1960’s. It was actually a defensive weapon, designed to give the US the capacity to survive a sneak nuclear attack and deploy a counterattack response….It was part of the ‘”mutual assured destruction” strategy of the escalating nuclear proliferation of the cold war. It’s advantages were broad based distribution, quick retargeting capacity, and small warhead accuracy. President Reagan put the Peacekeeper missiles in service. Shortly thereafter the START II treaty was begun. although the US never ratified it. The Soviet Union’s grip on Eastern Europe fell, the Cold War ended and the last of the Peacekeeper missiles was taken out of service in 2005, replaced by the Minuteman III missile program. Peacemaking efforts at the negotiation table are more potent in bringing about change, though the peacekeeping function needs to remain as a default tool to assure honest follow through. As Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” As one of his predecessors said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s a strategy that has served peacemakers well throughout history.