Why do we need peace on earth

"Peace on Earth" in the New Year!

A contribution by

Beate Hirt,

Broadcasting representative of the Catholic Church at hr, Frankfurt

I wish you a Happy New Year in this morning celebration on January 1st. Last but not least: a peaceful New Year! Peace for our world, on both a small and large scale: so many want it. Not least those who experienced war in their childhood or even later. 2020 is the year in which we can celebrate 75 years of the end of the war in Europe. It is an anniversary that also reminds us: make sure that peace is preserved in our country! Many also long for personal peace, for reconciliation in the family. Peace is not something that can be taken for granted. Sometimes we really want him to be here. And that's why many pray for peace.

Today, on the first day of the year, very special. Because today is "World Day of Peace". Since 1968, for over 50 years, it has been celebrated in the Catholic Church on January 1st. Pope Paul VI then put the first day of the year - and the whole year - under the perspective of peace. With the introduction of this World Day of Peace, he combined the wish: On New Year's Day, the will for peace should "A special celebration" be granted. A celebration, of course, that should extend into everyday life in the New Year. The new year, so the hope then as now, should be one in which peace can grow, in which wars and conflicts come to an end. And some wars of 1968 - like the Vietnam War - are actually over, and people also say of the Cold War: It is over. But our world is far from being peaceful.

"Peace on Earth", that's what the angels proclaimed at Christmas in the fields of Bethlehem. Jesus, who is also called the Prince of Peace, came into this world over 2000 years ago. But: there is still no peace, there is so much war on earth. A musical work that picks up on this contrast in a particularly impressive way for me is "Peace on Earth" by Arnold Schönberg. The text is from Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, it begins like this:

"As the shepherds / left their flock and the angel's words / carried through the low gate / to the mother with the child, / the heavenly servants / continued to sing in the starry space, / the heaven continued to sound: /" Peace, Peace on earth! "// Since the angels got that way / O how many bloody deeds / the quarrel on the wild horse, the armored one, has ended!"

Music 1: Arnold Schönberg, Friede auf Erden (CD: Friede auf Erden, KammerChor Saarbrücken, Georg Grün)

"Peace on Earth!" This is what the angels sang at Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. And so many bloody deeds followed. And many more, since Arnold Schönberg was in 1907 "Peace on Earth" composed. And people are still dying today in bloody fighting and by bombs, in Yemen and Syria, in Colombia or Mexico, even here in Europe, in Ukraine.

What can we do so that there is more peace on this earth? What can I do personally, today on January 1st, on "World Day of Peace", what about this new year 2020? I am convinced: more than I sometimes think. Of course, the high politics and the low motives of many powerful people, I can hardly influence them. But: I can do something in measure for peace on this earth, also on a large scale, I firmly believe that.

Above all, peace has to do with justice. With just and fair conditions. Where they don't rule, quarrels and war break out quickly. The Bible already knew that. The prophet Isaiah, for example, repeatedly mentions peace and justice in the same breath. The great divine rulership of peace, he says, is strengthened and supported by law and justice (cf. Isaiah 9: 6). And the prophet railed against the mighty, who took advantage of the poor and deprived them of their rights, "Woe to them!" calls he. And even today one could shout like this: Woe to them! It still exists, this oppression of the poor. For example in Peru, Brazil or Colombia. Indigenous peoples who are driven from their land because raw materials are extracted there - or because they want to set up huge cattle or soy farms. People there in South America also have to work on plantations or in factories for the cheapest wages. All of this has to do with us, in Europe. We benefit from the injustice and strife on this earth. The Catholic aid organization Adveniat draws attention to this again and again, for example with its campaign "Peace! With you!". The General Manager of Adveniat, Father Michael Heinz says:

“Responsible action in Germany is a basic requirement for this peace among people and with the environment to become a reality. Our consumption habits and our economic interests degrade Latin America to a supplier of raw materials such as crude oil, gold and coal and agricultural products such as palm oil and cheap beef. "

Creating peace in the New Year: It can therefore actually begin in the supermarket: by not buying cheap beef or even completely without meat. By leaving products with palm oil. And use fair trade products as often as possible, fair coffee and fair-trade clothing. Peace and justice and also the integrity of creation belong together. That is why today aid organizations no longer only advertise donations, but also: for a new lifestyle. And I think: This is also good news and an opportunity: I can personally change something, I can make peace, with every purchase I make for a fairer world.

“Peace to you! Peace with you! Peace with you! " This was also Jesus' greeting to his disciples.

Music 2: Knut Nystedt, Peace I Leave With You (CD: cross section, Frankfurt a cappella)

"Peace! With you!" This time it was the motto of the Christmas campaign by Adveniat, the Catholic aid organization for Latin America. And it is not the only relief organization that this time is focusing on peace. All Catholic works have made peace their main goal in 2019 and 2020.

The carol singers are also on the move in a sign of peace when they march through the streets as the three wise men with the star in the next few days. Children collect money for other children, it is the largest solidarity campaign by children for children worldwide. Last year alone, more than 50 million euros were raised. I think this action is just great. This year she makes it especially clear to me: It is above all the children who suffer from the strife in this world.

"Peace! In Lebanon and worldwide " is the motto of the carol singers campaign 2020. About one million refugees from Syria live in Lebanon. It is the country that takes in the most refugees worldwide in relation to the number of its own inhabitants. And around half of all refugees worldwide are children. They suffer particularly from the physical and emotional injuries of the war. The "Carol singers" With their campaign they support projects that want to give the refugee children in Lebanon security, protection and support and a bit of normalcy again. They want to reunite separated families, provide food and a roof over their heads, and build schools. And they support trauma coping projects. They help children to come to terms with bad experiences and to rebuild peaceful and stable bonds.

It hurts my soul to imagine how many millions of children on this earth have to live in strife and on the run. And it hurts to know: We in Europe and Germany are not innocent of that either. Anyone who wants to wage war needs weapons. The global arms trade is partly responsible for the endless suffering and destruction caused by war. Without arms deliveries, many conflicts could be ended more quickly or would not even begin. And the arms trade is increasing worldwide. The United States is at the forefront of large arms sales. Then come Russia and France - but Germany is already in fourth place. We are export champions not only because of our cars and our peaceful technologies - but also because of our exported weapons. The churches in Germany criticize this again and again. Especially the Catholic peace movement "Pax christi". Incidentally, its president in Germany has been Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz since last autumn. He says: The mission "Against armament, arms trade and arms exports" is particularly important to him, and also: "The attempt to promote nonviolence and alternative conflict resolution". Peace can only grow where there are fewer weapons and where people try with all their might for other, for peaceful solutions.

"Graciously grant us peace!" This is how people have been calling to God for centuries.

Music 3: from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Grant us peace graciously (CD: Luthers Lieder, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Frieder Bernius)

I have also been a member of for a good two years "Pax Christi", the Catholic peace movement. With all the war news I get every day, at some point it was important to me to give even more support to those forces that are committed to peace. For me it is simply part of the Christian faith: the commitment to peace on a small and large scale, not least: for fewer weapons on this earth. Germany, for example, supplies weapons worth hundreds of millions of euros to Saudi Arabia, which is currently waging one of the worst wars in Yemen. And Germany has also issued export permits in the three-digit million range for Algeria and Pakistan. It is like this: We earn from the suffering of the people in these countries, including the many children in the war zones of this world. I think that's terrible. I sign petitions on the Internet against it and think before each election: which party has which position on the arms trade. And I am glad that church movements and Catholic bishops are committed to fewer weapons on this earth, including Bishop Kohlgraf from Mainz.

But the Pope in Rome does the same. When Pope Francis was in Japan a few weeks ago, he spoke out passionately against war and weapons of war, not least against nuclear weapons. In Nagasaki he called the arms race with nuclear weapons one "outrageous attack" on humanity. And he sees all people challenged in search of peace, he said there:

“A world in peace and free from nuclear weapons is the aim of millions of men and women all over the world. To make this ideal a reality requires the participation of everyone: individuals, religious communities, civil society, states in possession of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapon-free states, private and military sectors as well as international organizations. "

Also today, January 1st, on World Day of Peace, the Pope speaks out with a message. He writes:

“The world does not need empty words, but credible witnesses,“ craftsmen of peace ”who are open to dialogue without excluding or manipulating anyone. Indeed, peace cannot really be achieved if there is no staunch dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond different ideologies and opinions. "

Music 4: from Claudio Monteverdi, Agnus Dei from the Missa a 4 voci (CD: Claudia Monteverdi, Selva Morale e Spirituale, Missae et Psalmi, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Barockensemble Stuttgart, Frieder Bernius)

Dialogue: This is a key concept on the way to more peace. According to Pope Francis, being open to dialogue is the most important thing for more peaceful coexistence. He advocates the dialogue between the various religions and cultures, for example when, like last year, he travels to a Muslim country such as Morocco in the spring and meets there with representatives of the state and religion. He said there in Morocco: "The sincere dialogue that we would like to encourage also leads to consideration for the world in which we live, our common home."

Pope Francis calls to one again and again "Culture of Dialogue" and one "Culture of Encounter" on. He inspired me with his sentences on dialogue, on what is difficult and beautiful in human encounters. Francis writes:

“It's all about a culture that assumes that the other person has a lot to give me. I have to approach the other person with an attitude of openness and listening, without prejudice or without the perception that he cannot give me anything because he has ideas that are contrary to my own or because he is an atheist. It's not like that," says the Pope. "Everyone has something to contribute, and everyone can receive something from us." (Pope Franziskus, Mein Leben, mein Weg, Freiburg 2013, p. 122)

I think that's a really strong attitude. Everyone, no matter how different and strange they are to me, shouldn't be angry or threatening for me. But an enrichment! Because he can show me something that I don't know or think or feel. And vice versa: I can show him something of myself. And we can both emerge from this encounter changed and richer.

I believe: this is how peace begins. So he can grow. When I meet people openly, without arrogance and prejudice. I want to try this again and again in the New Year. Commit myself to war and weapons on a large scale. And to meet people peacefully on a small scale. And, like today on World Day of Peace, I will always pray for it: that peace will prevail. “Give us peace, Lord! Dona nobis pacem! " So that the message of the angels will come true one day: Peace on earth!

Music 5: Johann Sebastian Bach, Dona nobis pacem from the B minor Mass (CD: J.S. Bach, Mass in B minor, Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Hans-Christoph Rademann)