Achieving Peace

Singing the Divine Office

On the necessity of educating people to pacific attitudes of mind

People should beware of leaving the problems of peace and disarmament to the efforts of a few men without putting their own attitudes in order. Civil rulers, who must at the same time promote the welfare of the whole world as well as protect the interests of their own people, depend to a very great extent on public opinion and public feeling. Their peace-making efforts will be fruitless as long as hostility, contempt, and distrust as well as racial hatred and uncompromising ideologies continue to divide men and put them in opposing camps. Hence a very great need arises to re-educate people’s attitudes and to guide public opinion in a new direction.

Those who are engaged in education, especially the education of the young, and those who mould public opinion should regard it as among their greatest responsibilities to educate people to want peace. Every one of us needs a change of heart; we must keep in mind the needs of the whole world and see what tasks we can all perform together in order to bring about the improvement of mankind.

We must not let false hopes deceive us. Animosity and hatred must be put aside, and firm, honest agreements about world peace must be concluded. Otherwise, in spite of all the wonders of modern science, humanity, which is already in grace danger, may be brought to the point that the only peace it will know will be the dread peace of death. The Church, however, is living the the midst of these anxieties, and, even though she makes these statements, she has not lost hope. She intends to propose to our age over and over again, in season and out of season, the message of the apostle: “Behold, now is the acceptable time” for a change of heart, “behold, now is the time of salvation.”

If peace is ever to be achieved, the first condition is to remove the causes of dissension between men. Wars thrive on these, especially on injustice. Excessive economic inequalities and unwarranted delay in applying the remedies for them are often the causes of such dissensions. Other causes are the quest for power, the total disregard for people’s rights, and at a deeper level, envy, distrust, pride, and other selfish passions. Man cannot tolerate disorders of such a kind, and the inevitable result is that, even though war does not actually break out, the world is constantly disturbed by the strife and violence between men.

Exactly the same evils reappear in the relationships between nations. If they are ever to be overcome or prevented and if violence is ever to be suppressed, it is absolutely essential that international bodies work together even more effectively and resolutely to co-ordinate their efforts and to work unsparingly to create organizations that will promote peace among men.

A reading from the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World N 82-83
Office of Readings; Week 31; Monday