On the surface, the term might look innocuous. They prevent disturbance, preserve the status quo, keep the rebels in line. But when it comes to peacekeepers within interpersonal relationships and faith community environments, there’s a vast difference between enforcing the status quo and creating true, lasting peace.
A peacekeeper protects the rules and the system, regardless of how broken, fouled, or corrupt they may be. A peacekeeper turns a blind eye to the broken, hurting, abused, and dying. Peacekeepers are offended and outraged by the screams and protests of victims…but they aren’t outraged because the victims are being hurt, they’re outraged because the calm has been disturbed, the boat has been rocked, the rules have been broken.
A peacekeeper protects the rules and the system, regardless of how broken, fouled, or corrupt they may be.
See, peacekeepers are the ones who benefit the most from things staying just as they are. Secure and snug in their calm, comfortable bubble of privilege, they are furious when the oppressed dare to challenge the system that holds them down, held in place only by the bullies who enforce it. They are the bouncers at a rigged casino who toss protesters out through the door onto the pavement. Want to see a peacekeeper in action? Look no further than the front door of your local evangelical, fundamentalist church.
Imagine to yourself what it is like to be a whistleblower in an environment where the slightest deviation from the standardized lifestyle script is met with silencing tactics that rival militarized regimes. But, no matter how hard they try, they will never be protectors or champions of “peace” because peace does not, will not, CANNOT exist apart from justice. Peace does not co-habitate with abuse. Peace does not live with violence. Peace does not tolerate hatred, bigotry, oppression, racism, sexism, exclusion, phobias, othering, ostracizing, gossip, bullying, threats, or fear-mongering. People who protect systems fraught with these anti-Christ attributes are merely enforcers of a false peace.
It’s a facade. A gag placed over the mouths of those who cry out. A mask held together by the hands of tyrants who benefit from using the name of a loving God as their personal weapon with which to beat people into submission. So, what’s the antidote? How do things change?
Peacemakers were and are the abolitionists, suffragists, advocates, and activists of the world.
This is where peaceMAKERS come into play. Peacemakers are the brave protesters who walked out of school this week. Peacemakers are those who take a knee in support of those who live and die in fear of a broken system. Peacemakers were and are the abolitionists, suffragists, advocates, and activists of the world. Peacemakers call out abuse by those in power, even when their voice shakes, even as they themselves are being punished for their stand. Peacemakers blow the whistle when they witness wrong. Peacemakers stand in a courtroom and confront the rapist who assaulted them. Peacemakers see someone being hurt and run toward the problem, not away. Peacemakers remind people that everyone has a right to be treated with decency and respect regardless of their religion, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Peacemakers refuse to use their personal opinions or religious beliefs as grounds for discrimination and hatred. Peacemakers call out victim-blaming, tone-policing, and manipulation. Peacemakers refuse to be distracted from their cause by anyone or anything. They stand up on behalf of the oppressed and work to create equality and justice. They don’t protect the status quo. They seek to change it for the better of everyone.
All the while, false-peace keepers are screaming at them to shut up.
They vehemently shame them.
But it won’t work. Just like every good story that has ever been told, we know that, in the end, justice will prevail. I choose to stand on the side of justice and equity. I choose to make peace.