September 21, 2015

Working for Peace through Justice

My time in Myanmar has once again demonstrated the power of global partnerships.  As the Peace Studies Center and Central collaborated on a workshop in human sexuality, we have learned of the places where education, peer support, and advocacy are most needed.
            Our sister school, Myanmar Institute of Theology, is a leader on so many fronts in its beleaguered nation.  For example, the establishment of a Peace Studies Center seeks to infuse a Christian theological and ethical interpretation of peace.  The government interprets peace as quietism, i.e., people are quiet about the injustices they experience and witness.  They do not protest the compromise of their religious liberty or human rights.

            The mission of the Peace Studies Center is something different altogether, and their initiatives are bold.  Courageous in being willing to engage the realities among varied constituencies such as domestic violence, the Center is a response to the desperate needs and burning issues in the churches and larger society.  As its description says: It “keeps walking its journey of peace-building in Myanmar.”
            The Center follows the teaching of Oscar Romero who wrote:
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to
the good of all.  Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.
How significant it is to have such a resource located in a seminary so that students learn new skills in building peace and transforming conflicts.

            The Center calls persons to understand the destructiveness of violence and its self-perpetuating grip in societies.  Yet it is more than a think tank.  Leaders of the Peace Studies Center, Maung Maung Yin and Mana Tun, regularly travel to villages to train pastors and laypersons in the transforming initiatives that make for peace.
            In the near future, Dan Buttry will be meeting with some faculty and me about how Central might think about a Peace Studies emphasis.  Whether this might mean a new degree or a center is undetermined at this point—and it will require good thinking on the part of faculty and clear interest on the part of donors.

            These faithful scholar-practitioners at Myanmar Institute of Theology inspire me.  They are willing to risk for the clear imperative of Jesus.  Blessed are the peacemakers, indeed.

            Molly T. Marshall

Central prepares women and men to craft the future with God.

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