It is common for contestants in a beauty pageant to be asked what one thing they would change about the world if given the chance. A popular (and often publicly mocked) answer is world peace. To be honest, I don’t know why these young women are coached into given this answer, but strangely I feel a little defensive of them lately. What is so offensive about this topic? Why is it when I think of world peace, the only memory I have of a widely publicized use of the phrase is attached to a beauty contest?
I had to do a Google search for “beauty pageant and world peace” to determine what question they were asked to prompt the answer. The search returned zillions of results regarding the subject; mostly message board comments and blog posts ridiculing the audacity of such an answer. One person stated simply that world peace is unattainable and anyone who believes otherwise is naive. Another person said the answer made them cringe. And apparently, an actress made a public plea requesting for such peace pledges to stop.
My concern here is not necessarily for the contestants–it is a concern about the prejudice towards peace. Too often peace is taught in churches as a feeling individuals can posses as a result of being in Christ, but it is far more. It is a hope we get to display to the world as Jesus did. We display the peace of Jesus in both our hearts and actions, so that the world can have hope that such a peace like His is possible. Inward peace is given to us by Jesus and we get to carry that to the world around us. Peace is given, so that peace can overflow.
To set a hope on world peace is fantastically irrational and annoyingly optimistic, but I guess I don’t really care. The best I can do is try bringing that kind of peace to those around me and do so by living peacefully myself. This is the sermon Greg Boyd gave on December 22 at Woodland Hills Church. The topic was peace–the message was inspiring. Listen here, then visit here.
My favorite author on the concept of world peace is Leo Tolstoy.
“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity by contributing to the establishment of the kingdom of God, which can only be done by the recognition and profession of the truth by every man.” (Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You, 264-265)
“However, one man, or a thousand men, firmly resolved not to oppose evil by evil are far more free from danger by violence than those who resort to violence, whether among civilized or savage neighbors.” (14)
The Sermon on the Mount was a major guiding factor in the Tolstoyan political philosophy. It engaged radical non-violence and a denunciation of all the pagan combative practices.
I was actually leaning toward paganism and Satanism and atheistic occulticism when I first read his book, The Kingdom of God is Within You. But it was so beautiful and at that time, I really knew I was rejecting something beautiful. Tolstoy played a major role in my conversion to Catholicism.
Your blogs mean a lot to me. I know you’re busy with your education (so am I working on two B.A.’s) but I sure do miss your posts.